Adam Hill’s threats play out in public and in private
October 23, 2016
OPINION by DEBBIE PETERSON
I ran for the San Luis Obispo County District 3 supervisor seat because I was deeply troubled by the way Supervisor Adam Hill operates. After several of his attacks on constituents who didn’t share his views hit the headlines, I met with him and told him that I wouldn’t support attacks on people he represents.
After his third attack, I told him I would no longer be supporting his leadership. Thereafter, I too suffered his scornful remarks in meetings, the intimidating public comments, and the untrue political labels. That was how it went in public, but one private meeting was more worrying than anything in the public eye.
In Jan. 2013, just weeks after I was elected mayor, I was attending a League of Cities conference. Supervisor Hill sent me several urgent texts saying we must meet at his office the next Monday. Remembering it was Martin Luther King Day, I asked if the county offices would be open.
“Oh, just meet me out front,” he replied.
I agreed, thinking we’d then go somewhere nearby for coffee.
When I arrived at the county building, he proceeded to unlock the front door, and then lock it behind me. By the time we reached the fourth floor and the supervisor’s offices, I realized there was no one else in the building.
He locked the door of the supervisors’ office behind us. When we got to the reception area of his office, he locked that door behind us. He then locked his own personal office door behind us.
We were the only people in the building, behind four locked doors on the fourth floor.
“Why are we here, Adam?” I asked.
He led me to a table piled with several stacks, many more than a foot high, that he said were research on a political opponent who he did not want me to associate with.
I listened to what he had to say and he seemed distressed that I wasn’t reacting. He led me to a computer with several files open about his opponent.
Looking back, I realize he was using the county building, his office and a county computer – public resources – for his own political purpose, an FPPC violation.
As I remained calm he became more agitated.
“This person is dangerous! The sheriff has given me a permit to carry a concealed weapon because of him,” Hill said.
Then he realized he’d told me, after locking me in an empty building, that he had a gun. He started to back track, saying, “I’m not trying to scare you, I’m not trying to scare you!”
I told him that I wasn’t scared; that he hadn’t told me anything I didn’t already know about his opponent and thanked him for the information.
Although he tried on a couple of occasions after that to get me to meet with him at his home, I never again made the mistake of meeting with him again except in a crowded coffee shop with outdoor seating.
Why tell you this now? The rich public record of the supervisor’s misconduct is just the tip of the iceberg. Many are truly, and justifiably afraid to tell their story. I’ve heard much I can’t share, but I can share my own story.
You then can make an informed choice. With your vote, you choose how we are treated.
Debbie Peterson was the first directly elected female mayor of Grover beach, serving from 2012-2014. She is currently running for a seat on the Grover Beach City Council.