Arroyo Grande mayoral candidate suing brother, sister and son

October 13, 2016
Richard and Laurie Waller

Richard Waller and his wife Laurie Waller


Arroyo Grande mayoral candidate Richard Waller says he will be able to unite the community and bring civility to the council if he’s elected. Waller touts his family’s long-term ties to the community and his ability to promote open discussions.

But a family fight over his mother June Waller’s estate has spilled over into the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. Richard Waller is suing his sister, brother, son and other relatives.

Richard Waller, a retired teacher, claims in the lawsuit that his family members schemed against him and his wife, to deny them the inheritance his mother had promised.

Three versions of his mother’s will pass her estate which includes 13 properties, stocks, bonds, money, jewelry, the ranch, homes and leased agricultural lands to her blood relatives with each of her four children and/or their children receiving 25 percent. Both of her two living sons would have the use of one of her properties until they die.

The suit is based on Richard Waller’s disagreement over the latest version of the will which designates which home he will be permitted to live in. He also is suing over other stipulations in the will.

June Waller died in April 2015, and he filed the suit against the other family member listed in the will a few months later.

Now, Caroline Waller is supporting the campaign of her brother’s opponent, incumbent Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill. Other members of the Waller family are also backing Hill in his bid for reelection.

In Arroyo Grande, most of the current crop of candidates for city office are aligned either with Hill or with the council majority that existed prior to a political shakeup in 2014. That year, voters chose Hill, a write-in candidate, over Tony Ferrara, a 16-year incumbent mayor, following a city hall sex scandal and coverup.

Hill has since faced accusations of causing division at the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District. However, the sanitation district is operating at lower costs with cleaner output with Hill on the board than it had been during Ferrara’s tenure.

In his bid to unseat Hill, Richard Waller has aligned himself with Ferrara-allies Councilwoman Kristen Barneich and Caren Ray, a former councilwoman and county supervisor. Both Barneich and Ray are seeking fresh terms on the Arroyo Grande Council. Waller, along with Barneich and Ray, is campaigning on a platform of restoring civility in Arroyo Grande.

“I commit to upholding the highest standards of civility in Arroyo Grande city government,” Richard Waller stated on his campaign Facebook page last week.

Critics say Richard Waller’s legal actions against his closest relatives indicate he does not exemplify civility.

Richard Waller grew up in Arroyo Grande but spent most of his life away from the Central Coast. In 2007, he retired from an elementary school teaching job in Nevada and moved back to the Arroyo Grande ranch on which he grew up in order to take care of his elderly mother, his campaign website states.

In exchange for taking care of his mother, Richard Waller and his wife would get to live the rest of their lives on the rural Arroyo Grande ranch, his lawsuit states. Richard Waller would also get an 18.75 percent stake in his mother’s estate and his son would get 6.25 percent, according to the suit. A promise reflected in the mother’s original will.

However, Richard Waller failed to live up to the promises he made his mother and she amended her will, according to a response to the lawsuit that was filed by his family.

Richard Waller alleges his sister, Caroline Waller, took advantage of their mother’s illness and forced her to amend the will. The amendment resulted in Richard Waller and his wife receiving lifetime privileges of living in a modular home. His brother John Waller, who helped take care of his mother for 20 years, gets to live in the ranch house.

In Caroline Waller’s response to the suit, she alleges Richard Waller’s relationship with their mother became strained because he failed to keep his promises to care for her and maintain her properties. Additionally, their mother became concerned Richard Waller would give the assets he inherited to his wife and step-children, rather than to his biological son, Caroline Waller alleges.

Christopher Waller-Bennett is Richard Waller’s biological child, and he is the grandson of June Waller. Waller-Bennet is one of the beneficiaries of June Waller’s trust and one of the defendants listed in his father’s lawsuit.

The other defendants Richard Waller names in the lawsuit are Caroline Waller, John Waller, Taylor Waller and Austin Waller — his brother, niece and nephew. Additionally, Richard Waller lists 20 Jane Does in his lawsuit. John or Jane Does are persons whose names are not listed but who could be named in the course of the suit.

Richard Waller did not respond to several requests for comment about the suit and his campaign.

Caroline Waller said she could not discuss the lawsuit but mentioned that Richard Waller is estranged from many of his blood relatives.

“He is the nastiest person I have ever known,” Caroline Waller said.

Josey Wales


think we all have come to realize that the campaigns of Richard Waller, Caren Ray and Kristian Barneich are a fraud. They attempt to paint themselves as civil, but all are tied to their very uncivil hero, Adam Hill. They all must be defeated on Election Day, November 8th.

Caren Ray and Adam Hill are joined at the hp, and she does not deserve to be elected to public office in Arroyo Grande. As you may recall, the CCN did a story on how she was a ‘Hasher’, thats someone who runs around town drunk and naked.

Do we really want crooked, immoral people running our city?

Just wondering,



It is disgraceful that the media would use a personal issue to push their agenda. We do not know Mr. Waller and are undecided if we will vote for him (but we won’t vote for Hill). The death of a parent is a very emotional and stressful event which tends to cause problems for the family. It is none of your business. It has nothing to do with the qualifications of a candidate. We are fed up with the lack of professional journalism by the media. Shame on you.


Can you name me one election, local, state, national where personal issues are not part of the process? The Arroyo Grande mayoral race is not unique. Plus you may be confused, the issue being raised is not the passing of a parent, it is how Mr. Waller is presenting himself in a court case, he brought about, and his confusing concept of civility.


From what I heard the family approached this media source. They wanted the truth be known before the election.


The family did NOT approach the media source. We were contacted after the public court papers were discovered, but we did not initiate this. When one runs for public office, things are going to be discovered.


My apologies, I stand corrected. I wish the best for you and your family.


No apologies necessary!!! Seeing my post with “not” in caps, looks angry, and I am not and didn’t mean to come off like that. I think I just over react to anything related to the suit, it’s been the most gut wrenching thing to go through, and I hate I can’t comment on the details at this time. It was expected and I promised my mom I would fight for her wishes, and it is just eating me alive. Thank you for your well wishes, the good thing is, the rest of our family are close and supportive, and the truth always prevails. :)

John Waller

We have a common misconception through out our country, it deals with this issue of civility. we complain about “mudslinging” asking why cannot we be civil, gentlemanly, get along like we did in the past. The problem is that democracy is not civil by nature, it raucous, noisy, crude sometimes going all the way to the past of the Greeks. In our country democratic debate could lead to fist fights, even duels. In this election we see people calling for civility while being some of the most uncivil people around, both locally, and nationally. The problem is not that a lot of people are uncivil in politics, but that at the same time they are screeching for civility. WE would not mind the incivility quite as much if they were not preaching so hard about it. And what is worse, it is US that they complain about not themselves. While it is true that we do need to practice some self control, keep calm, nevertheless thank god for incivility because it means everyone has the right to their own opinion and the right to express it.


Confucius say before work can start names must be rectified if anything meaningful is expected to be produced. this one nation under God idea created a divide in the indivisible one nation with liberty and equality for all ,



Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

I am sorry your family issues are difficult .

my question is how do they define civility?

I do not believe asking tough questions of council and staff is un civil, maybe I am wrong.

I am not sure how anyone can call Jim Hill uncivil? he is nothing but polite and mild mannered .I for one do not believe suing son is a civil thing to do at all. I find it down right cold.My hope and prayer is that there is healing for your family.


I was executor for my mother’s estate and can tell you that the last good (witnessed, notarized, etc) version of a will or trust is the only one that counts. My unstable mom changed her wishes every time she got angry at someone in the family. I had numerous superseded wills, some I was in, some I was out…but the last one had me in, thank God, but she did punish my children for being half-Mexican. Miss you, Mom….sorta….


Kristen Barniech’s kids go to AG high where the forum will be tonight.

The political science teacher did not know Arroyo Grande in Bloom was Bob Lund’s project.

Did not know the Bob Lund is Richard Waller’s campaign manager

So I think that is why they did not realize there was a conflict of interest.

Chances that Kristen Barniech has someone to do with the debate and it is not as neutral and unbias as everyone thinks 1000%

Is that being transparent?

Is she really who you want makes the rules you have to live by?


How can you speculate on a debate moderated by esteemed State Assembly member Katcho and Arroyo Grande High School students? Seems like Jim Hill’s campaign is getting desperate, going after high school students. Shameful. Is he really who you want makes the rules you have to live by?


The same could be said about the Barneich Ray team, They must really be desperate to create the Waller campaign and think that best issue to push is civility. This from a guy who appears to not even be civil to his own family and they expect us to think he can be civil being mayor, to me that’s desperate.

Josey Wales

Ladies & Gentlemen,

With all due respect, Richard Waller is a fraud.

This lawsuit he filed indicates a lack of civility, and it only goes downhill from there. He has aligned himself with two exposed politicians desperate for power, and this also reflects poorly on the campaigns of Caren Ray and Kristen Barneich. We deserve better.

I say vote NO on Richard Waller, NO on Caren Ray, NO on Kristian Barneich.

These candidates represent fear and division, and we are better off without them.

Just saying,



Waller, Barneich and Ray are taking plays straight from Adam Hill’s playbook.

Like Adam Hill refusing to attend the forum hosted by Mr. Rice, these three showed their unwillingness to answer tough questions from John Q. Public They also declined to attend an independent forum (hosted by someone they don’t control). Their only appearances are at events consisting of their supporters.

They are intentionally avoiding anyone and everyone else, hoping to stay under the radar and let all those signs at developer properties carry them to a seat.

Ray cancelled her spot on Dave Congalton’s show this week. When has she EVER not seized the opportunity to promote herself?

Waller rescheduled his spot. Is he laying low, hoping this story will fade away?

Barneich??? She’ll do what the others do…every time. Another poster commented on her failure to put Steve Adams on administrative leave. Remember that vote with Barbara Harmon and Jim Guthrie to drag Commissioner Mack’s name through the mud, then participating in an almost 90 minute public flogging? When Harmon stunned the other two by suddenly voting to drop the argument (damage done), Barneich wouldn’t even vote to support her decision to kick Mack of the planning commission, and sheepishly acquiesced. She is a follower, not a leader. It’s unfortunate she follows the wrong group.


justbeware: How can you go after Barneich on a legitimate integrity issue about city council candidate John Mack? Barneich had the fortitude to change her mind after hearing all the testimony. That shows leadership in my book.

Talk about public flogging, how about Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill’s public flogging and attack of OCSD member Mary Lucey? A public censure for just expressing her opinion! Seems like Jim Hill has a pattern of publicly attacking anyone who doesn’t agree with him or questions his actions. Anyone remember a Federal Trade Commission letter?


And I would bet you think Mary Lucey has done nothing wrong? This much is clear.

miles archer

Attacking him for his political views is one thing, let it fly…but this suit is a family matter that sadly is now being “mud-slung” in an attempt to discredit this man.

What really concerns me is the line: “Critics say Richard Waller’s legal actions against his closest relatives indicate he does not exemplify civility.”

Critics? Unnamed of course. Well, unless those “critics” are a member of the Waller family’s inner circle, I would suggest those critics…ahem, STFU in regards to what is clearly a family matter.


Not sure how you expect us to argue with Waller’s political views, from a guy with no political experience and has given us no details on what he would do as mayor, and has pushed the majority of his campaign on the single issue of him saying he will be more civil than Mayor Hill. If you want us to to address his political views maybe you can tell him to actually give us some of them, in detail, not political talk.

John Waller

You are partly right, it is a family matter to a point. But it is also a demonstration of his character which will be reflected in his function as mayor. For example, while he lived here for 8 years til my mom’s death, I thought we were slowly moving towards friendship. Some of you have experienced how friendly he can appear. The day after mom dies, I get up to take a shower, and find he had entered the house while I was asleep and went through her papers. He had filled 2 garbage bags with her various papers. When I protested and pointed out that I would never enter his home and go through his papers, he said it was a different situation. My going through his home was wrong, his going through mine was okay. I do not know about you, but the idea of someone coming into my home without my knowledge, kind of creepy. This is typical of him, what is fine for him is not fine for others.

you want something not connected to the suit? When our youngest brother died about 13 years ago, he left a widow and 2 young children, ages 5 and 10. She went through a dark time, she had lost the love of her life, her daughter was traumatized by her fathers death. Did Richard show compassion and offer to help her in any way?? No, he and his wife tried to have her children removed from her.

Another example of what is fine for him, but not for others. When his son was born, his ex-girlfriend raised him for 7 years. Richard refused to pay court mandated child support, even to the point of getting low paying jobs so he could not afford it. BUT, when it was his turn to take care of the boy. He harassed the ex-girlfriend and bullied her about child support, which she was giving. In other words, it was wrong for him to pay child support, but completely right for her to pay it.

The one mistake that everyone is making is that he is being used by various groups to regain the Mayoral ship. No way, he is taking advantage of their need to advance his cause. if they ever disagree with him, they will lose “control” of him. He is his own man, not someone’s puppet.


As I understand it, it is pretty difficult to get a judge to overturn a will. People contest wills but seldom win. It sounds like June was trying to be fair to all – but a death in the family where money is involved can bring out the absolute worst in people.




In a prior Opinion, (Waller’s mayoral candidacy versus Mayor Hill, September 8, 2016), I said, “Both Waller and Hill are excellent individuals where the weight in this election favors Hill.”

I have to come to have a different Opinion about Waller that in part is magnified by the incident with his own family. It concerns Waller’s thinking on points he disagrees with. .

Waller sent the following email to me commenting on the CCN Opinion:

“Otis, I would like you to submit a correction to your cal coast news article, submitting the following text: ‘A moratorium is something I would consider, providing it is based in science, has triggers to start it, triggers to end it, and is carefully designed. A moratorium won’t save Arroyo Grande a drop of water. It will; not add a certain amount of future use. Based on our current water usage it will save about 2 gallons per person per day if all projects currently permitted or in the permitting process are built. Simply cutting our water usage to the usage of Grover Beach would save 10 gallons per person per day. We could start that today.’ Not doing so would be unethical”

I wrote back to Waller, “Please send the comment, it confirms your pro growth stance,”

Waller did not send the comment.

He didn’t for an apparent reason: Waller probably does not wish to politically confirm his allegiance with Barneich’s and Ray’s pro growth, pro developer positions. It would confirm that Waller is pro growth.

Waller replied to me that I should personally send his comment, and if I don’t I would be unethical!

I could say Waller is unethical for saying that Mayor Jim Hill is un Civil where Waller cannot point to any single City Meeting or item on any Agenda as Hill being un Civil. But I will not. Waller is just wrong in saying this as he is in suggesting I am unethical if I don’t agree and send his comment on the CCN Opinion. For Waller to instruct me that I am unethical if I do not post his comment is bizarre.

Even though I have said I like Waller – I am critical of his qualifications and political experience — I consider this as an example why Waller should not be Mayor. He argues that my opinion is unethical because he disagrees with it. I strongly believe a moratorium on development should occur and that it is a major issue in the election as stated in the above CNN Opinion.

I also believe Hill, Akins and Mack should be favored by the citizens of Arroyo Grande in the coming election for many reasons besides their supporting a moratorium now!.


The most UNCIVIL thing I have seen at a Arroyo Grande City Council Meeting lately is Councilwoman Harmon insisting on bringing John Mack’s life onto an agenda!


Jorge Estrada

This is as normal defecation. Families with diverse assets and large estates often need a California ruling to avoid unilateral changes. Like it or not, our civil courts do this as media creates a story for their business.

John Waller

You believe this, and I do not blame you, because we have not discussed the issues in the suits. And we will not until the lawyers say it is okay which maybe too late for the election. But, both the lawsuit and the election are character driven. That is, Richard’s character is what is shaping things. In his mind his ideas are right, because they are his ideas. He has no room for opposition ideas. AS long as the opposition is mild or timid, he has no problem, but when they really challenge him, he can get quite hard. I am concerned as to what would happen in a council meeting if he meets with strong opposition to a stand of his, especially if it is his own idea.


My word, you are describing the late Tony Ferrera to a T and that’s really scary.

We finally got rid of him – we don’t need his clone two short years later.


I think you are describing someone who could really cause damage to Arroyo Grande.If he does not play well with others, what will council members do when he just refuses to do anything because folks don’t like HIS idea?

Jorge Estrada

Agreed there are those who care less about the big picture and are focused on the mirror. My parents put in their trust the $1 option, if you fight you win $1 and nothing else.