Arroyo Grande Mayor pulls support from grieving parents

March 21, 2019


Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray Russom ordered the parents of a Cal Poly student killed in a motorcycle crash at the intersection of El Campo Road and Highway 101 to remove a petition she earlier signed saying she does not agree with the content, causing the parents to question if her previous support was politically motivated. [Cal Coast Times]

Shortly before 5 p.m. on Oct. 7, Jordan Grant was riding his motorcycle southbound on Highway 101 near El Campo Road in Arroyo Grande. A man living in the Falcon Ridge Estates on the west side of Highway 101, attempting to make a left turn onto the highway, pulled out in front of Jordan Grant’s motorcycle killing him.

On Oct. 17, Jordan Grant’s father James Grant reached out to several public officials, including Ray Russom, regarding the need to change the intersection of Highway 101 and El Campo Road to make it safer until it could be modified to promote safety.

“Another fatality while we shuffle papers, and hold meetings and discussions will be inexcusable and we all will be held to account,” James Grant said. “It took only seven weeks between the August 15 accident that broke Suzie Smith’s back and my son Jordan being killed. I ask you to fix this problem now before anyone else is hurt. Act as if it’s your son or daughter in the cross hairs of the El Campo death trap.”

Mayor Caren Ray Russom

Later on Oct. 17, then mayoral candidate Ray Russom reached out in an email to Caltrans District 5 Director Tim Gubbins asking him to contact James Grant about issues with the intersection.

“The outpouring of support for the family, along with outrage that this intersection has gone unchanged for decades, has been overwhelming,” Ray Russom wrote in the email to Gubbins.  “As of this morning, almost 9,000 people have signed the online petition demanding change. Here is the link.

Shortly after Ray Russom sent James Grant a copy of the letter she sent to Caltrans, James Grant posted Ray Russom’s campaign photo and an excerpt from her correspondence with Caltrans, under the headline, “Caren Ray takes action to support elimination of the El Campo & 101 deathtrap.”

Grant also used the website to endorse Ray Russom and other candidates who supported modifying or changing the El Campo interchange.

“Vote Today in memory of Jordan,” the site says near a photo of Ray Russom.

Ray Russom won her seat by a narrow margin of 535 votes over two-time incumbent Jim Hill.

After winning the election, Ray Russon informed James Grant that she needed to rest after the election but would get back with him to discuss the intersection.

On Feb. 17, which would have been Jordan Grant’s 19th birthday, Ray Russom sent an email to his parents asking them to take down the petition post about her contact with Caltrans.

“It has come to my attention that someone has misrepresented my position on the El Campo intersection on the website,” Ray Russom wrote. “I did not say at any time that I was advocating for elimination of that intersection. I remember sending you an email awhile back clarifying that I was not in favor of a permanent closure.”

Ray Russom is now threatening to go to the website administrator to have the post removed.

“I’m asking for the fourth time, please remove the post. I do not have to justify this. If it is not removed, I will contact,” Ray Russom wrote James Grant on March 17. “Please remove it immediately.”

Ray Russom has not responded to requests for comment. James Grant does not plan to change the petition, which now has more than 26,000 signatures.

“While running for office, Arroyo Grande Mayor Caren Ray supported the pursuits to increase safety at the intersection of El Campo Road and Highway 101,” James Grant said. “The problem is, the petition update is accurate. I checked once again. It primarily shows a letter Caren Ray wrote herself to Caltrans asking that something be done about El Campo and 101.”

James Grant is continuing to promote safety at the interchange. He wants Caltrans to stop allowing left hand turns across four lanes of freeway while they seek a permanent solution.

“Our position has always been to just stop the left hand turns across the freeway,” James Grant said. “We don’t care how that is done. Build an overpass, build an underpass, do so for only the left hand lane turn – in one direction and save some money – we don’t care. Just stop the insanity of having people pull out in front of southbound traffic traveling at freeway speeds.”

SLOCOG is conducting an assessment of the implications of restricting access on the Highway 101 and El Campo Road intersection.

On March 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., SLOCOG is hosting a public outreach meeting at the Arroyo Grande Hospital Annex Conference Room (345 South Halcyon Road, Arroyo Grande), to discuss the assessment process and the implications of shutting down the intersection. The public can provide written public comments, that will be placed in the record.


As Mayor Ray says “I do not have to justify this”. We all know this is her attitude about most things. Can you understand an elected official saying they they don’t feel they need to justify their actions? She got her votes for supporting it and now that the election is over……. This is part of the reason why we will get the most expensive alternative for the Brisco interchange, Mayor Ray has wanted a roundabout for years and now she is in a position to get it. No worry that we don’t have the money, she doesn’t care, but she will get her name on AG’s first roundabout.


Ferrara wanted his name on the roundy-round. Having Ray get her name on it is the next best thing. Why else would he come back to help her before the election?


Caren Ray Rossum: unfit to lead, recall her.

AG deserves better.


I listened to Mr Grant plead his case. It was gut wrenching. He was correct on many points. There has been and continues to be a great deal of pressure and influence being pushed by one particular property owner to keep El Campo open. Undoubtedly there are others. A property owner who’s hoping the city will annex his property attempted to sell an elected official on his plan. After her election, a one term and done council member seemed to be under his spell. One by one he befriends those he feels can further his goal of developing his property. He promises to “pay his fair share” but make no mistake, taxpayers will pay the lion’s share and he will fill his pockets. Just the other day a supporter of the mayor posted that the city was going to be annexing property soon.

It pains me greatly that this grieving family was duped by our Mayor, that she said and did anything necessary to achieve her goal of winning the election. Now not only has she turned her back on them, she it going on the offensive against them. Make no mistake, Mr Grant helped elect Russom, but others throughout the city also have voters remorse. More and more are learning the hard way that Ray Russom used them for their votes and are also seeing her true colors.

For those who didn’t support Ray Russom it’s going to be a long two years. For some who did it may be even longer.


Is anyone surprised that Caren Ray Rossum is acting hypocritically? Really?

It sure doesn’t surprise me one bit that Caren Ray Rossum shows her hypocritical politician’s mindset in doing a 180 on the concerns of Mr. James Grant regarding the dangerous conditions on El Campo Rd./Hwy. 101, because Caren Ray Rossum has made a career out of hypocrisy.

Caren Ray Rossum has called for civility and respect in our politics, but she has acted contrary to those values. One of her main supporters and close friends, Patty Welsh, just pled guilty to a felony for destruction of property and campaign signs. Integrity?

Caren Ray Possum actually took money from drug dealers to finance her campaign for mayor in the last election, and she was willing to go down that sordid road because she has a ‘win at all cost’ attitude about politics, and I wonder what her association with these drug dealers means to her children?

In my opinion, Caren Ray Rossum is not fit to lead our community. She associated with felons, takes money from drug dealers and, as we see here, plays political games with serious issues. At a minimum, Ms. Ray Rossum ought to apologize to Mr. James Grant, return the money she took from the drug dealers, and explain to voters why she associates with felons like Patty Welsh.

Ms. Caren Ray Possum, we deserve better.


One more time I ask,

How can Driver’s pull out in front of Motorcycles and it is not Manslaughter!

Dan Dow needs to answer this question,

4 rider’s killed and no one charged!

Noodly Appendages

Never have I been able to find the name of this deadly driver published.

” A man living in the Falcon Ridge Estates on the west side of Highway 101,…”

Which man? Please? It makes me wonder if this person is of the ‘protected’ class of citizen.

justice counts

After reading Julie’s article we listened to the Dave Congalton Radio Show link (as suggested below). Thank you Dave for giving Mr. Grant a forum to appeal to all of us to do the right thing, at the right time (now) and support the closure of this entrance to the roadway.

We are heartbroken for the family and moved by Mr. Grant and his appeal for better judgement to protect everyone’s safety before it is too late for the next accident victim. Mr.Grant deserves everyone’s support in his fight to correct this dangerous area.

Mayor Ray Russom’s behavior related in the article and on the show is unconscionable. Mr. Grant deserves to learn why the Mayor changed her direction, after the election.

We all do!


I have grieved a child (my stepdaughter died in 2017 at only 27 years old) and am living through the devastation it has caused our entire family and network of friends. I grieve for the Grants and every child that has been taken from this earth far too soon. Ms. Ray Russom’s cold callus cruel heartless correspondence with James Grant is nothing less than sickening.

Full well knowing, likely supportive of, the 262 acre development and annexation looms over the City of Arroyo Grande and the city’s growing pains it’s already experiencing, Ray Russom was only interested in the Grants plight for her own political gain. Her flip-flop of support for a change at El Cammpo makes it apparent her only interest was to access those signatories of the petition to aide her campaign — i.e. to get their votes.

Ray Russom jumped on a bandwagon; “As of this morning, almost 9,000 (today that number is over 26,000) people have signed the online petition demanding change.” This was Oct. 17th…when her campaign was in the throes of defending itself from the Paint Your Wagon/PaddyWagon/Patty Welsh (everyone in Arroyo Grande knew who) vandalism spree of Jim Hill’s campaign signs of Oct. 9th.

Ray Russom prides herself on running a “clean campaign” yet, her henchman, Patty Welsh, terrorized the city when nearly all police personnel was at the council meeting. Welsh’s premeditated — filling and throwing Christmas ornaments with paint did close to $10,000 in damage to public and private property.

Listen to the podcast of today’s Congalton Show interview with James Grant. It will break your heart!


We all know by now everything Mayor Ray does is politically motivated…..$$$$$