Arroyo Grande mayor’s threats stopped me from running

August 7, 2020

Caren Ray-Russom


I considered running for Mayor of Arroyo Grande because I disagree with the current administration on a number of issues. I don’t believe diverse viewpoints are welcome at the council and I don’t like the condescending and hypocritical attitudes people experience from the mayor when expressing them. Not coincidentally, staff morale is at a very low point and we’ve recently had resignations of many key employees including the city manager.

Change requires not only for three people to accept the challenge, which I am willing to do, but for the whole community to realize there’s a problem and understand that diverse viewpoints make the decision making process stronger. After obtaining the registration papers to run for mayor, I received an email from Caren Ray Russom, the current mayor and candidate for a second term.

She indicated that if I were to run, two things would happen. First, my kids and my husband would be put through “ugliness” that would “air out all your dirty laundry for everyone to see and attach to your business.”

Not my issues – my kids, my husband, and my business. “It will put you and your family out into the ugly world of politics, which I assure you is nasty beyond your wildest dreams.”

Since I would only be running against her, I have to take that as a direct threat regarding her own tactics, which I’ve seen in her previous campaigns. Instead of running on issues, my family and business would be maliciously attacked.

Second, Ms. Ray Russom stated that if I didn’t run, taxpayers would be saved the $28,000 cost of holding an election because all the incumbents would be unopposed. How hypocritical! One of her self-serving acts after being elected was to raise the mayor’s pay and that of the council members at taxpayer expense. Council members take thousands of taxpayer dollars to pay their health insurance costs because they think the established stipends are insufficient for their part time efforts.

Ray Russom only agreed to pay taxpayers back the $18 for a shot of whiskey she charged on a city expense account after a local activist spotted it and complained. Nasty politics? Ray Russom voted to spend $100,000 of taxpayer funds to have the previous mayor “investigated” as she was planning to run against him. Concern for the taxpayers? Seriously? She’s only seems concerned to save herself the cost of a campaign.

Ms. Ray Russom is as concerned for the taxpayers as she is for civil and democratic process; her disdain for all is obvious. I’ve decided not to run for mayor at this time. Ray Russom may win in Arroyo Grande, but taxpayers, democracy, and civil discourse are the losers.

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This is pure fluff and zero substance. For starters what exactly are the “diverse opinions” that aren’t being heard there? Provide some specifics!

Arroyo Grande’s own Karen

Support politicians with a sense of public service. Katcho and Dan Carpenter come to mind.

You can add a lot of names to that list on the right and the left. Howard Mankins and Mike Ryan, right. Shirley Bianchi, Kurt Kupper, Richard Kresja, Jim Patterson, even coke-head David Blakely, left. All decent people who could agree to disagree. The right still seems reasonable, even when I disagree with them. The left, not so much. Viscous, corrupt, and given to personal attacks, like Adam Hill and his minion Aaron Ochs, and Heidi Harmon and her mob.

Katcho supported Ray to save a portion of his gas station, and cost AG about $13M by doing so.

Ray-Russom is straight out of the Tom Fulks-Adam Hill-AO incubator. No principles whatsoever.

With all do respect, you shouldn’t caved to her threats. It would have been better to exposed her threat in more detail with proof, and use her words against her. She has already shown that she is self-centered and has tremendous greed for power and control. Use all of it against her. She’s a bully. Bully’s are really cowards. Punch back with authority against these Progressive political hacks like Caren Ray. All your doing is letting her dig her political claws in deeper. Someone step up to uproot and declaw this hapless mayor.

There are probably skeletons in that closet she doesn’t want coming out to the pubic.

After reading the email, I see that the mayor pointed out a conflict of interest Lea has as co-owner of Freedom Ropes ( they sell tow ropes and help tow people out at the Dunes) Lea and her husband are very pro-OHV on the Dunes ( as is their right) and are very vocal at meetings etc. If Lea was running to get a place on the APCD board (air pollution control district), a group Lea has been highly critical of, she would not be able to due to their financial interests in the dunes. I think Lea’s decision to run was a knee jerk reaction to the closing of the dunes, the continued debate over air quality and snowy plover and how it effects her family’s business.I’m sure they have taken a huge financial hit and fear an even bigger one if the dunes does not reopen. If that email I read is the complete email, then its a huge nothing burger and Lea owes the mayor an apology.

Lea is so full of horsesh*t.

1) She has spent several weeks spearheading a campaign of hate and harassment against OCSD board member Cynthia Replogle. Who is Lea to cry about threats and “playing dirty”. She herself is mired in it. She married into the Guiton/Austin/Hensley family and has picked up their mantle of perceived entitlement.

2) If she really wanted to run, she’d run. Period.

3) If she was really being ‘threatened’ by Caren Ray, her ‘Jerk Pirates Juice’ with Chief Martinez (and former chief Pryor before him) would get her the law enforcement interaction any ‘threat’ would need.

4) “Photo or it didn’t happen”. She used a lot of words to describe something she could have just shown everyone. Dollars to donuts a public records request of Ray’s emails won’t have this particular one.

5) The thought of this woman, who can’t even keep her non-profit on the straight & narrow, needing critical thinking skills to parse complicated and intricate information, for the betterment of Arroyo Grande? Yeah. Not so much.

6) She doesn’t even know where she lives. She gives interviews stating she lives in Oceano but she’s an AG resident, for the potential purpose of running for office?

7) My theory: The 5Cities protest at Oak Park and Grand Ave revealed a very slimy underbelly of our community. The Jerk Pirates radiated hate and anger towards the legal local protesters, the cops on scene were taking selfies and cracking wise with the Head Jerk (Lea’s husband), Mr. Burly “Kick Your Ass If You Look At Me” Hackleman jumped at the opportunity to instill fear and loathing toward our own neighbors, with his guns and goons on his rooftop.

Fast forward where Mayor Ray wants a dialogue about police interaction with the community and all of a sudden the police chief cites early retirement and bolts with two week’s notice. Think about when Ferrera completely botched the Steve Adams/Theresa McClish debacle and the police went in on a “vote of no confidence” for him, leading to his ultimate defeat to write-in candidate Mayor Hill.

Lea writes “staff morale is at a very low point”. The same *concern* that was raised against Ferrera back in his twilight. I think the AGPD (association, lol) WAS trolling for a mayoral replacement, but Lea just fell short and there wasn’t enough time to find a realistic candidate.

I would so love a real, viable candidate to run for AG Mayor. Caren learned at the feet of Tony Ferrera and that guy’s disdain for us mere locals was palpable. She continues that tradition, sadly.

If the author packed it in because of an email then I don’t think politics is for her.

Likely not the kind of politics in AG

Welcome to world of ‘small’ town politics! AG is not alone in having a city ran by just a select few – where diverse opinions are not welcome. Despite all the other things she may or may not have done; I will say this about your mayor – at least she was not willing to blindly accept a higher sales tax measure – AG being the only city in SLO county that is not trying to bleed more money from their residents. That is worth something to me – I am 100% against cities always begging for more money. Learn to live on what you already have, just like the rest of us has to do.

Lea, it would have been proper to show us the whole email so we could see the entire picture, not just the one you want to paint.

I actually consider this communication from Caren to be an act of kindness that she did for you. Apparently, this would have been your first time in the political arena. Caren is so very correct about how nasty and hurtful political jabs can be to your family even if they are only aimed at you. But when they splash over onto your husbands work and then your kids peers start in on them you have a house full of pain.

Politics is not for the faint of heart and I think your instincts correctly told you to stay out of the messy business! Now in hindsight you would like to blame Caren for YOUR decision. Maybe leadership really is not for you if you won’t take responsibility for you own choices.