San Luis Obispo County Elections face a lack of candidates

As deadlines pass for candidates to file their paperwork to get on local ballots, San Luis Obispo County seems likely to have several uncontested elections and a few blank ballots. As of press time, 41 local elections will see unopposed candidates, including four mayoral and two city council races, and seven races have no candidates at all.

When the deadline passed to register as a candidate for mayor or city council member Monday, Arroyo Grade Mayor Tony Ferrara and city council members Jim Guthrie and Caren Ray stood alone on their ballots, as did Paso Robles Mayor Duane Picanco, Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham, and Tom O’Malley, an Astascadero city councilmember who seeks to be that city’s new mayor. Unless a popular write-in candidate emerges, these six candidates will be guaranteed their seats in November.

According to The Tribune, Picano didn’t care that he was unopposed, and pledged to campaign anyway. However, most of these candidates said they appreciated having what Ferrara called “breathing room”.

Other races that will see no opposition include those for the county Board of Education, various local school boards, community service district councils in places like Avila Beach, California Valley, Los Osos, Oceano, San Simeon, and others, and more minor local offices like Fire Services Director, Sanitary District Director, and so on.

But at least these offices have somebody who will take office. As of press time, the following races had no candidates whatsoever, leaving the possibility that they will be left vacant come November: one of the seats on the Shandon Unified School District’s board, one of the vacancies in the California Valley Community Services District, both vacant seats in the Linne Community Services District, the vacancy in the Squire Cannon Community Services District, the vacant seat in the Santa Maragrita Fire Protection District, and one of the vacancies in the Cambria Community Healthcare District. According to Juile Rodewald, the county’s clerk-recorder, if these seats are not filled then somebody will be appointed to fill the seat – by the other members of the school board in Shandon’s case, and by the county’s Board of Supervisors in the other cases.

Though San Luis Obispo County is a small county, The Tribune notes that this is the lowest turnout for candidates in many years. It is unclear why this is the case – it may simply be “a fluke”, as The Tribune suggests, or perhaps there is less interest in politics this election year than most years. Whatever the reason, it will make for some rather uneventful local elections.

The deadline to file for some races have been extended through today. For more information, you can visit the County Clerk-Recorder’s Office website.