Rivoire graduated from Cal Poly in 2007, and of the five candidates running for the two council seats, he is the youngest. | Photo Courtesy of Ken Kienow

Emily Kucera
Special to Mustang News

If you look at photos of the five candidates running for San Luis Obispo City Council, it’s easy to spot Dan Rivoire; he’s the young one.

Rivoire, 29, graduated from Cal Poly in 2007, the youngest of the five candidates running for the two council seats.

Rivoire’s roots are in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a small town outside Chicago that instilled in him a love for strong community, Rivoire said. From there, Rivoire moved to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly, where he says he found that same sense of belonging. After graduating, he decided to live permanently in San Luis Obispo. He’s been a part of the community ever since.

During his time at Cal Poly, Rivoire worked in Student Life and Leadership on events oriented toward dialogue, discussion and compromise.

Since graduating in 2007 with a degree in philosophy and minors in religious studies and women’s and gender studies, Rivoire has built an extensive résumé.

He is a former AmeriCorps member, has served on several city and county committees and is the current executive director of the SLO County Bicycle Coalition. Rivoire said his experience from the Bicycle Coalition — operating a small business and working with local governments — has prepared him to sit on the council.

According to Rivoire, 65 percent of the San Luis Obispo community is younger than 44 years old, but there is no one younger than 60 on city council. Rivoire believes there is no direct representation of young people and little indirect representation.

“You don’t see a lot of students — or not just students, young professionals, like anyone under 40 — in the city government, at the meetings, brainstorming about solutions and things,” he said. “Which means the solutions that are proposed might not work for these other demographics.”

But former city planning commissioner Richard Schmidt did not consider age a factor when it came to adequately representing all demographics of a community.

“I don’t think that representation is an age thing,” Schmidt said. “I think it’s an understanding thing. And if we have the assumption that we need all age groups, well, that’s not a good argument. What we need to look at is what people stand for and how they treat the people who come before them.”

Rivoire’s opponents say his youthfulness translates to inexperience.

Former mayor, council member and planning commissioner of San Luis Obispo Allen Settle said Rivoire needs more experience in intergovernmental relationships, not just the city government.

“Rivoire has no real experience in government,” Settle said. “His experience is in the bike coalition, which is a small business, but SLO is not a small business.”

Settle said Rivoire is currently an “unknown quantity” and would like to know more about what he stands for. Schmidt also had questions about Rivoire’s beliefs.

“He is a very strong candidate,” Schmidt said. “He certainly is attractive because of his youthfulness and his bike work, but beyond that I’ve got some major misgivings … I have big doubts about what he stands for, because he is unclear about it.”

However, former city county planning commissioner Eric Meyer said Rivoire’s youthfulness would be a benefit to the council.

“A lot of what city council plans is not for right this minute,” Meyer said. “It’s for the next 20-30 years, and so to have someone who is 70 years old planning for 30 years from now just doesn’t seem appropriate to me. It’s almost like we need the youngest people possible to be planning so that they get what they want to get done now rather than having to redo it all over again 30 years later.”

Rivoire’s goals

  • Local government to better reflect the demographics of the community
  • Get young people more involved in local government
  • Continue a half percent sales tax that has been in place for eight years through “Yes on Measure G”
  • Challenge the Airport Land Use Commission on housing restrictions
  • Develop additional housing
  • Complete essential road and transportation infrastructure projects
  • Preserve the quality of life in San Luis Obispo

Though Rivoire thinks more housing on campus is important, he wishes the university and city would have talked more about the impacts of the Housing South project before moving forward. Rivoire would have liked to see investments in solutions to whatever problems are going to arise from additional housing.

“If the discussion had played out better, I think the university would have invested more money making improvements to Grand Avenue so that it could handle the traffic and also helped the neighborhood address their concerns,” he said.

Rivoire would like to improve the relationships between residents and students who are sharing the same neighborhoods. He believes residents should feel like they can talk directly with their student neighbors to solve problems, instead of involving the police and using enforcement to solve things.

“All you hear about is the city council passing another way to ticket students for couches on their front porch or noisy parties,” he said. “And there’s a lot of complaining in the community about students, and I feel like it’s part of the reason why students aren’t a part of (the local government).”

By getting more young people involved in local government, Rivoire said, some of the tension between Cal Poly students and local residents can be relieved.

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