(Photo by Nha Ha)
Students have a chance to talk with two of the candidates vying for a seat on the San Luis Obispo City Council on campus Thursday.
The event, coordinated by the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Student Government Advocacy Committee, is meant to serve as an opportunity for collaboration between students and the city, ASI secretary of community relations Joi Sullivan said.
“The whole purpose of the event is to start a relationship with whoever wins the election,” Sullivan said, “and to increase collaboration between students and the city.”
The event will begin with time for one-on-one conversations with the candidates before Brown and Christianson take a few minutes to introduce themselves. The hour will finish up with approximately 20 minutes dedicated to an open Q&A session, Sullivan said.
ASI will provide handouts that summarize the background of student issues with the city, such as neighborhood relationships between students and long-time residents.
Sullivan said the Q&A time is open to any questions, and they hope to hear from the candidates about issues students might not be aware of yet — such as how the city will react to the proposed additional freshman housing project on campus.
Brown, who graduated from Cal Poly with a degree in agricultural science, said his experience as a former student, a local business owner and now a longtime resident will help him bridge the gap between more permanent residents and students.
“There’s always a divide between the student population in SLO and the more permanent residents,” Brown said. “I can see things from both sides, and I can meet with both sides and find middle ground.”
Brown moved out of town for a few years after graduation, but returned not long after to open his own business — Mo|Tav — which he owned for 15 years before selling it in 2009.
Brown also previously served on the city council from 2004 to 2008.
Christianson has prior experience with the city as well. She has served as the planning commissioner for both the city of San Luis Obispo for the past six years and for the county for five.
She moved to San Luis Obispo with her family in 1989 in part because of the “energy” that Cal Poly brings to the community.
Christianson said she hoped to spend time Thursday talking about housing options for students as well as neighborhood wellness issues.
“I hope that I can get a chance to not only meet the student leaders and find out what their concerns are, but begin a working relationship,” Christianson said.
Brown and Christianson are two of five candidates running in the special election for the city council seat vacated by Andrew Carter.
After Carter stepped down in February to take a different job, the council voted unanimously to hold a special vote-by-mail election, rather than appointing someone to take Carter’s seat for the remaining two years.
Ballots were sent out on May 20 and voters must return them to the City Clerk’s Office on Palm Street by June 18.