While the college lifestyle allows many students to pass by politics and local issues without voice or notice, the upcoming June 3 election of the Fifth District County Supervisor may have a great impact on the lives of students.
Debbie Arnold, a former Cal Poly student, will be gunning for the position against incumbent candidate Jim Patterson. The position encompasses authority over Atascadero, Santa Margarita, Creston, Carrisa Plains and parts of San Luis Obispo, including Cal Poly and surrounding areas.
“If elected supervisor, I would welcome student input, and I would stress that the future is yours and the government will be what you make of it,” Arnold said.
Arnold is a resident of Pozo and a member of a ranching family within the county, though she was raised in the Bay Area and graduated from high school in San Jose.
Afterward, Arnold attended Cal Poly in 1973 as an animal science major, but decided to pursue an associate of arts degree in early childhood education from Cuesta College.
With her degree, she owned and operated an Atascadero preschool until she became a legislative assistant to the former County Supervisor Mike Ryan. In 2004, Arnold became an aid for Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee until she left in 2007 to run for office. She is also currently a member of the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Committee.
“Working with Supervisor Ryan, I learned a lot about county government and processes and working with constituents. Working with Blakeslee, I learned how to use the legislative process and how to work with state and federal government to benefit the people of San Luis Obispo County,” Arnold said.
She also said that Blakeslee helped her learn about problem solving issues and consensus building.
She has many overall goals for the fifth district as a whole as well as specific goals to help students who live in San Luis Obispo.
Her overall issues include focusing on safety within the community, protecting the environment and open space, making sure that the rights of homeowners are preserved, and restoring public trust.
When it comes to students, she advocates for programs that give students a safe ride home. She also helped advocate funding to continue an established program while she worked with Blakeslee’s office.
“I believe it’s a good program to have in San Luis Obispo because we have a student population and a social aspect downtown. It is important to provide that population with services that fit their lifestyles,” Arnold said.
She said that since students make up nearly 50 percent of the population in San Luis Obispo, they should be equally represented.
Arnold also said land use is a big issue relating to students because recreational opportunities are important for the college demographic and it is necessary to ensure the beauty of the county for the future.
“As a parent, I want to give something back so it will be this nice for your generation,” Arnold said.
Aside from being a former Poly student herself, Arnold also has two children who graduated from Cal Poly in 2000 and 2002. One of her goals for the San Luis Obispo area is being able to help create compromises between local students and other residents.
Arnold emphasized that she feels it is important for students to educate themselves before voting and deciding which issues are important for the future.
“I understand how to work through the legislative processes at every level, and have made a lot of good contacts at the state and federal level,” Arnold said.
“Having kids that went through Cal Poly helps her understand why safe ride programs are important for some students and it’s good that she’s willing to advocate for this kind of safety,” nutrition senior Coleen Farias said.