Three of the five seats on the County Board of Supervisors will be voted on, and with six candidates in total it can be hard to keep track of all the campaigns. Here is your guide to understanding the election:
The county is divided into five districts of roughly equal population numbers that are not decided by a city’s border. To find what district you live in and who currently represents you, use the county’s Find My Supervisor resource.
The districts that will be voting for a supervisor are Districts 1, 3 and 5. The current supervisors for those districts are John Peschong in District 1, Adam Hill in District 3 and Debbie Arnold in District 5.
All incumbent supervisors are running for re-election and all are being challenged by new candidates Stephanie Shakofsky for District 1, Stacy Korsgaden for District 3 and Ellen Beraud for District 5.
Voting will occur March 3 and to find your nearest polling location input your local address into the county’s polling place search website. Voting by mail will begin Feb. 3 and will continue until March 3.
Incumbent candidate John Peschong is running for a second term as District 1 Supervisor. Peschong represents northern San Luis Obispo County.
Peschong’s campaign is based on three pivotal policies: smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes and more personal freedoms.
Peschong said his policy of lower taxes is influenced by his observation that local tax money is not going towards what it is intended to go towards.
“To me, just be truthful,” Peschong said. “If you’re truthful with people and say we need additional money for ‘X’, then make sure it’s spent on ‘X’. To me, that’s one of the reasons why I got elected: to be a watchdog, just to keep an eye out for those types of things.”
Another issue that Peschong is aiming to address is the homeless crisis throughout the county. There is no homeless shelter within his district, so many people live in the creekbeds.
“We have to give the services to them to get them out of the river,” Peschong said. “It’s a public safety issue. It’s a humanitarian issue.”
Peschong said his goal is to partner with ECHO Homeless Shelter, an Atascadero based shelter, and use state grants through the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) to provide a homeless shelter in Paso Robles.
Beyond policy, Peschong said he also believes in the power of communication in order to bring together the community on certain issues.
An issue Peschong saw at the beginning of his first term was verbal attacks exchanged between supervisors and the public when addressing issues. To solve this, Peschong, along with other elected government leaders, enacted a civility code that established guidelines on how to respectfully communicate with one another.
“We should be able to have freedom to discuss issues as we see fit without making it a personal attack upon somebody else,” Peschong said. “That doesn’t mean you have to disrespect people for what they believe, I just have a difference of opinion and I think somewhere in the middle is probably a really good policy.”
Peschong said that how he communicates with people is inspired by former President Ronald Reagan. Peschong worked for Reagan’s second administration, focusing on video and radio production.
While serving as a supervisor, Peschong has contributed to a variety of governmental groups. Currently, he is Vice-Chair of the Air Pollution Control District(APCD), Vice President of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) and is on the board of the Integrated Waste Management Authority (IWMA) and the Consolidated Oversight Board. He formerly served on the Homeless Services Oversight Council, the Latino Outreach Council, the California State Association of Counties (CSAC) and the Economic Vitality Corporation, according to his campaign website.
Peschong is also a partner of Meridian Pacific in Templeton, a nationwide public affairs firm.
Since becoming a supervisor, Peschong planned to serve a maximum of two terms, so this would be his last if re-elected. His explanation is that he doesn’t need to be a supervisor for any time longer.
“The issues I want to get accomplished, I think will be done,” Peschong said. “I think I’ve contributed to the community.”
Stephanie Shakofsky, a hydrologist who operates a zinfandel vineyard in Paso Robles, is challenging Peschong to represent District 1.
The three main words that describe Shakofsky’s campaign goals are transparency, accountability and compassion, according to her campaign website.
Shakofsky’s first goal of transparency is focused on her “good government reforms,” actions to increase the Board of Supervisors’ transparency and make government more accessible to community members.
“We’ve been very concerned about the way the County Board of Supervisors has been operating sort of behind closed doors,” Shakofsky said. “And it’s a concern for everybody in the county.”
Another issue that Shakofsky is focusing on is water — specifically the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin.
Shakofsky has worked with the U.S. Geological Survey, a federal scientific agency that researches natural resource conditions. From her time working there, Shakofsky said she has become a water expert.
With her expertise, Shakofsky said she wants to create a plan of sustainability that is achievable by everyone who uses the basin.
“As a community, we have been taking more water out of the aquifer than Mother Nature is putting back,” Shakofsky said. “Eventually we’re going to be in trouble.”
Shakofsky’s accountability goal revolves around making sure that the county receives adequate funds from the state in order to maintain and update infrastructure and roads.
Shakofsky was the Executive Director of the Center for Creative Land Recycling, a nonprofit organization that worked to convert vacant properties into useful resources for communities. Through this, Shakofsky said she learned how to access federal and state funding, a skill that would help when upholding her accountability goal.
Her final goal — compassion — is Shakofsky’s mantra when addressing the issue of homelessness and housing. She said there is a need for support services for the homeless.
Shakofsky said she is running a grassroots campaign, meaning her campaign strategy is based on actions such as writing letters to neighbors, volunteer phone banks and knocking door to door.
With this comes its challenges.
“We’re going to get outspent five to one,” Shakofsky said. “What I’m hoping to prove is that a campaign like this, you know, a real grassroots campaign will defeat big money every day.”
Recap of views on main issues:
– Homelessness: Both Peschong and Shakofsky want to address homelessness in order to provide more people shelter. Peschong has goals to open a new homeless shelter in Paso Robles. Shakofsky believes homelessness should be addressed through compassion, providing affordable housing options, shelter and support services.
– Water: Shakofsky’s focus on the issue of water is to create a plan of sustainability for the Paso Robles Groundwater Basin that is achievable by everyone. As this is already being addressed by the Board of Supervisors, Peschong wants to continue working towards a sustainable groundwater supply through a management plan.
Incumbent Adam Hill is running for his fourth term as District 3’s county supervisor.
Hill is running on a variety of county issues but to him, he said the most important issue at the moment is the pending closure of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.
“We want to make sure that the decommissioning is done right,” Hill said. “That it’s done as soon as it possibly can, and that they hire local people who are currently working out there as it is to help offset the impact of the economy.”
Another major issue Hill is focusing on is homelessness. Hill is a part of the Homeless Services Oversight Council for the county, which focuses on addressing issues for the homeless population, according to the Homeless Oversight Council.
A few of Hill’s plans that he will continue to implement are as follows: Community Action Teams (CAT) that address local issues and crimes through local law enforcement partnered with a social worker, the Blue Bag Partnership which works to clean up homeless encampments and SLO Bangers to aid in the disposal of syringes and provide drug harm reduction services.
“We’re trying to address this as holistically as possible,” Hill said.
As a former Cal Poly English professor, Hill has been able to use his connection with the campus to focus on student issues like housing and career opportunities with Cal Poly’s HotHouse.
The HotHouse is a part of the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) to support students and community members pursuing business ventures.
“It’s an important part of the job-creating ecosystem here,” Hill said. “You have a place that literally young entrepreneurs and kids with ideas can get help and get space. They can get assistance from business professionals, lawyers, accountants, people who know how to help them. I think that has been one of the more, for me at least, exciting partnerships that we’ve had with Cal Poly.”
Even though Hill has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2009, he said it is a continual learning experience as there is no “mastery” to local government but rather an ability to master communication of ideas.
“You’re always kind of learning and hopefully adapting,” Hill said. “A reason why you should never be too married to a certain ideology or way of thinking because, at least at the local level, you should try to be adaptable. You’re always trying to be practical. You’re always trying to figure out how to solve certain problems.”
Because many students live within the district Hill currently represents, Hill said that students can benefit from voting in local elections even though many come from outside of the county.
“You’re here and you actually could have an impact,” Hill said.
Stacy Korsgaden is a Farmer’s Insurance agent and business owner in Grover Beach. She is challenging incumbent Adam Hill.
The four main issues Korsgaden is focusing on are solutions for the homeless, changing the tone, economic development and protecting the environment, according to her campaign website.
A state of emergency should be established on homelessness in order to “triage” the homeless population to provide them with support in mental health and drug and alcohol addiction, according to Korsgaden.
“Being an insurance agent, we’ve dealt with people that don’t have homes,” Korsgaden said. “It’s called an emergency.”
Korsgaden said she wants to “bring civility and stability back to the local government level” through different actions to include the community more.
“What’s really weird about public service is I have to talk 80 percent of the time and listen 20 [percent] but in my work, and once I’m elected, I’m going to flip that back around again,” Korsgaden said.
When dealing with key issues like homelessness, the closure of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant and keeping the Oceano Dunes open for vehicle recreation use, which is being reduced as a result of health concerns, Korsgaden considers herself “solutions-oriented.”
Korsgaden said that her experience of problem-solving while working as an insurance agent has prepared her to become a county supervisor.
“I was able to solve [my customer’s] problem and I want to transfer that to the public,” Korsgaden said. “That service that I’ve given my clients … I want to give that to my customers in District 3.”
Korsgaden has been recognized as one of the top six Farmers Insurance agents in the country. Due to this recognition, she was invited to be a part of the Rose Bowl Parade and stand on the Farmers Insurance float.
Through her experience as an insurance agent, Korsgaden said she knows what the community desire and she wants to be that voice for them.
“They’re screaming in the community,” Korsgaden said. “They want the Oceano Dunes to remain open, they want jobs protected, they want traffic to be solved and they want the homeless issue to be solved. I would take the hardest one of those three and I would deal with it first and I would be very, very bold.”
Recap of views on main issues:
– Homelessness: Hill plans to address homelessness in a holistic way, including a variety of programs to safely clean up homeless encampments. Korsgaden wants to establish a state of emergency on homelessness in order to provide them temporary shelter and access to services for mental health and drug and alcohol addiction.
– Closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant: Hill is focusing on the decommissioning process of the power plant, ensuring to hire local workers to help aid in the impact the closure has on the economy. Korsgaden wants to address the jobs lost due to the closure of the power plant, replacing the power plant with another “big-time income generator.”
– Environment: Korsgaden’s approach to environmental policies is finding solutions that protect the environment while still allowing for recreational use. Hill is focusing on sustainable water management, policies that preserve the natural environment and opening new recreational land use like the Pismo Preserves.
Incumbent supervisor Debbie Arnold’s campaign is focusing on what she believes are the main issues the public is focusing on: affordable housing and homelessness.
Other issues she is prioritizing are eliminating failed government programs, promoting the economy, protecting rural areas and promote public safety through the police and fire department, according to her campaign website.
After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in animal science, she began working with her husband, Steve Arnold, on his family ranch.
It wasn’t until Arnold was offered a job as a legislative assistant for the county that her political career began. After five years, she was then offered to be a field representative for former state assemblyman Sam Blakeslee.
Arnold said that she had not planned for this career, but that “life throws something at you and you change direction.”
“When I decided to run in my own right, it was simply to be a voice of what I thought was regular people with regular issues,” Arnold said. “That’s what I do this for.”
Although Arnold is still running to promote what her community believes in, she also wants to keep using the skills she acquired while being a supervisor in order to better serve the community.
“I have the experience, so much experience, under my belt now I want to continue to use it rather than just walk away and go home and say, ‘okay guys, somebody else figure it out’ because it is a learning curve, you know, to really understand everything, all the moving parts of county government,” Arnold said.
Of all the work she has done, what Arnold said she is the proudest of is her work in establishing the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center. The services it provides include counseling, medical care and even an animal kennel. The facility will be opening a detox center as well, according to Arnold.
Arnold said that the success of the 40 Prado Homeless Services Center is all thanks to the collaborative effort that went into its creation.
“In this county, bringing people together and collaborating on things and finding solutions and then being able to act on them, all of that has been so rewarding,” Arnold said.
As Arnold’s district contains a large student population, she wants the students to feel recognized in the county and be provided the resources to stay local after graduation.
“I hope that [the students] feel like they’re recognized as such a big part of this county and an important part of the county,” Arnold said.
Former Atascadero mayor Ellen Beraud is a first-time candidate running for the District 5 supervisor position.
All of the issues that Beraud’s campaign is addressing are the Santa Margarita gravel mine, sensible cannabis regulations, roads and infrastructure, housing, sustainable groundwater management and child care, according to her campaign website.
For her sustainable groundwater management plan, Beraud wants to explore other options than just cutting back in order to be sustainable yet still provide for the local agriculture businesses.
“You have to be holistic when you look at an environmental situation like that,” Beraud said. “You can’t just think ‘okay, this one little thing is gonna fix everything.’ No, you gotta have a lot of tools in your toolbox.”
Of all the county issues that Beraud’s campaign is addressing, homelessness and housing have become the top two, according to Beraud.
Beraud is a supporter of more on-campus housing for Cal Poly students to not only alleviate the students’ stress of finding housing but also the stress put on the community.
Beraud also served on the Homeless Services Oversight Council while on the city council, and with this experience she plans on addressing the homeless issue through actions such as transitional housing options.
What Beraud’s said she is focused on the most is changing the leadership style of the Board of Supervisors to one that is “more inclusive and welcoming to community input.” She compared this to her time on the Atascadero City Council, as one of her first actions then was establishing a public trust initiative to get diverse voices in the decision-making process.
“We’re not really running on policies, we’re running on the concept that people’s voices aren’t being heard in our community,” Beraud said. “They feel like their concerns are being ignored.”
Beraud said that a major issue that perpetuates this is the lack of discussion at the Board of Supervisors meetings.
In her experiences of giving public comments at these meetings, Beraud has not engaged in discussion with the supervisors and rarely do they discuss issues among each other. This is what she wants to change.
“When you have less divisiveness on the board, it invites more discussions on the issues,” Beraud said.
A new way Beraud plans on informing the public and giving them more opportunities to participate in local government is through community workshops. These would be opportunities for community members to come together to learn more about key issues in the community and offer solutions and ideas.
“I’m always looking for opportunities and ways we can move our county forward,” Beraud said.
Recap of views on main issues
– Homelessness: Beraud’s idea for addressing homelessness is through transitional housing options and mental health and addiction services. Arnold is advocating for another homeless shelter in the northern parts of the county as well as partnering with law enforcement to ensure safety for the community.
– Environment: Arnold’s focus for the environment is protecting the county’s land and rural lifestyle. Beraud is addressing the environment through policies for sustainable groundwater management as well as climate action policies.
To vote for a candidate in your district, go to the polls March 3.