Ryan Chartrand

The four candidates running for the office of mayor of San Luis Obispo spoke yesterday in Chumash Auditorium as part of the CP Next: Generation Vote campaign.

Candidates spoke about their positions on city issues and answered questions from students pertaining to how their campaign would benefit that segment of the population.

Incumbent Dave Romero highlighted his previous accomplishments dating back to the 1950s and 1960s, when he participated in the widening of the California Boulevard, Grand Avenue and Foothill Boulevard areas. At the time, Foothill Boulevard consisted of only two lanes, Romero said.

Romero also touched on how his involvement in the City Planning Commission benefited Cal Poly, specifically how he worked with the university to expand sewer systems, among other things. He also was a lecturer at Cal Poly for almost 30 years beginning in 1967.

Current City Council member Christine Mulholland said she has “always been the slow-growth, quality of life candidate,” and cited her involvement in the development of 400 housing units over the last few years as proof. She stressed adhesion to the city’s “general plan,” providing a “sustainable community that.(lives) within its resources,” and commended Cal Poly for striving to achieve this goal. She also was the only candidate who referred to the controversial Dalidio Ranch Marketplace initiative, firmly stating, “new development pays its own way.”

John Ewan, a business owner and City Council member, related to students very well, especially when he noted that when he was at Cal Poly, the residence halls were segregated. He highlighted the fact that he was involved in joining the male and female population of the university together to create co-ed residence halls.

In the past, Ewan protested the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, calling it “not a safe way” to provide power. In the 1990s, he became more involved with government, and specifically promoted the cleaning of wood-burning fireplaces as a way to provide cleaner air for the community.

Ewan emphasized the importance of finding a “viable, contemporary solution” to the city’s issues.

Artisan welder Donald Hedrick focused on his commitment to the community throughout the discussion, most notably when he served as the parking lot regulator for the local Graduate nightclub. He observed that “it was a quite mellower location to have a business in” after his first year on the neighborhood watch in that area.

As part of the discussion, audience members were invited to ask the candidates questions. When asked what candidates had planned to improve the community’s interaction with the students, each candidate reiterated parts of his or her previously stated position.

Ewan emphasized that “the community needs to recognize what the students do for the community,” and that “too often, they are heard of as a problem,” and the positive contributions to their community are overlooked. “The creativity at Cal Poly is incredible,” he said, calling the cancellation of Mardi Gras celebrations last year “unfortunate.”

He called for more communication between students and the City Council, specifically calling on students to voice their opinions. He suggested that an Associated Students Inc. member come to council meetings, but also conceded that the council was not meeting students’ needs, and vowed to fix that problem.

Hedrick reminded the audience of his longstanding interaction with students who had come to him with ideas for welding projects, and how he worked with them to improve the projects.

Mulholland agreed with Ewan and said that she would work for “better media representation” for the students so that the community as a whole would be more aware of their “positive value.”

She also said that she enjoyed being “invited frequently to share (her) thoughts with students” because of her “blunt-spoken” nature.

Civil engineering junior Sean Christy found the discussion very informative. “I didn’t really know who was running for mayor (other than the incumbent). It was good to get to know (the candidates),” he said.

He was glad that the “important issues had gotten out” in the open so that students would be more politically educated when they go to vote next Tuesday, Nov. 7.

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