Jan Marx, a San Luis Obispo City Council member for the past six years, led the race against Paul Brown, a former city council member and former owner of Mother’s Tavern downtown, with 205 votes. The other mayoral candidates, Cal Poly student Andrew Farrell and local artisan Donald Hedrick, “trailed far behind in the polls,” according to The Tribune.
Marx said the wait for the votes to be counted was nerve-wracking.
“I was cautiously optimistic throughout the whole thing,” Marx said. “It’s wonderful to have the election over.”
Yet, Marx said she held a lead when the votes were first counted, but the county clerk Julie Rodewald did not want to announce a definitive winner until all the votes were counted. Marx said she was grateful to the voters of San Luis Obispo.
Bruce Gibson, District 2 supervisor and a Marx supporter, said the close race was expected because of Brown’s record of service and name recognition. However, he said he looked forward to working with Marx because she would “make a great mayor.”
“She works hard to listen to all sides of an issue and has a very open and personable working style,” Gibson said.
Marx said she plans to be available for her constituents and will do her best to meet their wishes. She also said she wants to hear from the students and work to fit their needs. To do so, she plans to set up an office on campus to get more input from students as well as the prospective new president.
“I am looking forward to meeting the new president and hopefully open a good communication with the city and the school,” Marx said.
Marx said she also would be focusing on budget issues, making neighborhoods in San Luis Obispo, managing bike trails and open spaces as well as setting up an incubation facility to create green jobs for students hoping to stay in the area.
Andrew Carter, a city council member, endorsed Paul Brown because of a “friendship factor”. He said Brown was tougher on fiscal responsibility, which was a key issue. However, Carter said he thought Marx would win.
“The race was closer than I thought it would be,” Carter said. “I thought Jan was going to win, but much more handily. My gut feeling was wrong.”
Carter said Farrell, though trailing in the polls, played a part in Brown’s loss as third candidates have “many, many times before.”
“Farrell went up 9.2 percent, and Paul went down 8.7 percent,” Carter said. “Andrew was taking votes from Paul. It shows the impact of student voting and student running.”
Allen Settle, a former San Luis Obispo mayor, current city council member and pre-law adviser at Cal Poly, said Farrell’s candidacy was a “spoiler.”
“The issue with him when you have that occur, you pull from both candidates,” Settle said. “It’s really hard to say who he pulled most votes for.”
Settle said he thought it was unusual Farrell did not come to speak to him for advice because of his association with Cal Poly. However, Settle said Farrell did have many students voting for him.
Marx also said Farrell made a difference.
“My hat is off to Andrew Farrell for running,” Marx said. “He got 11 percent of the vote, which is significant.”
Farrell’s votes aside, Carter said because of Marx’s six years of experience on city council, she would be a good mayor, though Carter said she was more liberal than him on most issues.
“We now move forward to governing, which is the hardest part,” Carter said.
The focus is now on how Marx served only two years of her four year term, so her seat will have to be filled. Marx and the city council members will either appoint a new member or hold a special election.
Settle said filling the vacancy poses a challenge and is very important. He said it does not matter “who’s mayor and who’s (in) city council, it matters how they work together.”
“My speculation would be that Jan would want to do an appointment,” Settle said. “To do a special election would not be wise.”
Settle said a special election would both be costly and take too much time. However, if the council member is appointed, an application process would start on Dec. 1 — the day Marx is sworn in.
Settle said the applicants then come with their applications and make a presentation. The council will vote and the victor could start making decisions as early as Dec. 7.
If it is a special election, Settle said it may go into spring or summer before a new council member is certified.
Beyond her decision to fill the council spot, Marx said she is excited for the opportunity to serve San Luis Obispo.
“I’m really looking forward to being mayor to everybody, not just the people who voted for me, and I want to improve the community and see if we can get the students interested in some of the planning that is going on,” Marx said. “I’m hoping it will be a positive experience for everyone.”