Opinion » Letters

We want better representation

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In 2023, the county revised the Advisory Council Handbook to promote consistency for all advisory council boards and procedures and set the expectation that all community councils would move toward elected membership. Accordingly, Oceano's county supervisor, Jimmy Paulding, asked VACO to transition to an elected council by the end of March 2024. To make the transition, last month VACO drafted bylaws that fail miserably in equitable representation of the Oceano community. Instead, it re-proposes entrenched members and business representation, despite the fact that Oceano is primarily a small residential community.

VACO plans to establish an election committee run by a VACO member, an ex-VACO member, and an out-of-town person with not even one lay person from Oceano.

We believe the election committee should be completely independent from VACO and staffed with Oceano residents.

VACO plans to elect only five members out of nine. The rest would be appointed by various chambers of commerce and organizations that have no right to represent Oceano. Members would not have a residency requirement.

We believe all members of a community advisory council should be residents of that community.

VACO plans to elect the first three members of the new council in July 2025. The other two would be elected in July 2027.

We believe an independent election committee should be established immediately and elections held as soon as possible.

Finally, here is VACO's bylaws' most appalling, discriminant, and undemocratic Article IV 2:

"Persons previously rejected or removed from membership in a community advisory council (CAC) or who served on a CAC that was unrecognized in San Luis Obispo County by the county Board of Supervisors shall not be eligible for election in the VACO."

We believe it is unconstitutional to ban anybody from running for a public office unless convicted of a felony. This ban blatantly targets former members of the original Oceano advisory council (before VACO) which was unrecognized and disbanded by former 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton.

Finally, we believe that if VACO doesn't immediately comply with the county's guidelines to hold fair and unbiased elections free of partisan influence and discriminatory policies, then VACO should be "unrecognized" by the Board of Supervisors.

Our district's supervisor should then appoint an independent election committee to oversee elections for Oceano. The new council's board will then draft its own new bylaws.

Bonita Ernst, Allene Villa, and Lucia Casalinuovo

Oceano Beach Community Association

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