The SLO County Board of Supervisors will resume its post-election business with one newcomer and one familiar face.
Third District Supervisor Adam Hill retained his seat on the board while longtime political strategist John Peschong won an open seat for SLO County’s 1st District, according to preliminary voting totals.
Hill was re-elected after a particularly ugly battle against his challenger, SLO City Councilmember Dan Carpenter. The race was contentious from the beginning, with Carpenter repeatedly calling Hill’s character and temperament into question and Hill questioning Carpenter’s claims that he was an independent-minded politician. Hill also criticized Carpenter’s alleged associations with the incumbent’s political enemies and a campaign of personal attacks against him online, which Hill has referred to as “empire of hate.”
It appears that the mudslinging did little to stop Hill’s re-election. Preliminary vote totals showed he beat Carpenter, garnering 57.43 percent of the total vote.
Speaking to New Times, Hill said he expected the campaign to be acrimonious and personal. He believes voters are tired of politics, and therefore not as susceptible to the negative campaign tactics that have become a common staple of elections.
“I don’t think it really gets to anybody anymore,” he said.
Carpenter did not return requests for comment from New Times.
In North County, Peschong successfully wielded his more than $260,000 in campaign donations to defeat Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin and take the vacant supervisor seat left by Frank Mecham. Peschong’s message of boosting public safety and lowering taxes resonated with 1st District voters. He garnered 55 percent of the vote.
“I’m very pleased,” Peschong told New Times. “We got our message out and communicated with a lot of people.”
The newest member to the Board of Supervisors said he’s anxious to get to work on fighting gangs and influencing the county’s spending priorities.
“I’m most excited about making sure the Gang Task Force the Sheriff runs is fully funded and everybody’s participating in it,” Peschong said. “Stopping some of the tax increases and fee increases that have hurt our families [is also a priority]. And we’re going to have to deal with roads pretty quickly.”
Peshong’s election heralds a slight shift in the board’s political makeup, creating the potential for the three-vote block of conservative-leaning supervisors with Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton, leaving Hill and fellow liberal-leaning Supervisor Bruce Gibson in the minority. However, in an interview with New Times in October, Hill said he believed that he would be able to work productively with Peschong, whom he characterized as an “old-fashioned Republican.”
“Ultimately, I’m much more interested in trying to get things done and find that common ground,” Hill said.