A San Luis Obispo bed and breakfast owner, John Conner, will challenge Jan Marx for the mayoral seat this November.
Conner, owner of Petit Soleil bed and breakfast in SLO, recently pulled his paperwork to run for office. In a phone interview with New Times, Conner said he’d considered running for City Council after Eric Meyer, whom he supports, dropped out. But on the advice of friends and business associates, Conner said he decided to skip the council and make a run for the top seat.
He said he would be a “very different mayor” than Marx, who’s also pulled papers to run for another term. Asked how he differs from the incumbent, Conner said he’d like to focus on leadership, adding, “There’s a strong need to pull together our council and try to work out our differences.”
As the council membership stands, votes sometimes fall on a 3-2 split, in which Marx and Councilmembers Carlyn Christianson and John Ashbaugh form a majority over Councilmembers Kathy Smith and Dan Carpenter. If elected, Conner said he wants to steer that majority to a 4-1 or, ideally, a 5-0, noting that Carpenter “means well and has a great heart … his concerns and mine are a little different.”
Conner said that from his perspective, there’s been a breakdown between elected officials and staff, and he wants to enforce a structure in which city councilmembers give direction to the city manager, who will pass along that direction to city staffers.
“From the outside looking in, it doesn’t look like it’s gelling very well,” he told New Times.
Before Petit Soleil, Conner worked as general manager of the Embassy Suites hotel. This would be Conner’s first elected office. He’s previously served on the city’s Promotional Coordinating Committee and is currently a member of the Tourism Business Improvement District.
The filing period for a SLO elected office begins July 14 and ends Aug. 8. Smith announced that she wouldn’t seek another term, while Christianson will go up against challengers Daniel Cano, Gordon Mullin, and Daniel Rivoire for the two available seats.