Longtime Grover Beach politico John Shoals will be running for the city’s mayoral seat in the upcoming Nov. 4 general election.
Shoals debuted the news in a July 14 press release and made a formal announcement outside Grover Beach City Hall that afternoon.
“It’s not going to be an easy campaign,” said Shoals, addressing a crowd of about 25 supporters. “I want to finish the major projects that we’ve started here in Grover Beach.”
In the press release, Shoals touted endorsements from current Grover Beach City Council members Jeff Lee and Bill Nicolls, Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara, Pismo Beach Mayor Shelly Higginbotham, and county supervisors Adam Hill and Caren Ray.
“I’m an experienced leader, I’m someone who collaborates, and I have a passion for my community,” Shoals told New Times. “I still have a lot to offer.”
Shoals was first elected as a council member in 2002, but stepped down (due to term limits) in 2012 after 10 consecutive years of council service. Under Grover law, Shoals became re-eligible to serve as mayor after taking a term-length break.
Shoals served as Grover’s mayor for a total of six years: in 2004, 2007, and 2008-2012. He’s also been the senior governmental relations representative for Pacific Gas and Electric since 2009.
When asked whether lobbying for PG&E would bias his decisions if elected mayor, Shoals said he would recuse himself from all PG&E matters that might come before the council and would also cease working with Grover Beach in a PG&E capacity.
“I’m aboveboard about it, and I can keep the two separate,” he said.
Shoals’ competition for the mayoral seat will be the city’s current mayor, Debbie Peterson, who announced her candidacy on July 7. Both mayoral candidates have already pulled nomination papers.
Shoals and Peterson are both registered Democrats who lean toward the political center. When asked how he’d differentiate himself from Peterson, Shoals emphasized that he has a different style.
“I don’t want to speak ill of Debbie, but I seek to build trust and confidence with council members,” he said. “If you take a look at a decision that was made by the incumbent, I think you see why some of her council colleagues have come out and endorsed me.
“I’m just more of a collaborator, and I’m about bringing people together for a common cause,” he added.