John Peschong, a political strategist and San Luis Obispo County's 1st District Supervisor, is known for his brevity in public.
True to form, Peschong stayed mostly mum about his role in defeating Measure G, the 2018 ballot initiative to ban new oil wells and fracking in SLO County. Peschong's consulting firm, Meridian Pacific Inc., was hired to help run the oil and gas industry's campaign against the measure.
- File Photo By Jayson Mellom
- IN THE FIGHT San Luis Obispo County 1st District Supervisor John Peschong is a founding partner of Meridian Pacific, Inc., a political consulting firm that received over $643,000 from the oil industry to run its campaign against Measure G in SLO County.
Measure G failed, losing in a 54 percent to 46 percent vote, but not before a coalition of oil companies spent $8 million to sway voters' minds. Meridian received more than $643,000 to coordinate that campaign, according to the "No on G" group's latest campaign finance filings, which span January 2018 to December 2018.
As a county supervisor, Peschong has recused himself from decisions on projects or policies related to the oil and gas industry. Peschong told New Times on Jan. 9 that he accepted the job in part because he strongly opposed the measure.
Peschong said he saw Measure G as a "jobs issue," believing that the measure, if passed, would've shut down Sentinel Peak Resources' Arroyo Grande oil field and eliminated 30 head of household jobs for "good people." Similar to the statements made in the numerous mailers that hit residents' mailboxes in 2018, Peschong said that the measure "went too far."
On its face, Measure G banned the drilling of new oil wells—it did not shut down existing wells—but both sides debated what the practical effect on the local oil field would be over time.
Meridian Pacific also played key consulting roles in the opposition to Measure Z in Monterey County and Measure P in Santa Barbara County—two similar anti-oil drilling and fracking measures. Peschong said oil and gas industry campaigns are in his "wheelhouse," and added that he thought it was the only SLO County-based election issue that the company, which he co-founded in 2003, would be involved in while he's a sitting supervisor.
Before he was elected in 2016, Peschong ran the political campaigns of SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow, and county supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton. He said state conflict of interest rules prevent him from working on campaigns for political offices whose budgets he approves as a supervisor (such as the DA's Office). Meridian Pacific still does consulting work for state Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham. Δ