One contender is in and another is out in the four-man race to fill the open seat representing San Luis Obispo County’s 1st district.
John Peschong, a Templeton resident and longtime political strategist, recently announced that he’ll enter the race. Peschong told New Times he is running in order to preserve the quality of life and values that he feels he shares with many voters in the district.
“I moved to SLO County because I know the quality of life here is unmatched, I value this community, and I love the way of life,” Peschong said.
The first district includes Paso Robles, San Miguel, Shandon, part of Templeton, and the surrounding rural areas. Current Supervisor Frank Mecham announced in March that he isn’t seeking re-election after the conclusion of his second four-year term at the end of this year.
Of the five seats on the board, three are up for election in 2016. Recently, the board hasn’t had a clear majority vote, as Mecham has become a swing vote in the last two years, especially on issues surrounding the Paso Robles groundwater basin.
Peschong is joining three other candidates vying for the seat: attorney Dale Guston, Paso Robles City Councilmember John Hamon, and Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin.
Anthony Kalvans, a San Miguel Community Services District director, recently withdrew from the race, citing family issues that he said will be requiring a lot of time during the peak of campaign season. Kalvans told New Times that he’ll endorse Peschong.
Martin is the only registered Democrat in the race. All the other candidates are registered Republicans. While the seat and the election are officially non-partisan, the district heavily favors conservative candidates.
Peschong said that he considered running for the position after receiving a lot of encouragement from local leaders, which came about, in part, because of his political values.
“What I believe in is smaller, more efficient government, lower taxes, and more personal freedom,” he said.
So far, SLO County supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton, District Attorney Dan Dow, and Assessor Tom Bordonaro have all endorsed him. He ran all of their election campaigns.
Peschong is a well-known political consultant, and was a weekly columnist for The Tribune until Nov. 29, when he wrote his last commentary.
He is one of three founding partners at Meridian Pacific Inc., a strategic political consulting and public affairs firm.
Peschong has worked on several high profile local campaigns for conservative candidates, public affairs campaigns for the controversial approval of a Walmart store in Atascadero and the No on Measure P campaign in Santa Barbara County to defeat a proposed ban on hydraulic fracturing, and gubernatorial campaigns in Hawaii and Nebraska. He was also a senior strategist for the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain.
Peschong served in President Ronald Reagan’s administration, was the executive director of the California Republic Party, and has been the chairman of the SLO County Republican Party since 2010. He said he’ll resign from that seat in order to run his campaign.
While Peschong has been heavily involved in campaigns both in and outside the county, he said his decision to run is focused on his connection with the district and his eagerness to represent it.
“I think I have a skill set to be able to do the job well, to represent the district well, and to communicate the vision that the voters want me to be supportive of,” he said.
-- Melody DeMeritt - former city council member, Morro Bay