Opinion » Shredder

Time to shop



Mickey Mouse, Luke Skywalker, and Deputy Dog all had their chance to step into elected office in SLO County. So did Anyone but Dan Dow, Anyone but Ian Parkinson, and Xbox.


Hey! We're equal opportunity here in this county—if you couldn't tell by the clerk-recorder appointment process last year, the write-in candidates voters scribbled onto ballots in the 2022 primary election will open your eyes! We don't need no stinkin' qualifications to try to put you into an elected office you're unqualified to serve in.

Thank God voters have more sense than the politically perverse Board of Supervisors. The only qualified candidate in the clerk-recorder's race, appointed Clerk-Recorder Elaina Cano, has a comfortable lead over her election-integrity questioning challengers, Stew "15 percent" Jenkins and James "18 percent" Baugh.

Baugh's representative, who was observing election counting on June 14, told New Times that she had been interested in the ballot counting process "ever since the 2020 elections." Oh, was it the Big Lie that did it? Do I even need to ask? The funny thing is, she could have observed ballot counting in any election prior to or after that fatefully fraught fight full of fables and false claims. But she didn't. Because the way we count and process ballots hasn't really changed.

And if you can't figure out whether our elections are operated in a fair and honest capacity, you can join her in watching the ballot adjudication process happen right before your very eyes in the SLO County Elections Office. Each ballot was projected onto a screen for observers to watchdog during the June 14 counting process, and Mr. Mouse, Mr. Skywalker, and Mr. Dog all took a turn with their 15 seconds of fame on the big screen. You could see them work on ballots with unclear markings, no markings, or too many markings—just as they did prior to the 2020 election.

As the counts come in, the number of eligible voters who actually voted is starting to tick up to a less jaw-dropping level of apathy. Although initial counts showed only 22 percent of the county's voters actually voted, ensuing counts have brought that percentage up to almost 30 percent with more than 30,000 ballots left to count. But, still, if you didn't vote and you could have voted, shame on you!

And if you didn't vote and you live in the 2nd District, you might just learn exactly how much every vote counts and how important it is to vote in even a primary race of a non-presidential election year. The race is proving to be a long-term pucker-fest, as 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson is learning. In what might be the first race that's given him pause since he got elected—thanks to redistricting—he's waiting to find out whether he keeps the majority of votes (50 percent, plus one) as the slow ballot counting process crawls into a second week.

After June 10 ballot counting, he had a little more than 53 percent. And after June 14, he had a little more than 52 percent. And now, we wait to see if he has to go head-to-head with one of his Republican challengers in November. Bruce Jones (17.07 percent), Geoff Auslen (16.8), and The Colonel, John Whitworth (13.58) split up all of those red votes. I've been pounding popcorn since June 7 because it's a real nail-biter, folks.

Bruce is feigning more patience than I feel: "I'm not declaring victory by any stretch at this point. We are waiting patiently to get the final tally from the clerk," he said.

Meanwhile, Lynn Compton's silence speaks volumes about how she feels about her seemingly inevitable loss in the years-long fight to keep Jimmy Paulding away from her seat, including this crazy redistricting that's left a lot of people miffed and confused.

The Committee to Incorporate Los Osos is using the area's "orphaned" status as a spark to hopefully light a fire under residents to potentially become a full-fledged adult. Jon-Erik Storm, who's leading the effort, said he feels as if it's really a matter of democracy. Los Osos—like every other place in the county—only gets to vote for one representative at the county level.

Gibson currently represents Los Osos, but wouldn't come January 2023 (if he gets elected). In fact, come 2023, no one will officially represent Los Osos, Morro Bay, Oceano, and parts of San Luis Obispo. What are they to do?

Look on the bright side, according to 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold.

"Shop around for a supervisor," she said. "You can pick and choose. Call whoever you want."

Wow. Sounds great. Now, instead of having one supervisor who might have to get back to you about your issue because they represent the district you live in, you have five supervisors who really don't have to get back to you. Meanwhile, towns like Atascadero are now going to have two supervisors to reach out to!

Everybody can shop around! Even the supervisors.

And the county, for its part, is really leaning into this business of everyone in the county being represented by all five supervisors. If that's the case, what does redistricting even matter? Why even have districts?

Because it does matter who your representative is. It's why we have elections. Δ

The Shredder is interested in running for orphaned districts. Send campaign advice to shredder@newtimesslo.com.


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