PISMO BEACH, Calif. -- The campaign for Pismo Beach mayor is a two-person race featuring two candidates with familiar names to city voters.
Incumbent and longtime city council member Ed Waage is seeking a third-term as mayor.
"I'm running for reelection because there's much more to do," said Waage. "When I first ran for office, the residents said we need to fix up the city, especially the downtown, and we've made a lot of progress."
Waage is facing off against Dan Shadwell, a longtime area news anchor, who is running for political office for the first-time ever.
"I want to make sure Pismo Beach feels like home again to everybody," said Shadwell, who now works in real estate. "I want to make sure people have an opportunity to share their ideas and their feelings and I want them to be considered everytime there's a decision made by city government."
Waage has served a total of eight years on the Pismo Beach City Council. He feels his track record as a councilman and mayor should earn him reelection.
"We have a brand new Shell Beach Streetscape," said Waage, while standing in the brand new Pier Plaza. "We've put a lot of money into the Pismo Preserve to provide recreation. We've been refurbished our parks. We have new playground equipment. We've been paving roads, but there's more to do."
Among his top priorities should he win is to build a new fire station on Bello Street.
"We desperately need a new fire station," said Waage. "The current station is woefully inadequate. With a new fire station, if you dial 911, the firefighters can get there about one minute quicker, and that could be the difference life and death."
He also wants to protect and increase the city's water resources.
"Now we have a program, Central Coast Blue to expand our water supply by recycling our existing water," said Waage. "This means we'll have a much better chance of weathering our next drought and protecting our groundwater supplies."
Although Shadwell has never held political office, he will well-known in Pismo Beach, and throughout the Central Coast.
He has been an news anchor for both KCOY NewsChannel 12, as well as KSBY. In addition, he has been a frequent on-air contributor on KVEC radio.
Shadwell feels his news career is a valuable asset as he seeks to unseat someone with much more political experience.
"My background in television news, as a journalist, but also as a small business owner, means that I understand," said Shadwell. "I can help move forward with communication that allows everybody to have an opportunity to communicate and to have a voice in the decisions that governments make."
The Shell Beach resident believes communication with residents is currently an issue with city government.
"A lot of the problems I see, have to do with a lack of communication," said Shadwell. "As I walk around Pismo Beach, what I hear from a lot of people is that they have no idea who the mayor is. It's important that we see real leadership from the current mayor, and that communication includes things like listening to people, talking to them about what sorts of needs they have, what concerns they have. "What I want to do is make sure that your voice is heard. I want to make sure your voice is included in decision making."
Waage points to his longlist of experience in local government as a key difference between himself and his opponent.
"Besides my service as mayor of this beautiful city, I also serve on several regional boards, including the SLO Council of Governments, which provides all the transportation funding to this area," said Waage. "I serve on the Regional Transit Authority I serve on the Air Pollution Control District. I serve on the Local Agency Formation Commission. I've been selected three times by the mayors of this county to serve on LAFCO. That experience, not just within the city, but regionally, makes me a much more effective voice in getting things done here in the city."
Both candidates are in agreement that parking and traffic is one of the biggest issues in the race.
"We need more parking downtown," said Waage. "We're making a lot of progress on a new parking structure. That new parking structure will alleviate the parking problem downtown. I've been a leading advocate to take over Highway 1 through Pismo Beach. This would give us more options in solving traffic congestion downtown that we can't do right now because it's owned by Caltrans."
Shadwell hopes to address parking and traffic issues by increasing public transportation.
"I would like to see shuttle service and trolley service with multiple pickup and drop places using outlying parking areas and if we can do that we can begin lower our pressure on our traffic, as well as lessen the amount of pressure on our parking," said Shadwell. "I would like to see the extension of our bicycle paths, so we connect to the Bob Jones Trail, San Luis Obispo, and then also, down to Grover Beach and Oceano, that will also help get more people out of their cars, it will help our economy and build a sustainable type of business for our economy and our tourism here."
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is also a major topic that both candidates are focusing on during the campaign.
"COVID hit our city hard like everywhere else," said Waage. "We have the lowest per capita COVID rate in South County, yet we're heavily impacted by tourism. We were the first city to enact a mask ordinance, and we also put signage everywhere to wear a mask and stay apart. We've told our businesses to set an example by telling people they need to wear a mask when they come into their business."
Shadwell counters that the current mask ordinance places an unfair burden on workers and businesses.
"Right now, we have an ordinance, but it basically puts the onus on waiters and waitresses to police wearing masks and social distancing," said Shadwell. "I think what we ought to be doing is having a general ordinance that requires everybody, outdoors and indoors to follow the rules, so we're not forcing waiters and waitresses to choose between pay, their tips, and good health."
As for the new fire station that Waage is supporting, Shadwell believes the city should add staffing.
"The mayor points to the expansion of the fire department building," said Shadwell. "On top of that, we need to have a third firefighter in Pismo Beach on a full time basis. Right now, we only have two people fulltime and that's not enough people to take care of the engine company in Pismo Beach, so we need to make sure we have personnel, not just the facility."
Shadwell also said he wants the city to be more responsive to businesses, especially during the ongoing pandemic.
"Several of the people that asked me to run for office are business owners," said Shadwell. "A lot of the restaurant owners, and the hotel owners, and small business owners, just feel like, when they were asking the city for help, it just took way too long. It took them weeks, and in some cases months, to get the help they needed, including outdoor dining for our restaurants."
Waage said the city has made working with the local business community a top priority.
"It's important to keep our businesses alive throughout all of this, so when we get past it, they'll still be around to help continue to serve our residents and visitors," said Waage. "A lot of them wanted to open up downtown and we took a look at it and once we determined we can open up safely downtown, we allowed them to open, and since then, they've been doing very well. Same thing on Shell Beach Road. I understand from feedback things are doing very well."
As the campaign enters the final stages, both candidates are continuing to get their message out to voters by expressing why they feel they are the right person for the position.
"I've always had this vision for Pismo Beach, which guides my decision making, and that is to make the city liveable, healthy and safe, and I've worked on all of those three throughout my career in Pismo Beach. I will continue to make the city, liveable, healthy and safe," said Waage.
"I want to make sure we address some of the issues we've been kicking down the road for a long, long time," said Shadwell. "I want to make sure people have an opportunity to share their ideas and their feelings and I want them to be considered everytime there's a decision made by city government."
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3.
The winner will serve a two-year term.