SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- Three candidates are vying for the seat that will fill the two-year partial term as San Luis Obispo County District Three Supervisor.
On Election Day, voters in the district that includes 61 percent of San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, plus the communities of Edna Valley and Avila Beach, will chose between appointed incumbent Dawn Ortiz-Legg and challengers Stacy Korsgaden and Arnold Ruiz.
Ortiz-Legg was appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in November 2020 following the death of then-supervisor Adam Hill.
Korsgaden, who owns a Grover Beach insurance agency, ran against Hill two years ago and narrowly lost the election against the longtime supervisor.
Ruiz is a lifelong resident of San Luis Obispo and a retired barber, who also served in the National Guard.
News Channel recently met with both candidates and asked them the same set of questions about the upcoming election, which will be held on Tuesday, June 7.
The first question asked was why they felt they were the best candidate for the position.
"I believe I'm the best candidate because I have extensive experience in the role supervisors play here in the county, land use being one of them," said Ortiz-Legg. "I also feel that the visions that I have, and the work that I'm doing right now is very much aligned with the values of District Three. It's a wide range of things that we get to do as supervisors, but it really takes digging into the details and bringing people together. That is really the only way things get done. This is we job, and not an I job, and so you really want to have somebody that has the relationships, has the desire to see positive outcomes and results within a short term frame of time, and also, just making sure you're listening to all the people in District Three, which is what I've doing."
"I'm a small business owner and I've been listening to my community for years and recently the conversations have changed," said Korsgaden. "People feel over-taxed, over-regulated, and they're over it. They're sick and tired of it, and I'm running to be part of the solution."
"I'm not the best candidate," said Ruiz. "I care to tell people that we need to get our government back to the counties so that the supervisors can do their job. Right now they cannot do their job because they have to cater to the state and the state doesn't want them to do their job. They want their job. That's why, you know, they're, well, why am I running? Because of that injustice. It's not right and if we want to take care of our economy, we need the authority to do that."
The candidates were asked to explain their main campaign platforms, those key points they are especially targeting in their messaging to voters.
"Number one, when it comes to making the hard decisions, I can do that," said Korsgaden. "It's critical that we have people in office that know how to, number one, let people create jobs. Government does not create jobs, but people in our community do. In so many ways, we're over-regulated. We're over-taxed, and snd jobs and creating solutions for the homeless. I believe that San Luis Obispo can lead the state in solving that issue, and what I mean by leading is creating a situation where we call it what it is. This is an emergency. We have people sleeping that are sleeping in our streets, and I believe San Luis Obispo County can lead the way in triaging the people that are homeless into our local services in San Luis Obispo County."
"The supervisors do not have the authority because the state has taken that authority, usurped," said Ruiz. "The state has pulled a government coup on the counties. What do you call it? A legislative coup. We don't even really realize it. We are dead in the water and we need that authority. We're fighting over trifling things, where the state, all they have to do is pull a thing and we have the authority here. You transferred the authority here. You centralized your government. 58 counties are under our control, so shut up and sit down."
"My motto is 'Get a Legg Up,' and really what that is about is helping people, so whether it's the small businesses in our area, or the families, seniors, I'm interested in helping people get a leg up and find some assistance," said Ortiz-Legg. "These are some challenging times we have right now, so for me, the things that I see that are most important, and where I'm having impact and working on, is water security, housing and homelessness, and just general open space and quality of life issues, that means public safety as well."
Each of the candidates were then asked to list what they feel are the top issues currently challenging the county.
"Primary concerns are homelessness, crime, jobs and energy," said Korsgaden.
"Homelessness," said Ruiz. "Okay, we'll try and put homes in the state is building homes for people with the county's money, and sending, calling more people into the county. Forget it. We're ruining the county. Give the people what they need. They need food and shelter. They don't want to stay here. To them, it's just a vacation here, but they won't leave. Give them shelter and food and let them move on, or if you want to stay, what are you going to do for our community? Our community. That's what we should be worried about"
"I think the first one is water," said Ortiz-Legg. "That's critical We're now in a situation where we have to put all of our tools in the toolbox to work in order to make sure we have water security. That requires us to do regional collaboration. It requires consolidation of systems. It requires us to be able to do things we just haven't had the chance to do before, and now we're getting tools to do it, as well as people like me, they're making things happen in order to use water resiliency programs. The second thing, of course, is homelessness, and this really impacts the quality of life of those individuals that are unhoused, as well as the public spaces that we're all sharing with them, and I think at the county, as you know, perhaps you know, at the county, we just approved a strategic plan to address in much more aggressive way homelessness, trying to cut it in five years to 50 percent of what we have now. There's a lot of pieces to that. It's hard to talk about in one little session, but it's certainly something as the person that sits on the homeless oversight committee, that I'm really intent on seeing results, where we have housing for those individuals, and there's a wide variety of individuals who come to be unhoused. It's the single mom with the kids. It's the single dad with the kids. It's medically fragile seniors. It's unaccompanied adults, children actually, so 15-to-17, those that getting out of foster care, so there's a lot of places that we need to be looking at how we can best serve these special communities. There's the mental health issues of course as well. There's things we can do at the board and there's things we need to look at with our state partners and state representatives to help us with. The last thing I think is public safety and risk. We're in a drought, fires are critical for us to be prepared for that. We've got public safety issues. I'm very happy to say that I'm the candidate endorsed by Cal Fire, so my idea of preparation of any kind of emergency things is first and foremost in the minds of me and my office for my constituents, but also just to help us prepare for the climate challenges that we're facing."
Another question centered around if there are any issues that are specific to District Three they would like to address.
"Homelessness is really the thing that's impacting," said Ortiz-Legg. "We're having small fires. We're having vandalism. People want to see some results here, as far as cleaning out our creeks, making sure we are providing open spaces back to the public, and so, that's one big piece. District Three is also about water, and so the San Luis Valley Groundwater Basin is in my district, and we just finished submitting our groundwater sustainable plan, and that requires us to have some ways to supplement the aquifer in the San Luis Basin, and we're working right now with the City of San Luis, and some other private entities to be using recycled water to replenish that basin, so those are some ideas and thoughts about some of the things that are really impacting our area. We also have the ability to do some really fun stuff. We've cleaned up Cave Landing, things so people can get to the beach. We're going to be repaving that parking lot, and doing some safety measures out there, so it's all about how we can improve the life of the District Three resident."
"Originally, I got in the race because I was unhappy that they were considering the closure of the Oceano Dunes," said Korsgaden. "In the south county, it's a wonderful economic engine for jobs, for people coming in and out of the community, it's important for jobs, number one, but number two, it's also important for our local families."
"San Luis Obispo commercial property," said Ruiz. "We've got a lot of it vacant, and it needs to be, what the government wants to do, is put homeless people and solve their problem. Baloney. You're going to destroy what was once a really great little city commercially. We can get that re-established again, but we need get the right people in there. We need to call them in. I'm thinking maybe the garment industry would be good. Private tailors, like rich people, like myself. We can go to other countries and get a suit made, cheap and good because those people know what they're doing. They're educated in their craft. We need to get them over here and teach us how to do that and then call the tourists. We have the tourist trap of the world right here in California. Can't use it. Why? Tell me why? Our government. We're afraid of this. Shut that door. Keep those people out. It might be a problem. A bunch of baloney. We need those people to come in here. Pay our taxes. Get us off of the welfare. We need to start supporting our government, not draining it."
The redistricting of the county has been a controversial subject in the news over the past year. Last December, the current board voted 3-2 (with Ortiz-Legg and District Two Supervisor Bruce Gibson opposing) to draw new district lines, affecting each of the county's five seats.
The process draw criticism from many in the county, who claim it was done to favor the current conservative majority on the board. While the new lines were approved, it is being challenged in court and it still in litigation.
Each of the three candidates were asked how they feel about the recent decision to redistrict San Luis Obispo County into the current configuration.
"For the redistricting, for my personal area, I felt it was a positive because Grover Beach and Oceano will now, going forward in 2014, will be in the same district, and so it will be the coastal communities, Grover, Oceano, Pismo Beach Shell Beach, Avila Beach and Los Osos, so it my particular case, I felt it was favorable," said Korsgaden.
"It's politics," said Ruiz. "That's all it is, politics. Politicians on one side wants everything for himself. Other redistrict it, a different way. I don't know what's best. I would like to study it. I would really like to do that, study it and find out who's who in the zoo here."
"I think it's a great disservice that's been done to the citizens of this county," said Ortiz-Legg. "There's going to be a stark difference in how they're going to be represented in the coming years. It's causing a lot of confusion, even inside our building about all the commissions we have, and people who have been serving on advisory boards, and even on commission on the status of women and girls. What district do I belong to? How do we do this? People who have dedicated a lot of their life to our community are kind of being disrupted. I'm very disappointed in what's happened with the Patten map. I think it has created just a situation that just doesn't represent the citizens of this county or again their values well at all."
The final question asked each of the candidates to explain what a vote for them would mean to the district and the county as a whole.
"I don't know," said Ruiz. "I'll tell you're voting for a person that wants to make San Luis Obispo the city on the hill. That is, a city with people who know each other because they celebrate together and because they work together because they're here together. That's the Democrats. The Republicans. The Catholics. The Jews. Everybody who lives here should live here. Make their lives and their living right here."
"A vote for Dawn Ortiz-Legg is a vote for getting things done," said Ortiz-Legg. "I'm known as a workhorse. I am somebody who really looks to ask people, how can I help you? What is it that you need? How can I improve the process of when you're interfacing with the county, whether it's small business, families, agriculturists, first responders, all of those things are very important. We're all tied together, and so for me, nothing is more rewarding than knowing that I'm getting results, and I can't tell you how excited I am about having this position and continuing on in this seat for the next few years."
"Government accountability," said Korsgaden.
For the full interview with candidate Arnold Ruiz, play the YouTube video below.
For the full interview with candidate Dawn Ortiz-Legg, play the YouTube video below.
For the full interview with candidate Stacy Korsgaden, play the YouTube video below.