Starting May 7, San Luis Obispo County voters will begin receiving vote-by-mail ballots in their mailbox for the June 5 primary election. According to the county’s elections office, about seventy percent of all eligible voters don’t wait to go to the polls on June 5 - they vote via a mailed-in ballot.
On the ballot this year is just one question for all San Luis Obispo County voters, about a cannabis tax, and whether they approve a general business license tax of four percent of gross receipts. Over the coming years, that tax would increase incrementally until it’s 10 percent of gross receipts. County staff and officials say they need that money to cover new costs associated with a legalized cannabis industry, like code enforcement, law enforcement, policy development, health impacts and education. The tax only applies to businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county. Individual cities have their own tax, like Grover Beach.
Recently the Grover Beach city council voted to reduce cannabis taxes approved by voters last November, aiming to encourage the cannabis industry and not levy taxes so onerous it doesn’t pencil out financially for retailers, distributors and cultivators to go into business.
Cambria voters will see another question on the ballot, a special tax to fund firefighter positions via the Cambria Community Services District. Those in favor of the tax say it’s necessary to pay for three full-time firefighters to respond to all sorts of emergencies, not just fires. Those against say the tax isn’t necessary, because CalFire automatically responds to fires in Cambria, and the new tax would only pay for the firefighters’ salaries, not clearing away dead trees that could contribute to a major fire.
The remainder of the June 5 ballot concerns people running for office. About half of the races are uncontested; voters will only have one box to check those races. But the other half are being robustly contested, like in the races for county sheriff, county supervisor, district attorney and superior court judge.
Central Coast congressman Salud Carbajal’s seat is up for election this year, with Justin Donald Fareed and Michael Erin Woody challenging. Both Fareed and Woody are running as Republicans. The top two vote getters will advance to the November general election.
A seat in the state assembly, representing the 35th district, is up for reelection. Incumbent Republican Jordan Cunningham is being challenged by Democrat Bill Ostrander.
In San Luis Obispo County, there are seven open seats for superior court judge. Two of those races are contested. Commissioner Tim Covello is vying Attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu for one seat. Incumbent judge Hernaldo Baltodano and Deputy District Attorney Andy Cardena for another.
District 2 supervisor Bruce Gibson is being challenged for his seat by two men, Jeff Eckles and Patrick Sparks. If one of those candidates receive 50 percent plus one of the vote, it stops there. If one doesn’t reach that threshold, the top two vote getters will advance to the November general election.
District 4 Supervisor Lynn Compton is being challenged by Jimmy Paulding. A candidate forum is planned for May 7 when both candidates will lay out their visions and answer questions. It takes place at the Nipomo High School.
The county’s assessor, a four-year term, is up for reelection. Tom Bordonaro is being challenged by David Boyer.
And finally, it’s possible San Luis Obispo County could have a new district attorney and sheriff come June. Investigator Greg Clayton is challenging current sheriff Ian Parkinson. And Judge Mike Cummins is vying to get more votes than current district attorney Dan Dow.
Tune in later this month to hear about key races on the Santa Barbara and Monterey County ballots.