The recent forum for Mayor and City Council candidates highlighted significant differences between those seeking leadership of Morro Bay’s municipal government.

The most critical and expensive issue facing voters is completion of the Morro Bay Water Reclamation Facility (WRF), which is currently under construction and faces a state mandated deadline of February 2023. Candidates Headding (Mayor), Davis and Barton (City Council) all favor timely completion of the project. Candidates Weiss (Mayor), Winholtz and Sadowski (City Council) favor pausing the project. If Weiss, Winholtz and Sadowski are elected and succeed in stopping the WRF project, voters should expect the city to devolve into the same civic dysfunction that resulted in the bankruptcy and dissolution of the Los Osos Community Services District. 

Ms. Winholtz also indicated she’s fine with writing off $20 to $40 million dollars in ratepayer money to move the WRF to a different location. Pausing the project and moving the WRF will waste a huge amount already expended, cost ratepayers the low interest financing already approved, leading to higher sewer rates, costly lawsuits and state fines.  

Another significant difference is how to resolve city finances and maintain services. Candidates Headding, Davis and Barton support Measure E-20 on the November ballot, increasing local sales tax by one percent to provide additional funding for police, fire and other taxpayer supported services. Candidates Weiss, Winholtz and Sadowski oppose Measure E-20 and favor finding ways to cut an already emaciated budget and staffing. Morro Bay has a revenue problem not a spending problem. Revenues have been relatively flat and the cost of services will continue to increase causing long-term service deficits even as the city balances its budget each year. More revenue is needed if residents want to maintain the independent local services they have come to expect like police, fire, street maintenance and recreation. Besides, a large portion of local sales tax is paid by visitors, not residents. Weiss, Winholtz and Sadowski demonstrate a lack of understanding or unwillingness to recognize the cause of the city’s budget woes and support realistic solutions. 

Morro Bay needs competent and experienced civic leadership that balances the concerns of both our businesses districts and neighborhoods during this incredibly challenging time. We don’t need leaders who only prioritize local business interests and their own pet grievances.  

On November 3rd, vote John Headding for Mayor, and Robert “Red” Davis and Laurel Barton for City Council to get the leadership our community needs and deserves. Vote YES on Measure E-20 to fund our local services.

David Betonte
Morro Bay