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SLO County ponders the big split 

A woman leaned over her chair in the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors Chambers and whispered to a reporter, “We don’t want those liberals.”

If developments continue the way they’ve been going, she just might get a few liberals in her district—at least, they’ll be liberal in her eyes.

On Aug. 16, county supervisors moved forward with a tentative plan for redrawing the five supervisor district boundaries. County supervisors are nonpartisan positions, but there are clear political viewpoints among individual supervisors.

For a decision that’s supposed to be strictly nonpartisan, some locals have accused the county of sacrificing public concerns for mild political gains. In fact, the vote to move forward with one of several alternative new district configurations went through 3-2, with outwardly pro-business supervisors Frank Mecham and Paul Teixeira voting against the majority.

“I think that there is a political emphasis if you bring District 2 over,” Mecham said, looking frustrated throughout the board discussions.

Under the majority-approved plan, the district lines would trisect the unincorporated town of Templeton, bringing Supervisor Bruce Gibson’s District 2 within the Templeton boundaries along with Mecham’s District 1 and Supervisor Jim Patterson’s District 5.

The proposal hasn’t been met entirely with warmth in Templeton. Residents and members of various community advisory bodies asked repeatedly to “keep Templeton whole.”

“I see no need to actually split us into three without any justification,” said Robert Rosales, a Templeton resident and member of the Templeton Chamber of Commerce.

Mecham proposed a different configuration that would make his district larger than others in the county, but would better preserve Templeton’s boundaries, he said. He said his constituents preferred that plan.

The issue was continued to Sept. 6 for a second public hearing. The county must adopt new district boundaries by Nov. 1, under state guidelines. Once approved, the new boundaries will reflect the county’s population growth, which occurred primarily in Mecham’s district, over the last decade: 24,424 people.

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