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Supervisor Hill denied board chairmanship again, slammed for 'outrageous' behavior 

One after the other, 32 local residents in a crowded SLO County government building on Jan. 9 stepped to the microphone to deliver the same pointed message to 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill and the Board of Supervisors: Hill, the vice chair, was not fit to serve as chair of the board in 2018, while 1st District Supervisor John Peschong deserved a second year in the seat.

During the supervisors’ annual reorganization of board positions, public commenters engaged in an hour-long evisceration of Hill’s character and behavior as an elected official while demanding he be barred from the chair seat. Called a “bully,” “disrespectful,” and “an embarrassment” to the county, Hill was repeatedly slammed for conduct as specific as sending disparaging emails to community members with county resources and as broad as embodying the “progressive left ideology.”

“Anyone who disagrees with him is disrespected and called names,” Terri Stricklin of Nipomo said. “There are consequences to that kind of bad, outrageous behavior, and this is one of them.”

click to enlarge NO CHAIR FOR YOU For the second straight year, SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill (left) was denied the board chairmanship by his colleagues on Jan. 9 while Supervisor John Peschong (right) was awarded the seat. - PHOTO BY PETER JOHNSON
  • PHOTO BY PETER JOHNSON
  • NO CHAIR FOR YOU For the second straight year, SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill (left) was denied the board chairmanship by his colleagues on Jan. 9 while Supervisor John Peschong (right) was awarded the seat.

Commenters added that Hill failed to exhibit traits fitting for the board chair, who’s responsible for running meetings and serving as the top representative for the county.

“We need a chair whose character demonstrates his respect for the position we elected him to,” resident Elsa Dawson said.

The supervisors then voted 3-2, with Hill and 2nd District Supervisor Bruce Gibson dissenting, to re-elect Peschong as the board chair and move 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold to the vice chair seat.

It’s the second year in a row Hill was passed over for the board chairmanship, which of late has turned into a contentious political matter rather than a dependable rotation. Several of the meeting’s speakers were supporters of and donors to Peschong’s campaign, with one man holding his 2016 campaign sign in the front row of the chambers. Peschong later asked him to remove it.

Many of those who expressed support for Peschong as chair noted that his “respectful” temperament leading county meetings would be important for the civility going forward on the bitterly divided board.

“This board is very polarized, there’s no secret about that and the civil discourse here has been severely limited because of that,” said 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton. “It’s important to me that whoever we choose today sets the tone ... in order to encourage that civil discourse.”

When asked by New Times if the public admonition caused him to reconsider his decorum at all, Hill said he was a “passionate person” who can “be in your face at times” but chalked up the tongue-lashing to mere politics.

“It’s hard to take it to heart when it’s this orchestrated effort by people who don’t know me but have been made to hate me,” Hill said. “When people specifically say something to me that I’ve done anything to hurt their feelings, of course I would apologize and feel bad about it. But that was just political theater.”


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