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Supes pick Howell but spurn Peterson 

After a snippy nomination hearing during the Jan. 14 meeting of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, SLO County has officially locked in two nominees for an open seat on the powerful California Coastal Commission: Grover Beach Mayor Debbie Peterson and Pismo Beach City Councilman Erik Howell.

Peterson previously earned her nomination on Jan. 3 as the pick of the county’s City Selection Committee (CSC), a group of mayors from all of the county’s cities. Peterson was the sole nominee from that meeting, despite the vocal objection of SLO City Mayor Jan Marx.

At the Jan. 14 meeting, a motion to nominate Howell for the Coastal Commission seat—which must be filled by an elected official from SLO, Santa Barbara, or Ventura County—passed unanimously.

Supervisor Debbie Arnold also brought a motion to nominate Peterson, but that motion failed 3-2—only attracting votes from Arnold and Supervisor Frank Mecham.

Supervisor Adam Hill said he “couldn’t agree with submitting Ms. Peterson’s name,” and Supervisor Bruce Gibson said that his “preference of the two would be Mr. Howell.”

Supervisor Caren Ray said it was an issue of equality for her. Nominating Peterson from both the CSC and the board would give her an unfair advantage over Howell, Ray said.

Arnold attempted to convince Hill, Gibson, and Ray that they should nominate Peterson, to no avail. None of the supervisors was interested in self-nominating for the commission seat, with Supervisor Frank Mecham saying he would “rather take a pencil in the eye.”

After receiving complete lists from the three counties, Gov. Jerry Brown will officially appoint a replacement for Ventura City Councilman Brian Brennan, who’s held the seat since April 2011, but chose this year not to run again for City Council. The soon-to-be vacant seat is open only to an elected official.

The governor’s office has set a deadline of Jan. 22 for receiving nominees. If Brown doesn’t make an appointment within 30 days of Jan. 22, he must call for a new round of nominees.

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