In the poorest town in South County, supervisor candidates debate roads and homelessness
The poorest community in the South County took center stage at Thursday night’s supervisor candidate forum, where incumbent Lynn Compton touted her record and newcomer Jimmy Paulding promoted his vision for creating a better Oceano.
The two are competing in the June 5 election to represent District 4 on the county Board of Supervisors. They answered a series of audience questions asked by the League of Women Voters at the Oceano Community Services District, which was overfilled with local residents.
The unincorporated community of Oceano is home to about 8,000 people, with a median household income of $52,000 and the highest poverty rate in the county at 21 percent, according to census data. Areas of the town deal with frequent flooding, and residents take issue with a lack of sidewalks.
“The basic needs of Oceano have been not prioritized,” said Paulding, a 32-year-old planner and project manager who said he grew up down the street, in Arroyo Grande. “Oceano has suffered from a lack of representation, and we need an advocate. And I really want to be that advocate.”
Lynn Compton, who is running for a second term, said she’s running for office on her record.
“There’s a very big difference, as you see tonight, between Jimmy and his lack of experience and me. The county does not need a project manager as a supervisor. We have a full public works department that competently does that job,” Compton said.
Compton, 55, is one of three conservative board members who often vote as a block.
“Do you want a supervisor who will get things done that are important to you, or do you want someone who will swing the vote the other way?” Compton said.
On the economy
“I want to see an Oceano that isn’t a diamond in the rough. I want to see an Oceano that has walkable, bikeable paths, restaurants, wineries, breweries, connections to the beach, a boardwalk, perhaps all the way from Oceano to Pismo. This could be a destination on the map,” Paulding said.
He pointed to plan to revitalize Oceano that was created in 2013 and listed potential grant funding sources that are no cost to the taxpayer.
“That’s something I’m going to do on day one, once in office,” Paulding said, “use my experience in grant funding, ensuring that the Planning Department and Public Works Department has what they need to pursue the funds so we can actually improve our community.”