Newspaper editorials

Put Jan Marx in the SLO mayor’s seat one last time

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By The Tribune Editorial Board

Mayor Jan Marx is seeking a fourth and final term as the top elected official in San Luis Obispo. (Under the city’s term limits, mayors can serve no more than four consecutive terms.) Based on her experience, leadership skills and record of accomplishments, we support her bid for re-election.

…Particularly over the past two years, she’s been especially strong in advocating on behalf of the long-term health, safety and economic welfare of San Luis Obispo.

Of all locally elected officials, she’s been the most vocal in raising concerns about the proposed rail spur at the Phillips 66 refinery on Nipomo Mesa, which would accommodate shipments of crude oil by rail.

She wrote a letter to San Luis Obispo County officials early on; authored a Tribune Viewpoint opposing the project; and was among the officials speaking against the project before the county Planning Commission: “Whether it’s five or three trains, our city would be placed at unique risk (by) this project.”

She’s been strong, too, on pushing for the city’s inclusion in negotiations regarding Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant’s closure plan.

“The city and school district were left out,” she told The Tribune Editorial Board. “We don’t have a place at the table.”

That’s changing: San Luis Obispo is among the cities that filed a protest of PG&E’s closure plan with the state Public Utilities Commission.

Marx’s current term hasn’t been without controversy; the rental inspection ordinance tops that list. The mayor initially supported the inspection program — as did we — but in the wake of concerns about unintended consequences, she believes it should be re-evaluated. That makes sense. It’s also in keeping with Marx’s style of governance: She holds strong opinions, but she has empathy, compassion and the ability to consider multiple points of view and adjust her position when necessary.

Jan Marx has years of experience and leadership skills, and we’ve been especially impressed with her focus on the long-term safety and economic welfare of the city. We also tip our hat to Heidi Harmon, and we hope she stays involved in local politics.

Another thing we like: Marx honors her commitments, as typified by a recent 3-2 vote to allocate $900,000 toward creation of a park in the north Broad Street neighborhood.

“Let’s do what we said we’d do,” Marx said in voting with the majority.

One minor nit: Marx has been known to go overboard in trying to legislate proper behavior. Following the 2015 collapse of a garage roof during a St. Fratty’s Day party, for example, she wanted a new ordinance that would prohibit residents from climbing up on their roofs for anything except repairs and maintenance.

As we said at the time, the city can’t pass an ordinance every time there’s a lapse of sensible behavior. Tighten up enforcement of ordinances already on the books, rather than adding more laws.

Our advice to the mayor: Lighten up just a little, and continue to keep your eye on the big picture.

The Tribune strongly endorses Jan Marx for mayor of San Luis Obispo.