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Election 2020: Pismo Beach voters deciding next mayor, bed tax

Courtesy of the Waage/Shadwell campaigns
Incumbent Ed Waage (l) is being challenged by political newcomer Dan Shadwell (r).

Like in several Central Coast cities this election, Pismo Beach residents are deciding on the next mayor, two or more city council seats and a tax measure.

As for the mayoral race, there are two candidates on the ballot: incumbent Ed Waage and challenger Dan Shadwell.

Waage is seeking his third term as mayor having been first elected in 2016. In Pismo Beach, the mayor’s term is only two years. Prior to becoming mayor, Waage served for eight years on the city council.

“I’m very collaborative and collegial on the council, we welcome public comments and diverse opinions and it’s my job as mayor to see where there’s agreement on moving forward on an issue and guide the council toward a decision,” said Waage.

He said he’s made significant progress fixing up the city and has a record of getting things done, like the new pier plaza.

“One of the major efforts was to fix up the downtown and we’ve done that, and also almost completed the Shell Beach streetscape which provides a safe route to schools and underground utilities,” he said.

Waage said he’s seeking reelection because there is still more to do. In addition to continued progress on pandemic recovery, he said a new fire station is a top priority.

“We definitely need a new station and this new station will provide a much better response time which means our firefighters will get to where they need to go much quicker,” he said.

Dan Shadwell is challenging Waage, saying it’s time for a change. Shadwell said local government is about listening to constituents, and he was encouraged to run by community members who felt their issues weren’t being addressed.

“I will listen to the residents, listen to our city staff to come up with good solutions to address a lot of the problems that have been kicked down the road—including traffic, a parking shortage, and trash on the beaches,” said Shadwell.

Shadwell has a background in journalism and now works in real estate. He has not held public office before, but said his experience in small business—as well as his skills as a journalist—prepares him well for the job of mayor.

“Each day, you typically go through a drill where you reach out to the smartest people you can find who are the best authorities in that particular field, and you quiz them and try to learn as much as you can,” he said.

His top priorities, if elected, include Covid-19 response, safety issues and traffic solutions.

“We can begin to get folks out of their cars and make the whole area a much more pedestrian-friendly, much more environmentally-conscious area,” said Shadwell.

Both candidates have local endorsements, found on their websites.

As for the one local measure Pismo Beach residents see on their ballots, it's a bed tax, meaning if passed, tourists staying in Pismo Beach hotels, motels and vacation rentals will pay an extra one percent on their bill.

Measure B-20 is calculated to raise an estimated $1 million dollars a year to help the city pay for things like road repairs and pier upkeep. In contrast, the city of Morro Bay is asking its voters to approve a one percent sales tax, an increase paid by both tourists and residents alike.

Editor's note: Pismo Beach mayoral candidate Dan Shadwell is married to KCBX reporter Angel Russell.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
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