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SLO County Board of Supervisors expected to lean liberal despite newly-drawn districts

A map of the newly-drawn SLO County districts.
County of San Luis Obispo
A map of the newly-drawn SLO County districts.

The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors adopted a controversial new district map back in December that prompted a lawsuit alleging the map favors conservative voters.

But after the June 7 Primary Election, it looks like the Board of Supervisors could shift to a left-leaning majority, despite the changes to the district map.

Supervisors in Districts 2, 3 and 4 were up for re-election this year. Based on votes counted so far, left-leaning Supervisors Bruce Gibson and Dawn Ortiz-Legg appear to be holding their seats.

But in District 4, counted ballots so far are showing Jimmy Paulding ahead of conservative incumbent Lynn Compton.

Jimmy Paulding addresses supporters at a watch party in Arroyo Grande on June 7.
Rachel Showalter
Jimmy Paulding addresses supporters at a watch party in Arroyo Grande on June 7.

If Paulding holds his lead, the Board of Supervisors will shift to a 3-2 progressive majority. According to Michael Latner, a professor of political science at Cal Poly who studies redistricting and gerrymandering, this could influence a lot of local change.

“There’s no question about it — you’re going to see a lot of issues that the county’s going to be looking at with fresh eyes and with a new majority that will change county politics for sure,” Latner said.

Latner has been very outspoken in criticizing San Luis Obispo County’s new district lines and the way the board majority handled the redrawing process.

He said this expected left-leaning shift in board seats is more a result of the funding and media that built a strong campaign for Paulding in District 4. Though, he said the SLO County District map is still biased toward conservative voters.

“You shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from one election to evaluate any map,” Latner said.

He said he still hopes the new board will opt to change the map, even though it will likely turn out to be a progressive majority during this election cycle.

“You’re going to see a very interesting conversation take place I think between the electeds and the groups on the ground in terms of whether or not they want to push forward the lawsuit for example to change the districts or to go back to the old districts,” Latner said.

That lawsuit was initiated by San Luis Obispo County Citizens for Good Government, a local nonprofit organization.

The June 7 Primary Election is not yet certified, though that is expected by July 7.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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