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KCBX News Update: Former SLO Mayor dies, Santa Barbara Sheriff's race, and infrastructure projects

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Former SLO Mayor remembered for 60-year tenure in city government dies

Flags in San Luis Obispo have been lowered to half-staff following the death of former Mayor Dave Romero, who led the city from 2002 to 2010.

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City of San Luis Obispo
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Dave Romero was mayor of San Luis Obispo from 2002 to 2010.

Before being elected mayor, Romero was the city’s Public Works Director for 36 years beginning in 1956. He then joined the City Council and later became mayor.

During his tenure, Romero had a hand in many of the city’s infrastructure projects. Those include new parks, the Los Osos Valley Road overpass and the Performing Arts Center at Cal Poly.

City officials also said in a release that Romero was instrumental in many of the city's water projects like the "Whale Rock Reservoir in the 1960s and, more recently, the Nacimiento Reservoir Project and the development of the city’s recycled water system."

The city’s current mayor, Erica A. Stewart, said that Romero’s long career in city government helped create the modern fabric of the city.

"Through the roads he helped build, water he secured, and downtown improvements he inspired, he was a critical part of so many of the things we love about our community today," Stewart said.

Sheriff Bill Brown Running for Re-Election

Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown announced this week he is running for re-election.

Serving as Sheriff since 2007, Brown describes himself as a proponent of community policing. If re-elected, Sheriff Brown said he will continue to focus on addressing the opioid crisis, diverting mentally ill individuals from the criminal system and rehabilitation of criminal offenders.

A number of Santa Barbara County mayors as well as District Attorney Joyce Dudley support Brown’s reelection.

Brown will face Sheriff’s Lt. Juan Camarena, who has been in the department for 23 years, in this year’s June primary. Camarena is endorsed by the Santa Barbara Deputy Sheriff’s Association and the county’s Firefighter’s Association, and said he would focus on officer training, better crime prevention technology and community input.

Infrastructure Projects

Two Central Coast infrastructure projects are moving forward after nearly $600 million of state funding was approved this week for improvements across the state.

The City of Lompoc in Santa Barbara County is getting $2 million to rehabilitate pavement and install ADA improvements. This is planned for Highway 246 from V Street to H Street and on Highway 1 from H Street to 12th Street.

Pacific Grove in Monterey County will also see updates on Highway 68 from 17 Mile Drive to Congress Avenue. More than half a million dollars was approved to fund ADA pathways, curb ramps and sidewalks.

Benjamin Purper came to KCBX in May of 2021 from California’s Inland Empire, where he spent three years as a reporter and Morning Edition host at KVCR in San Bernardino. Dozens of his stories have aired on KQED’s California Report, and his work has broadcast on NPR's news magazines, as well. In addition to radio, Ben has worked as a newspaper reporter and freelance writer.
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 and now reports daily for KCBX News. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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