Q&A with 1st District San Luis Obispo County Supervisor John Peschong
–John Peschong is the 1st District Supervisor of San Luis Obispo County, representing Paso Robles. He is a small business owner and is also on many local boards and commissions. As someone who follows local politics, I always find it interesting and worthwhile to get to know our politicians better. Obviously, their politics matter but I also think it’s good to get to know the person outside of the politics. Thank you to Mr. Peschong for taking the time out of your schedule to answer our questions.
Q&A with John Peschong, District 1 Supervisor
Are you from Paso Robles originally? If not, where are you from and when did you land here?
I was born and raised in Los Angeles County, my wife and I were married in Shandon in 1999 and we moved to San Luis Obispo County in 2000.
How long have you been in your current position?
I was sworn in as San Luis Obispo County 1st District Supervisor in January 2017.
What were you doing prior to this current position?
Prior to being elected to serve the people of the 1st District, I managed and still help oversee a public relations and political consulting firm I founded with my two business partners in 2003.
How have you been coping with COVID-19 personally and professionally?
My family and I have been coping fairly well with COVID-19, my son is working hard at his online distance learning and my daughter is attending college. We are grateful to be healthy. We had one family member get sick but thankfully she’s recovered and doing well. Professionally it’s been more challenging with trying to ensure that the community stays safe while also keeping our businesses and local economy thriving. Having to take direction from Sacramento is frustrating at times but we are hopeful about the gains made locally in our numbers so that we will have the ability to safely open up more and more.
How have you seen COVID-19 impact the area you serve?
I’ve seen COVID-19 impact our community in many ways, from the small businesses that are struggling to stay open to the individuals who have had to change their lives in order to support family members in need. It’s been a very precarious position we’ve all found ourselves in but I’ve also seen how this community has come together to support the most vulnerable. We’ve seen teachers and so many others who have had to completely rework how they do their jobs, and parents who have had to get creative in how they manage their jobs and their families all day, every day. I’m proud of the efforts this community has made to keep everyone safe and healthy.
As District 1 Supervisor, what have your priorities been in response to COVID-19?
As District 1 Supervisor my priorities in response to COVID-19 have been to assure the capacity in local hospitals to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients with access to a supply of ventilators. To accomplish this, the county collaborated with Cal Poly, local hospitals and businesses to establish the Alternate Care Facility on the Cal Poly campus.
What is your vision for the North County over the next few years as we, hopefully, transition out of COVID-19?
My vision for North County over the next few years as we transition out of COVID-19 is to support and encourage our businesses to thrive. I’m also working on the Paso Robles Basin Cooperative Committee to develop programs to ensure adequate water for residents and agriculture.
What are your goals and ideas to deal with this in direct relation to the COVID-19 shutdowns and partial shutdowns?
I see a lot of people, workers and small business owners, who have been devastated financially. My goals are to continue to support small businesses and working families through the shutdowns mandated by the governor, particularly those who have been devastated financially. I will continue to work with our state representatives to establish guidelines that will allow businesses to open while protecting our citizens at the same time.
Aside from COVID-19, what other issues in North County are on your mind?
Aside from the very real physical and financial threat of COVID-19 to the community, some other issues in North County that are on my mind include homelessness, drug addiction, mental health care, and supporting law enforcement.
2020 has really thrown so many curveballs at us. What is something good that has come from this year and what has been one of the more difficult things for you?
The county has stepped up to address issues and the community has come together to support local individuals and businesses. Local government has worked closely with non-profits such as the SLO Food Bank and Senior Nutrition to provide food for those sheltered at home. Mental health services have increased and homeless assistance has been addressed. I’m thankful to see how our non-profit agencies have worked so closely with county employees to be sure that those in need are not overlooked. It is difficult for me to watch the struggle of our local businesses and to see the isolation of family members from one another. But despite the devastation brought on by COVID-19, there is a spirit of ingenuity and generosity throughout North County.
If you had one message for your constituents, what would that be?
Something I’d like to share with the good people in this community is my gratitude for their support of one another through what’s been a very difficult year. (Covid, law enforcement, politically, etc). Tough times don’t break us, they make us who we are.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work I especially enjoy time with my family and friends, the pandemic has really brought to light how valuable and precious our time together really is.
What are some of your favorite aspects of the North County community as a whole?
Some of my favorite aspects of the North County community as a whole are the people. When it comes right down to it, when a resident is struggling, our community will step up to help.
Is there anything particular that you’d like to see improved upon in North County?
Something I’d like to see improved upon in North County is finding a way to get homeless individuals with addictions into detox, sobriety and rehabilitation programs.