Steve Gregory appointed to fill city council seat
Martin sworn in as mayor, Hamon and Reed sworn in to council seats
Paso Robles Planning Commissioner Steve Gregory was appointed Tuesday night to the city council seat vacated by Steve Martin, after the Paso Robles City Council officially adopted the results of the Nov. 4 Paso Robles City Council and mayoral election results. Martin was sworn in as the city’s newest mayor and John Hamon Jr. and Jim Reed were sworn in as council members.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Gregory said after being appointed.
Martin ran unopposed for the mayoral seat held by Duane Picanco who unsuccessfully ran for a council seat. Reed beat Picanco out of a seat by 14 votes. The next highest vote-getter, Pamela Avila, received 20 votes fewer than Reed. Gregory received the fewest number of votes out of the five running for council — 232 behind Reed. Incumbent Hamon was the front-runner of the council race. Former councilman Ed Steinbeck decided to not seek another term. Picanco served on the city council for 24 years and eight years on the planning commission.
The new council of Martin, Reed, Hamon, and Fred Strong quickly decided to appoint someone to fill the city council vacancy rather than hold a special election in June 2015 at an estimated cost of $95,000. The next motion was to make the decision at the meeting Tuesday rather than holding an interview process that could take up to, but no longer than 60 days.
In the third motion, the council members were each able to nominate any person they felt qualified to serve as a Paso Robles City Council member. Martin said that the nominations for council did not have to be seconded and once all council members had the opportunity to nominate candidates, the council would then deliberate and take a simultaneous, but not secret, vote.
“I’d like the council…to appoint the next highest vote-getter (Picanco) and I hope it’s the avenue you choose tonight,” Paso Robles resident Tom Hardwick said. His sentiments were echoed by many of the other speakers during public comment.
“The way I look at it is we had a vote for city council and the people voted,” Paso Robles resident Gary Dunavan said. “If you deny this vote, you are telling you don’t care about their vote.”
“There were a lot of close votes and I would suggest you select the most qualified in your opinion,” Paso Robles resident Carl Hansen said.
Martin nominated Picanco, saying that he was honoring his commitment during a candidate forum that the third highest vote-getter should be appointed to that vacant seat.
“I’ve known Steve for many, many years,” Hamon said while nominating Gregory. “His expertise could be useful on the city council.”
“This is going to be one of the most difficult decisions we’ve made on the council ever because we have two very qualified candidates,” Strong said.
Gregory received votes from Hamon, Strong and Reed. Martin cast his vote for Picanco. Once Gregory was sworn in, the council selected its mayor pro tem.
“I think Fred Strong is the most competent and best qualified to serve as mayor pro tem,” Paso Robles resident Dale Gustin said.
Hamon nominated Strong, Gregory seconded the motion. Strong was selected as mayor pro tem 5-0.