Voters in the 5th Supervisorial District encompassing Atascadero and outlying areas have a very clear choice and direction to take in their selection of a County Supervisor. The election is barely a month away with early voting now available.
The incumbent, Debbie Arnold has been your County Supervisor for the last 8 years and has kept to her promise of fiscal frugality and to fight for you against powerful outside interests. For example, when major league political players attempted to force adoption of a water plan using size of land-holdings as criteria for voting, Debbie Arnold fought hard to protect the rights of individual homeowners, ranchers and farmers. She traveled to the State Legislature and testified that the nearly adopted plan would politically disenfranchise over 4000 small property owners and give enormous, disproportionate power to large landowners. In the end, Debbie’s efforts preserved the concept of “one man, one vote” instead of allowing a landowner with 10,000 acres be given 10,000 votes to determine water rights in the County unincorporated areas. For her efforts big businesses in her district were angry but Debbie fought for all of us, regardless of the political consequences.
By contrast, Beraud has accepted multiple large donations (totaling over $37,000 according to Beraud’s State Form 460) from out of the area tied to the marijuana/cannabis industry, some of it with nefarious sources. Among the largest amounts were $23,000 received on Jan.11, 2020 from Willian Szymczak of Palos Verdes Peninsula and Ye Rustic Inn of Los Angeles ($1,700). Szymczak and the owner of the Rustic Inn (Susan Wood) are partners in the Dayspring cannabis operations in SLO County. In 2019 SLO County filed an abatement notice against Dayspring for the “unlawful cultivation of marijuana .” In violation of State laws Dayspring also employed Scott Dayspring, a convicted felon who served prison time with an enhancement for “gang affiliation.” The state doesn’t permit felons to work in the cannabis industry.
Beraud also accepted a $10,000 contribution from Beechwood Industries whose owner is Brett Vapnek. Vapnek also owns Nipomo Ag which cultivates marijuana. The state filed a lawsuit in 2019 against Vapnek for illegally processing marijuana, failure to pay fees and licenses along with placing “unregulated cannabis into the cannabis market”. Vapnek is also a co-owner the Lowell Farms (Lowell Herb Co.) which was cited in 2019 for violation of the state Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act: their warehouse in Nipomo was raided in 2019 and the State seized 18,000 “pre-rolled (marijuana) joints” and related cannabis products. The State’s complaint ended by stating that Vapnek’s operation “created grave public health risks to Californians.” It’s hard to believe that candidate Beraud, as a member of the Board of Supervisors will be objective when adopting county regulations for cannabis/marijuana operations.
By contrast, Debbie has not accepted any money from the cannabis/marijuana lobby and has worked hard to protect neighborhoods from suddenly finding a “pot farm” next door.
Debbie has courage: she “walks into the lions den” of political opposition to listen to her constituents. By contrast, Beraud is avoiding tough audiences and has repeatedly failed to show up at candidate forums such as the Templeton Chamber of Commerce, the California Taxpayers Association and the County Farm Bureau.
Debbie works tirelessly on behalf of veterans. She fought to build the Veterans Memorial in Atascadero over much political opposition from the “extreme Left” and has shown support by attending the Memorial’s dedication and virtually every ceremony honoring veterans. By contrast, her opponent Ellen Beraud, was the sole Atascadero City Council member to vote against the Memorial in 2007 at a time when the Iraq War was intense with many American casualties, including some from Atascadero and other areas of the County.
Beraud’s vote against the Memorial was documented by archived video of the City Council meeting held on March 27, 2007. Beraud then hurled an insult to all of the veterans who worked hard to build the memorial. Beraud: “I also have been shocked by the insinuations and tactics of intimidation by members of the Atascadero Veterans Memorial Committee…” This statement was made during “Council Comments” which afforded no opportunity for officers of the Veterans Memorial Foundation to rebut her slur. Nobody from the Foundation engaged in intimidation of anyone during the hearing process. In fact, the only mention of “intimidation” came from Beraud and her supporters who also claimed that “the presence of uniformed soldiers at the City Council meeting was intimidating.” The presence of a few soldiers recently returned from Iraq/Afghanistan, wearing their uniforms and sitting quietly in the public audience is somehow intimidating? That was the mindset of Ms Beraud and those who opposed honoring the memory of our local fallen heroes.
Ellen Berauds’ ads describe her as “independent.” Beraud’s record is that of a Democratic Party-backed extreme, environmental Leftist. In her time on the city council she repeatedly proposed adoption of coercive environmental policies. Nor was she a friend of business, steadfastly opposing many projects. According to past council members, Beraud demonstrated uncompromising rigidity, even walked out of a council meeting when they rejected her proposals. Beraud fought against the Wal Mart project and now, due to a national retail slide, we don’t have a single major general merchandise retailer anywhere throughout the 5th District. We could have done better, but opposition by Beraud and her allies discouraged major investment in our area.
We have a clear choice. The differences between Debbie Arnold and Ellen Beraud could not be more evident.