Maria Elena Garcia has worked as a pharmacy technician at the local Walmart since transferring to the area 12 years ago. She said she quickly fell in love with the small town feel and the beautiful surroundings and soon became involved in her son’s school and her church. She went on to serve as one of the founding members of the Hispanic Business Association, a business networking organization with 63 members and she currently serves on the Paso Robles Library board of trustees.
“Over the years I have seen our community grown and evolve,” Garcia said. “It’s something that we’re very supportive of. But on the other hand, I want to make sure that our quality of life will be supported with thoughtful public policy, which I want to make sure I’m a part of.”
WHAT WILL YOU DO TO FACILITATE HOUSING FOR WORKERS AND FAMILIES IN PASO ROBLES?
Garcia said that she is familiar with the housing problem in the area on a first-hand basis.
“I myself am also in that need and so is my son,” she said. “He’s 25 and he works in construction. He has his buddies who work as electricians and they all look for that —to be able to rent or own a house that they can afford. So I would like to be able to be in with the City plan and be able to sit with (Community Development Director) Warren (Frace) and come up with a plan. I think that we can flourish in our community but we’re going to have to come together to make sure that it can be possible.”
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM FACING PASO ROBLES AND WHAT IS YOUR SOLUTION?
Garcia said that her number one priority since beginning her campaign is public safety. She said that through her job at the pharmacy, she’s seen the opioid epidemic first-hand along with drug trafficking along Highway 101.
“We need more police officers,” she said. “We need more cameras in the community. If we can’t get police officers right away, we need to get more community patrol cars. If people will see more community patrol cars out there in the community maybe it will deter some of the things that are happening out there.”
Garcia also recounted finding dirty needles in the parking lot of the Walmart where she works.
“And I have to go inside and get gloves and get a hazardous material and walk outside and that is so shameful,” she said. “And I see it every day, people getting addicted and people having problems with it. We need to find resources to help them.”
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION ON SB 54, THE SANCTUARY CITY LAW AND WILL YOU PROACTIVELY WORK WITH OR AGAINST ICE TO REMOVE CONVICTED CRIMINAL ILLEGAL ALIENS OUT OF PASO ROBLES?
Garcia didn’t take a strong stance one way or the other but said that she met with the chief of police who told her that SB-54 is not “tying the hands” of local police officers.
“He says him and his officers have been trained to be police officers and that’s what they do no matter what. They don’t ask people for their status, that’s not their job. I’m a mother so I definitely want, if a criminal is committing a crime, for that person to be arrested… SB-54 is a California state law. It’s not something that the City should spend so much money and getting into lawsuits over because we have other issues that we need to work on. We need to work on our parks, our library, our general fund, and other issues. I don’t think that we should spend our money or waste our money on that issue.”
RESIDENTS KEEP BEING TOLD THERE’S A SHORTAGE OF WATER BUT WE KEEP BUILDING HOTELS. HOW ARE THE TWO COMPATIBLE? DO YOU WANT PASO TO GROW? AND WOULD YOU PROMOTE TOURISM THROUGH THE BUDGET?
Garcia echoed the unconcern of others at the forum on the topic of water and expressed confidence in the five available sources of water the City currently uses.
“As far as growth, I think Andy’s correct about maintaining and being responsive about growth. Growth could be the affordable housing and the coming of the great ideas for different housing to make it more accessible for the working service people.”
On the topic of tourism, Garcia said it has been “great for us” and has helped the City to build the general fund.
“We’re getting the money in there to be able to pay for other things in the community, so the tourism, of course, is a great thing for us, we just have to be careful with the whole online internet, the way it’s taking over, the online situation kind of takes over.”

Getting through this together, Paso Robles