The two candidates vying for the mayor's seat in Pismo Beach and the four individuals hoping to fill two seats on the City Council told a standing room only crowd Thursday why they should be elected or re-elected Nov. 4.

Incumbent Mayor Shelly Higginbotham is being challenged for the two-year term she has held for the last four years by Shell Beach resident Kevin Kreowski, a San Luis Obispo County native and Arroyo Grande High School graduate.

Kreowski told the room of 60-plus people that if he's running for mayor because he wants to give something to community where he was raised and calls home.

"I'm not looking to be a supervisor or a congressman or a senator," Kreowski said. "I'm looking to give back to my city."

If re-elected in November, Higginbotham would serve her third term as Pismo Beach mayor. She was first elected to the seat in 2010 and joked that for "98 percent of the time, I have enjoyed being mayor." 

She told the packed room in that time she has worked her hardest to make the city a better place to live, work and visit, something she would continue to do if she retains the gavel.

When asked whether there should be term limits for the council, Higginbotham, who has served on the City Council for 10 years, said it would depend on the length of the term.

"There's pros and cons to it," she said, adding it takes time to become familiar with city issues and serving as an elected official is a learning process. "I was a deer in headlights when I first got on the council."

Incumbent Councilwoman Mary Ann Reiss, who is the longest sitting councilmember, with 16 years under her belt, said it would be up to the voters to decide whether she keeps her seat. Reiss was also the city's first directly elected mayor.

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"Do they want me sitting here or not?," Reiss said about term limits and the upcoming election, which pits her and incumbent Councilman Kris Vardas against challengers Sheila Blake and Marcia Guthrie. Vardas is also seeking re-election.

Blake, who made an unsuccesful bid for election in 2012, and Guthrie both said they would support term limits.

"If it was good enough for FDR, it's good enough for us," Blake said. "It shouldn't be a career. Do your duty and then make room for someone else to do their duty."

Both Blake and Guthrie were vocal critics of the council and the Spanish Springs development that was recently proposed for development in Price Canyon, which triggered a citizens referendum that forced the council to rescind votes it made that many believe paved the way for the project to move forward. The proposal has since been taken off the table.

"We did a referendum because (the council) wasn't listening," Guthrie said. "If they are elected, it will be full-steam ahead in Price Canyon."

Asked whether any of the six supported Measure H-14, which would amend the city's general plan to limit large-scale development in areas of Price Canyon if it passes in November, Vardas said the council's role is to try to solve problems, which it did with the Spanish Springs project.

"Personally, I'd like to protect my views," Vardas said, "but as a councilmember, our job is to solve problems."

All six candidates agreed that revitalization and enhancement of downtown Pismo Beach needs to be a priority. Water also made the top list of priorities.

The candidates forum, which was moderated by the League of Women Voters, can be viewed on Charter channel 20.

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