H-CENTRAL COAST

Feb 13, 2013 9:57 PM by Keli Moore, KSBY News

The heat is on for Share SLO's Ambassador competitors

There are five days left to cast final votes for Share SLO's Ambassador Program. Not everyone is happy with the way the "Happiest City in America's" competition is playing out.

There are 41 people fighting for the job. They posted online videos that people vote for. Only the top 10 will get an interview for the gig. A group made up of city employees and people who work in different facets of the tourism industry will make the final decision, but some say the competition has become dirty.

"In marketing you do whatever you can to get the most publicity," said Jayne Wayne, the owner Jayne Wayne Designs in downtown San Luis Obispo.

With $50,000 at stake has this competition gone too far?

"The only time I hear about it is on Facebook, and Facebook is basically a forum to brag. If you are going to go there, then you should expect that," said Spencer Goodwin, the owner of Powell Sweet Shop.

Some say their inbox is inundated with 'vote for me emails.' Others think the process is getting dodgy.

In fact, KSBY posted a question about the competition on its Facebook page.

Here's what some had to say: Andrew Cannon wrote, "The fact that some contestants are using third party services to garner extra votes seems kind a shady." Sassie Cassie wrote, "I think the rules are too lenient."

"In this particular position it tends to taint it, and I think it is turning people away from the process," said Wayne.

San Luis Obispo's Tourism Business Improvement District is behind that process. So KSBY had to ask if there are any rules for the competition.

"There is no policy against buying votes," said Molly Cano, the tourism manager for the city of San Luis Obispo.

The way to get votes is to be visible, and to do that in this day in age, contestants need to have a big online footprint.

"At the end of the day when we have the interview panel we will be able to determine who the best fit is for this position not just based on the votes from the first phase of the contest," said Cano.

Cano said phase two is all about the interview. "The contestants will be asked to describe how they campaigned and buying votes could work against them," she explained.

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