Two candidates are vying for Morro Bay's mayoral seat: business owner, Carla Wixom, is challenging incumbent mayor, Dr. John Headding.
Wixom told KSBY, “Frankly, I've been disappointed in the current leadership and the reactive government that they've had. It's been less than transparent, and I feel that we can do better talking in the community to people.”
As the owner of Carla's Country Kitchen, Wixom says she listened to customers talk about changes they feel are needed in the community, for years. She added that she can be a voice for families as well as small business owners.
First elected Mayor four years ago, Dr. Headding, who worked as a hospital administrator, says he led the city during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as multiple new projects, including the new water reclamation plant.
“I have two grandchildren in high school here that grew up in this community. And I'll be proud to say to them that in their future, if they remain here, that there will be a supply of water that they can depend upon,” he said.
In about two years, once phase 2 is complete, the plant will be able to provide 60-80% of drinking water necessary for Morro Bay, according to Headding.
But Wixom is concerned people will not be able to live in the city long enough to enjoy that.
“I have four generations of family living here, and it's important to me. I'm looking at it from my mother's position, who is almost 90 years old, and the lack of affordability for her to stay here, as well as my grandson, who's an elementary school. Where does our future go?” said Wixom.
Regarding affordable housing, Dr. Headding says the city formed a subcommittee to identify potential sites.
“We've just started that process. We're looking for a number of properties. As an example, our old secondary school that closed many years ago is a prime site for something like that. That could be a public private partnership with the school district,” he added.
Wixom is also concerned about how residents and tourists get around in the city, especially because tourism is the number one industry in Morro Bay.
“My focus, too, was what's on our streets, the lack of paving. We have money moving forward, but it's minimal and it doesn't really target the north end of Morro Bay in those areas that just don't get the opportunity to see that benefit. Also, our bike paths and our intersections all need some support and help,” she explained.
Dr. Headding says he is also looking to improve infrastructure, including along the Embarcadero and the downtown. He added that he is in favor of a parcel tax to help fund the improvements.
“People come to Morro Bay to enjoy the bay, to enjoy the Embarcadero. And some of the issues over the years has been the fact that we haven't been able to fund any capital improvement program for the harbor,” he said.
On the topic of unhoused populations in Morro Bay, both candidates say they look forward to working with San Luis Obispo County to address the root causes of the unhoused crisis.