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The following article was posted on June 24th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 15

Compton v. Ray: What's next for the women running for 4th District SLO County supervisor


Coming into the June 3 primary election, the race for the District 4 seat on the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors was an important, expensive enigma.

Despite more than $400,000 in total campaign contributions, six public forums, and significant media attention, nobody really knew how Lynn Compton, Caren Ray, or Mike Byrd would fare in the battle for what many consider to be the “swing seat” on the board.

June 3 marked the first contested election for public office for Compton, Ray, and Byrd, and—since polling was prohibitively expensive—all three candidates eagerly awaited the election night returns to assess their campaigns.

Ultimately, the vast majority of the vote went to Compton (the top fundraiser and mainstream conservative candidate) and Ray (the incumbent supervisor and mainstream liberal candidate), pushing Byrd out of the race.

As of June 6, the election percentages stand as follows: Compton with 47.2 percent, Ray with 41.8 percent, and Byrd with 10.8 percent. Since none of the candidates garnered 50 percent of the vote, Compton and Ray will advance to a runoff in the November general election.

Speaking with the Sun a few days after the June 3 election, both Compton and Ray were pleased with their performances in the race’s first round, and both predicted a fiercely fought second round later this year.

“Of course, we wanted a clear and decisive win—that 50 percent—and we didn’t get that,” Compton said. “Still, we were running against an incumbent and fighting the machine, so I’m very pleased that we came out on top.”

Compton has been the race’s top spender and fundraiser thus far, garnering a total of $195,415.22 in monetary contributions, loans, and nonmonetary contributions from the race’s outset through May 17. Ray collected $140,549 in the same span.

“Caren had a lot of name recognition, so we made the decision to spend money on signs and advertising,” Compton said. “It won’t be easy in November, and we’re going to have to raise a lot more money.”

There’s no love lost between Compton and Ray, and—when asked about her November strategies and why voters should pick her—Compton was very frank.

“Caren wants what Sacramento wants. She was put in her position by a very partisan Democrat governor, and I don’t think that plays well in South County,” Compton said. “For November, though, I’m going to hit Caren on the poor decisions she’s made.”

When pressed for details, Compton said Ray has raised local taxes and fees, increased government spending, and hurt the local job market during her time as 4th District supervisor.

“She just doesn’t have a clue about how businesses run here in our county, and I believe she is extremely out of touch,” Compton said. “Why do we need someone from Arroyo Grande telling us what to do in the unincorporated areas?”

Compton said voters should vote for her because she holds the business experience and small-business-friendly policies that are needed for economic prosperity in South County.

“I am going to advocate for the little guy, who is currently getting squeezed out, and that’s why people should vote for me,” Compton said.

Unsurprisingly, Ray disagreed with Compton on almost every point.

“In District 4, we pick people based on South County values, not on partisan values,” Ray said. “I best represent those South County values.”

Ray said she was undeterred by coming in second, and added that she considered picking up almost 42 percent of the vote in a three-way District 4 race to be a significant accomplishment.

“Lynn threw everything she had at us, and she still couldn’t pull it out in June,” Ray said. “Primaries generally favor conservatives, and District 4 is a moderate-conservative district, so I think [Compton] only getting 47 percent says a lot.”

When asked about her predictions for November, Ray compared the District 4 race to the parable of the tortoise and the hare.

“[Compton] is the hare, coming out spending all that money with guns blazing, but we’re getting our message out, and slow and steady will win the race,” she said.

Ray said South County voters should support her because she is the only candidate with government experience, she has a proven moderate track record, and she has an inclusive and substantive message. When asked about Compton, Ray didn’t mince words either.

“Lynn is hyper-partisan and has very skewed views that make her, quite simply, too conservative for this district,” Ray said. “I have to make sure that people understand what they’re voting for if they vote for Lynn, because I don’t think they do.”

Ray said she plans to reach out to as many voters as possible between now and November to deliver her issues-based message while also looking to emphasize the differences between the two candidates.

“There was a lot of din from Lynn in this primary, between the extreme negativity, partisanship, and lack of substance,” Ray said. “That din will resonate for a little while, but—in the end—it’s hollow and shallow. I believe our message will get through eventually.”


Jono Kinkade is a staff writer for New Times, the Sun’s sister paper to the north. He can be reached at

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