Former Arroyo Grande Mayor Jim Hill Shouldn’t Talk About Police Right Now. Here’s Why.

Aaron Ochs
5 min readJun 16, 2020
Former Arroyo Grande mayor Jim Hill

Since he lost his re-election bid to Caren Ray Russom in 2018, the former mayor has tried his hardest to stay relevant in the conversation. And he has a really odd way of expressing himself. He writes like he’s still campaigning for mayor. And when he actually was mayor, he wrote a number of op-eds on CalCoastNews as if he was still campaigning: a lot of aimless stump speeches that routinely glossed over substance. I’m not too familiar with the issues in South County — most likely because he was unable to articulate them in a clear and presentable way — but his “in-your-face” opinions were so prevalent on CalCoastNews, readers were constantly bombarded with his rhetorical self-indulgence. Eventually, his opinions became too nauseating to read.

But on June 15, he wrote an op-ed that caught my attention.

He took aim at incumbent Ray Russom over comments she made that addressed the need to confront systemic racism and inequalities that continue to dominate the national landscape. Ray Russom indicated that the Arroyo Grande police could do their part in “continu[ing] to diversify police forces, but also to provide more nuanced racially sensitive training.” Hill assumed that Ray was somehow implying the Arroyo Grande Police Department was somehow inadequate as is. And so he furrowed his brow and lectured the mayor about how caring, diligent, fair and respectful the police are.

Suffice to say, he completely missed the point about Ray Russom’s remarks, which he called “uninformed” and “self-gratifying.” Having watched the more recent Arroyo Grande City Council meetings, the conversation the Council had about law enforcement wasn’t a slight against the AGPD. Rather, they discussed how the tragic and preventable death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was a teaching moment for all law enforcement to reflect on and improve from. Hill’s argument basically boils down to the mere assumption that the Council believes the AGPD is a broken system that needs fixing; that they shouldn’t fix a department that he believes isn’t broken.

It’s a strange talking point. He creates a source of contentiousness that doesn’t exist to begin with. But when you look at Hill’s initial ascent to power, it’s important to remind people of the…

Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.