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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election

City of San Luis ObispoCandidate for City Council

Photo of Jan Howell Marx

Jan Howell Marx

8,338 votes (19.39%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Apply my budgetary skills to lead the City out of this economic meltdown, just as I led us out of the 2008 Great Recession.
  • Help our City and region become more inclusive, diverse and accepting of our differences; work toward reconciliation and healing.
  • I spearheaded the City's first Climate Action Plan and will put energy into implementing it and its recent update.



Campus Dean and Professor, San Luis Obispo College of Law (2016–current)
Attorney and Owner, Law Offices of Jan Howell Marx (1993–2016)
Mayor, San Luis Obispo City Council — Elected position (2010–2016)
City Council Member, San Luis Obispo City Council — Elected position (2008–2010)
City Council Member, San Luis Obispo City Council — Elected position (1998–2002)
Planning Commissioner, San Luis Obispo Planning Commission — Appointed position (1996–1998)
Parks and Recreation Commissioner, County of San Luis Obispo — Appointed position (1990–1998)
Attorney, George Gallo Collins Sullivan law firm (1990–1993)
Deputy District Attorney, County of San Luis Obispo District Attorney's Office (1989–1990)
Legal Assistant, Santa Clara County Council (1986–1988)


Santa Clara University School of Law Juris Doctor, California, Constitutional and Local Government Law (1988)
Columbia University M.A., Comparative Literature (1969)
Stanford University B.A., English, drama, German (1967)


Jan Howell Marx biography 2019

Jan Howell Marx’s twelve years on City Council makes her the longest serving woman elected official in the history of San Luis Obispo.  She was elected Mayor of the City of San Luis Obispo in 2010 and re-elected in 2012 and 2014. She served as a Council Member on the San Luis Obispo City Council from 1998-2002 and 2008-2010.  In 2016 she received the unanimous vote of all five Supervisors and seven Mayors to be the Chair of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) and San Luis Obispo Regional Transportation Agency (SLO RTA). She also served on the Air Pollution Control District and Integrated Waste Management Authority. Prior to her time on City Council, she served on the SLO City Planning Commission and the County Parks and Recreation Commission.  See the following Political Philosophy section for more information on her achievements while in office.

Jan has practiced law in San Luis Obispo since 1988, specializing in estate planning, real property, environmental, construction, employment and local government law.  She owned her own successful law firm from 1993 to 2010. She is a former Deputy District Attorney and civil litigator. Currently, she is Campus Dean of the SLO College of Law, a branch of the Monterey College of Law, where she also teaches courses such as Constitutional Law and Women and the Law. She earlier taught Business Law at Cal Poly.  She has served as a mediator for real property matters and also conducted settlement conferences for the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.  Past President of Women Lawyers Association of San Luis Obispo County, she was recognized by that organization as Outstanding Woman Lawyer of the Year in 2017. She was named a 2019 “Woman of Distinction” by the Community Foundation of San Luis Obispo County.

She has extensive volunteer experience. A co-founder of the Temporary Restraining Order clinic for victims of domestic violence (which now is operated by Stand Strong Women’s’ Shelter), she also volunteers for the San Luis Obispo Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF), and SLO County Bar Association Fee Arbitration panel. She has been an advocate of preservation of local open space and natural areas for over twenty-five years, working with the Land Conservancy, ECOSLO and the City Farm San Luis Obispo. She is a member of the NAACP and the SLO County Diversity Coalition. She is an active member of San Luis Obispo County Passport Rotary and has served on a number of local boards, including the Friends of 40Prado which raises funds for the Homeless Services Center.

Jan Howell Marx has earned degrees from Santa Clara Law School (J.D.); Stanford University (B.A.), Columbia University (M.A.) and has had extensive training in mediation.  Prior to her legal career, she taught English in community colleges.  Her administrative experience includes serving as Assistant Dean of Students at Stanford University, Dean of Students at Scripps College in Pomona and Director of a branch of a community college in a remote area of British Columbia. She is married to Steven Marx, and they have two children and four grandsons.  She enjoys active grandparenting, reading, hiking, King Charles Cavalier Spaniels, travel and trying out new recipes from around the world.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • The Tribune Newspaper
  • Sierra Club Santa Lucia SLO Chapter
  • Democrats of San Luis Obispo Club

Organizations (5)

  • Planned Parenthood of the Central Coast (100%) rating
  • San Luis Obispo IBEW International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers
  • Central Coast Labor Council
  • Tri County Building & Construction Trades Council

Elected Officials (2)

  • Carlyn Christianson SLO City Council Member
  • Mary Strobridge, Cuesta College Board of Trustees 5th District

Individuals (17)

  • Kevin Clark, SLO County Poet Laureate
  • Patricia Andreen, former Architectural Review Commissioner
  • Karen Corda Adler, Alta Vista Neighborhood Chair
  • Lea Brooks, SLO Active Transportation Commissioner
  • Larry Allen, former Air Pollution Control District Executive Director
  • Pandora Nash-Karner, County Parks Commissioner
  • Janine Kennel Rands
  • David Blakely, former SLO County Supervisor for the 5th District
  • Kyle Wiens, Co-Founder and Owner of Ifixit corporation in San Luis Obispo
  • Erica Flores Baltodano, SLO County Civil Service Commission
  • Hemalata Dandekar, SLO City Planning Commission Chair
  • Dawn Ortiz-Legg, SLO County Planning Commissioner
  • Kara Woodruff, Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning committee
  • John Ashbaugh, former SLO City Council Member
  • Allen Settle, former SLO Mayor
  • Sam Blakeslee, former California State Senator for the 15th District
  • Kathi Smith, former SLO City Council Member

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy


Jan believes in saving the City money. She led the City through the Great Recession of 2008, budget cuts and all.  She collaborated with the Chamber and community to craft the City's long term Economic Development Plan and will support its update and implementation to guide us to economic recovery from the pandemic induced meltdown. Working with her Council, she got the ball rolling to start paying down our unfunded pension liability, over time. 

Jan believes in preservation and right use of natural resources.  As Mayor and City Council member, Jan has helped the City build its surrounding greenbelt of over 7,000 acres. Even before being in office, she worked with the City, County, Land Conservancy, and the Sierra Club to preserve open space, starting with Bishop's Peak in 1997. She also led the fight for preservation of 50% of the Dalidio area land in agriculture, where now City Farm SLO teaches organic gardening and gives vegetables to the Food Bank.  She fought alongside the community to stop the trains threatening to carry tar sands oil through our city. As president of ECOSLO, she advocated for pesticide parks and will continue that crusade once in office. She successfully urged Council to make the City the first in the County to ban polystyrene.  She worked with her Council and the Board of Supervisors to secure water from the Nacimento Reservoir. The City had been paying for water rights since 1959, but not getting a drop before finally connecting to this crucial source.

Jan believes Climate Change is the single most pressing existential threat facing our planet.  She has fought against Climate Change for decades, in office and as a private citizen.  She spearheaded the City's first Climate Action Plan, supports the recent update, and will work hard for their implementation.  She also facilitated the Local Government commission's grant funded study of our county's ability to adapt to climate change, see She supported reducing the roads budget allocation from 90% for car related improvements to the present modal split: 20% bicycle, 18% pedestrian, 12% transit and 50% cars.  This modal split has won SLO national recognition as a bike friendly city.  As a private citizen, she raised funds to connect the Cal Poly and City bike paths systems, which had been separated by a mere 500 feet of dirt. At every opportunity, she has advocated saving and planting more trees, not only for their beauty, but also because they provide shade, oxygen and serve to sequester carbon. She also worked for years to lay the foundation for the City’s current participation in the clean energy consortium, Central Coast Community Energy.

Pragmatic and practical, Jan believes in supporting efficient parking and safe automobile and bus transportation. She has voted and will vote in favor of parking garages on the periphery of the Downtown. Not only do these investments in public infrastructure help local businesses, but they also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing random cruising for on street parking.   When Northbound cars were dangerously lined up on the shoulder of 101 because they could not exit as the Los Osos Valley Road off ramp, she worked with Caltrans and the SLO Council of Governments (SLOCOG) to secure construction funding for the new LOVR interchange. She is a fan of public transportation and, as President of the Regional Transportation Agency (RTA) helped identify and secure the funding for the site of the new bus barn facility, currently under construction. 

Jan believes racism and sexism are toxic and poison our country.  She supported the creation of the City's Human Relations Commission. When it came to light that the Boy Scouts were receiving City office space rent free, despite the fact that they discriminated against homosexuals and nonbelievers, Jan led the fight for their relocation. A member of the local NAACP Chapter and a student participant in the Civil Rights movement, she supports the current antiracist movement, as long as tactics remain nonviolent. She is a women's rights advocate and is in favor of the long stalled Equal Rights Amendment's finally being passed. 

Jan believes that parks, recreation, and the arts are crucial to the community's well-being and mental health. They are especially important for young people and families. She supports the creation of more parks, the upkeep of the ones we have, and the expansion of the public arts program. It was her pleasure to work with the Youth Sports community to facilitate funds to build the Damon-Garcia Sports fields. She supported the local skateboard community's vision of a skateboard park voted to fund its construction and was happy to attend its opening with her family. She also served on the Performing Arts Center (PAC) Board and helped stabilize their budget process so they can plan for the future. She supported the efforts of the SLO railroad community for years to transform the dilapidated warehouse into today's thriving Railroad Museum. She then spearheaded the removal of the adjacent billboard, so the Museum could replace it with its own monument sign. 

Jan believes in increasing affordable housing and helping the homeless.  She backed the City's first Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which established a fund for affordable housing grants, supported every such project while in office and will do so in the future.  She was instrumental in identifying the building site and securing funding for the Homeless Services Center at 40 Prado, where she volunteers when possible. Providing housing is the first step in helping the homeless achieve stability needed to reenter society.  

Jan believes that the City would benefit from a Police Oversight Committee. Given the recurring protests in our City, many residents are questioning our City’s police practices. It is time to consider if we should establish a Police Accountability Commission, like many other university cities. Because SLO is a Charter City, we have the power to establish such a Commission,  if we amend our Charter. Jan will propose reaching out to the community and starting that process.



Position Papers

I support the Green New Deal


I signed the pledge to uphold the Green New Deal September 16, 2020

THE GREEN NEW DEAL PLEDGE "The American people need a Green New Dealby Senator Edword Morkey snd Representqtive Alexandrio Ocasio.Cortez, to stop climate change achieve environmental sustainability, create millions of good jobs, and realize economic prosperity for all, I pledge that I will use my office to champion a Green New DeaI in any and all ways, including but not limited to. developing and supporting Green New Deal legislation and/or resolutions; building support amongst my colleagues for a Green New Dea[; and publicly advocating for the necessity of a Green New Deal In order to fully uphold this duty, I pledge to not take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, or PACs and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits."

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