The SLO County Progressives held a meet-the-candidates night last week and, depending on which version of events you believe, San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon either:
A) Dropped a microphone and stormed out of a question-and-answer session, after proclaiming she was the only Progressive candidate; or
B) Left the meeting after being relentlessly heckled by political opponents, including one seated in the front row. (Nick Andre, co-chair of the SLO Progressives, said a couple of audience members walked out because they feared for their safety.)
There’s a way to settle this, or to at least let voters draw their own conclusions: Release the video, please.
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We know some video was shot; county Supervisor Adam Hill shared a clip of his (negative) statement about Harmon’s opponent, Keith Gurnee, though Hill told us it was the only video he had.
The supervisor also offered his version of events: “My own take is that Gurnee was there, with some supporters, to get under Heidi’s skin and it worked. But it was smarmy and dishonest.”
Gurnee denied that he packed the house with his supporters; he said he invited only one person along.
The Tribune requested video of the event from Andre, but as of Wednesday afternoon, he had not responded.
Gurnee told us he, too, requested video, and he shared Andre’s email response with us:
“We will not be providing any video.”
The SLO Progressives are under no obligation to share video, but in the interests of transparency and in educating the electorate, it’s the right thing to do.
Also, this “dropped mic” episode is bound to come up again in the campaign, and like a fish story, it may grow more dramatic with each telling.
And it’s not like this was a secret meeting that took place behind closed doors.. This was a general meeting, advertised on the organization’s calendar of events, held at the SLO Guild Hall. It included opening statements with Democratic candidates for a few local offices, including mayor and school board, as well as question-answer sessions., followed by endorsement votes. (Harmon won the endorsement in her race.)
For those unable to attend, making video available would be a big service.
Other organizations, such as the Latino Outreach Council, have live-streamed their candidates forums and put them online for later viewing.
The Tribune respectfully asks the SLO Progressives to do the same by sharing any video they may have available.