Here’s why I’m voting for Keith Gurnee
Make no mistake, Tom Fulks, I wholeheartedly support Keith Gurnee for SLO mayor!
Keith is a talented professional city planner and urban designer. A talent sorely missing in our current Council.
I first knew Keith as a student in Cal Poly’s newly created City and Regional Planning program Then, suddenly, there was Keith sitting on our City Council – the first Cal Poly student so elected. Fulks forgets to mention that Gurnee was a flaming liberal at the time and drove conservative councilmembers nuts. But, make no mistake, Gurnee was a participator: his vote helped complete Mission Plaza.
I have been greatly surprised by Fulks as well as former Mayor Jan Marx and former Chamber of Commerce Executive Dave Garth — all “professionals” — who have stooped to snide remarks rather than providing their analyses of Keith’s actual council record.
Like most, I would have made different decisions on the issues Fulks raises, but those issues are trival compared to the dire issues SLO faces. A 35-year storm will flood downtown again; a new police station and another fire station are needed, along with more parking downtown; ensuring tax funds are adequate to meet personnel and new facility needs; resisting state legislative dictates that diminish local control of land use; and striving to work with Cal Poly on mutual issues.
These are the problems Keith has the ability to solve. This is where his professional skills reside and these are the decisions he will be confident in taking that will help return San Luis Obispo to its premier position.
That’s why I am voting Keith Gurnee for mayor.
Ken Schwartz, San Luis Obispo
Editor’s note: Ken Schwartz is a former mayor of San Luis Obispo.
A question for SLO mayoral candidates
The recent letter by Richard Schmidt endorsing Keith Gurnee for mayor prompts me to ask a question to both Mr. Gurnee and Ms. Heidi Harmon about preserving and expanding open space around the city.
The so-called “Villaggio” project at Froom Ranch proposes to develop a difficult site with numerous environmental and engineering challenges. The project sponsors seek many changes to the city’s current environmental policies, General Plan, and creek setback ordinance. These include (1) eliminating the 150 foot elevation limit for development in the Irish Hills, (2) ignoring the city’s creek setback ordinance and moving Froom Creek to accommodate new development, (3) eliminating all or part of an existing conservation easement on the property for development and (4) relocating an existing stormwater detention pond and changing its purpose.
I would like to know Mr. Gurnee’s and Ms. Harmon’s positions on these requests, which will be forthcoming in the development proposal. The council insisted on having an “actionable alternative” project that did not do these things, and such an alternative will hopefully be a realistic alternative and not a straw man. Both candidates “talk the talk” about open space protection and enlargement; now the question is will you “walk the walk”?
Neil Havlik, San Luis Obispo
Gurnee’s got a history of ‘showboating’
In my 39-year career as CEO of the SLO Chamber of Commerce, I interacted professionally with literally dozens of members of the City Council. Even though we sometimes differed politically or philosophically, I found all of them to have high integrity, and to genuinely have our citizens’ best interests at heart. All, that is, except for one — T. Keith Gurnee.
Even though it was 40+ years ago, I still vividly remember his showboating and grandstanding, his gross exaggerations to sow fear and distrust, and his use of “alternative facts” to cause divisions among our citizens.
Fast forward to today. In his campaign for mayor, he’s using exactly those same tactics, called “Trumpian” by some, to spread dissension. He’s clever enough to know that his unrealistic “pie in the sky” turn-the-clock-back solutions to real problems could never actually work, but it’s all just a political game to him. Contrast that to our current mayor Heidi Harmon, who’s genuinely trying to solve problems and adapt our city to the new realities — even if it’s sometimes politically inconvenient. In just two years she has produced a solid record of accomplishment. That’s why I support Heidi Harmon for another term as mayor.
Dave Garth, San Luis Obispo
Aghast at what’s happening in SLO
Recognizing the big mistake voters made in electing novice Heidi Harmon in 2016, a group of us citizens set about vetting candidates for City Council a year ago.
Harmon said she’d listen. She never has. She’s snubbed citizens and five former council members for merely disagreeing with her. She even stormed out of her own political club in a fury that would shame the Queen of Hearts.
Harmon said she would deal with climate change. Yet where is her concern for the drastic impacts of climate change on our water supply while she busily gives away our water to developers and billing us while at it?
Our committee started looking for candidates who’d respect our quality-of-life issues. What we came up with were greatly qualified candidates: Keith Gurnee for mayor and James Lopes for council, both proven leaders with solid credentials in planning and civic engagement, and Sarah Flickinger for council, a local mom and proven civic activist and environmentalist, and a skilled listener and consensus builder.
Among them, they offer what is missing in action: depth of expertise while Harmon offers ego.
Choose SLO, not Harmon. Vote Gurnee, Flickinger and Lopes.
Bob Shanbrom, San Luis Obispo
Erica Stewart has my vote for SLO Council
A few nights ago, I attended a meet-and-greet with SLO City Council candidate Erica Stewart. I came away very impressed with her intelligence, her extensive civil background experience, her high energy, and her easy, relaxed way of interacting with people. I think Erica Stewart would be a welcome addition to our City Council, and she’s got my vote.
Tom Ogren, San Luis Obispo
‘Natural economic law’ determines housing prices
Can there be any question that a city’s housing affordability is inversely related to the community’s desirability? In other words, the more people want to live in a town, the more expensive will be its housing stock. (I’d love to have tiny pied-à-terre in San Francisco. Why can’t I?)
How, in any significant manner, can this natural economic law be suspended, especially for new residents and younger homemakers, without making SLO less attractive to buyers who come from across the U.S. to live here? Making SLO less desirable would not be difficult: more traffic and gridlock, more pollution and smog (yes, it can happen here due to the ring of hills around the city) and more strident partisanship of any persuasion. It’s that easy… and I hope the we won’t go down that path.
Todd Katz, San Luis Obispo
Harmon’s ‘build baby build’ model is unsustainable
As mayor, Jan Marx was pro “open space” and anti “big development.” Now she’s endorsing Heidi Harmon who proudly stands for the opposite.
City polling for years has shown preservation and protection of open space is the most important goal of residents and the only one they volunteer to pay higher taxes for, yet Harmon has not supported this goal. By contrast, Keith Gurnee’s passion for and accomplishments saving open space are clear. He was pivotal in preserving Bishop’s Peak, has helped preserve 120,000 California acres, and proposes to grow our greenbelt.
Marx complains Gurnee has been in the pocket of developers when most of his career involved helping local governments accomplish their goals, like safer streets for all, including bikes. Marx’s mean characterizations of him are fictions.
Harmon claims to stand for “sustainability,” but her “build baby build” mentality, regardless of consequences, is anything but “sustainable,” giving big developers what they want while destroying world-class farmland and ignoring inadequate water supplies.
Harmon fatigue among voters says it’s time for her to go, just as Marx fatigue ended Marx’s mayoralty.
A long list of former mayors and elected officials support Gurnee; Marx mistakenly supports Harmon, the least competent mayor since 1970. (I’ve known them all.)
Vote for T. Keith Gurnee for Mayor. He’ll keep his promises and be a competent breath of fresh air!
Richard Schmidt, San Luis Obispo
Those who forget the past....
Several times recently I have heard someone say “Anybody but Heidi” in reference to the race for mayor in San Luis Obispo. I would like to remind voters that only a few years ago the phrase was “Anybody but Hillary” and look where that got us.
Bob Vessely, San Luis Obispo
Show some civility, please
Heidi Harmon constantly claims to be the champion of civility. But I didn’t find it civil when she threw down the microphone and stomped out on her opponent at the Progressives’ candidates forum last July. And is there anyone who has been on the receiving end of her shunning for daring to disagree with her? Harmon doesn’t practice what she preaches.
But Heidi aside, let’s look at the incivility of her supporters. The letters penned by former Mayor Jan Marx and former Chamber Director Dave Garth that hurled their unfounded aspersions and nasty invectives at Keith Gurnee have been anything but civil. They must be scared that Gurnee will right the wrongs that this and the previous council have forced upon this community.
Gurnee has publicly pledged to stay above the fray and abide by the civility resolution. In fact, he did so in a very open and honest way at a recent City Council meeting during public comment. It’s ironic that the Harmon camp is attacking him for incivility.
Why don’t Harmon and her supporters make the same pledge and actually stick to it?
Doug Johnston, San Luis Obispo
Erica Stewart is top candidate for SLO Council
Erica A. Stewart is the most qualified, experienced and dedicated candidate for the SLO City Council. She has been actively engaged in the community for decades, long before considering a run for public office. It’s what she does with her free time, it’s who she is. Here are some of the ways in which she’s contributed over the years, in volunteer capacities:
Graduate of Leadership SLO; Advisory Committee to the Women’s Legacy Fund; Chairperson of the Legislative Affairs Committee, SLO Chamber of Commerce; Homeless Services Coordinator, Church of the Nazarene; board member, Goodwill; Friends of Prado; Downtown Association; President of the Cal Poly Alumni Association.
In a professional capacity, Erica has served as chief operating officer of United Way, Human Resources Specialist for SLO County Superior Court and Director of Parent and Student Philanthropy at Cal Poly, to name just a few. She is also a former small business owner.
Erica has already proven her devotion to this community and her aptitude for leadership. Once elected to the City Council, she’ll speak up and advocate for policies that serve ALL residents. I am proud to endorse Erica A. Stewart, and I encourage you to learn more about her policies at voteforerica.com.
Lara Henry, San Luis Obispo
‘It is not easy for me to endorse Keith Gurnee’
For many years, in multiple surveys, creating a greenbelt and preserving and protecting open space and natural lands has been the top priority for San Luis Obispo residents.
The Conservation and Open Space Element states the overarching goal is to protect resources, with a secondary goal of passive recreation where it will not harm the environment.
The current City Council, including the mayor, voted to weaken existing protections and ignore policies set in place.
It is not easy for me to endorse Keith Gurnee. We have been on opposite sides of many issues in the past. But I don’t like the direction the city has taken and I am ready for a change of city leadership.
Keith has taken a strong stand for preservation and protection of open space as well as speaking out for the quality of life of residents in our neighborhoods.
James Lopes has my unconditional support for City Council, and Sarah Flickinger has earned my respect and vote.
Please join me in voting Gurnee for mayor and Lopes and Flickinger for City Council.
Christine Mulholland, San Luis Obispo
Editor’s note: Christine Mulholland is a former SLO City Council member.
Gurnee is using ‘alternate facts’
This letter is in response to Keith Gurnee and his handlers.
SLO County’s population is growing, and economic inequality is at an all-time high. Our mayor and City Council, along with the planning department, are working to find solutions to our housing needs. They are working with the General Plan, along with state laws, as are the county supervisors.
State laws are a vehicle to spur cities and counties around the state to have their planning departments come up with workable solutions to create healthy communities with more density.
Those lacking in compassion and empathy insist, as Mr. Gurnee does, that they are trying to preserve their neighborhoods. Mr. Gurnee is using “alternate (and outdated) facts” to insult those who disagree with him in his resistance to growth. Just read his frequent letters to the editor. They would be funny if they weren’t so offensive and misleading. Name calling is not problem solving, and rage does not create consensus on policies.
Voters who are thinking about the future should vote for Mayor Heidi Harmon. Along with zoning and planning officials, she is doing her best to create a healthy and functional community here in San Luis Obispo that will last into the future.
Scott Jenkins, San Luis Obispo
Former Mayor Jan Marx endorses Harmon, Christianson and Stewart
I understand John Ewan’s wish, as expressed in his Aug. 28 letter to the editor (see below), to see diversity of viewpoints on the San Luis Obispo City Council.
However, I disagree with his conclusion that voting for T. Keith Gurnee for mayor would be the way to achieve that outcome. If voters wish to see a council with more diverse viewpoints, they should vote for Erica Stewart and Carlyn Christianson for City Council. Erica would be the first African-American to serve on our council, and also is a past Cal Poly student body president. Voters who understand the importance of in-depth institutional knowledge, planning expertise, mature judgment, solid support of open space and commitment to neighborhood wellness on council should vote for Carlyn Christianson.
T. Keith Gurnee’s campaign promises that, as mayor, he could single-handedly overturn state housing law and turn back the clock 40 years, to when he was last on council, are pure fiction. Gurnee’s decades-long track record as a professional advocate for developers, his extremist views published in Cal Coast News and his support for Supervisors Compton, Arnold and Peschong give the lie to his claim that he is an environmentalist.
For a well-balanced and diverse council, voters should choose Stewart and Christianson, but beware the false promises of T. Keith Gurnee. Although Heidi Harmon and I disagree on several significant issues, she is true to the city’s General Plan and has my vote.
Jan Marx, San Luis Obispo
Editor’s note: Jan Marx is a former mayor and councilwoman
SLO City Council needs more diverse viewpoints, former councilman says
Our current City Council should be an environmental and community dream team come true. Unfortunately, it is not.
During my eight years on the council, I had the honor to serve with Allen Settle, Dave Romero, Ken Schwartz, Jan Marx, Christine Mulholland and Paul Brown.
These council members brought a history of civic engagement, institutional knowledge, planning experience and diverse viewpoints to council. We didn’t always agree on how to achieve our city’s goals and priorities, yet we were all committed to serving the citizens of SLO.
While I agree with the goals of our city, I believe implementation of those goals is ignoring and threatening many aspects of our community, in particular our neighborhoods. This can be blamed on many factors — the council’s lack of planning experience and institutional knowledge are significant. But, most importantly, the lack of opposing viewpoints being represented on the council, and the great melding of ideas that is brought about by those opposing views, is dumbing down the actions of this council.
Keith Gurnee brings a long history of civic engagement, institutional knowledge, planning experience and diverse viewpoints. Adding a new voice to council membership will provide opportunity for diverse opinion and the shaping of policy that is creative and inclusive, rather than exclusive.
Vote Keith Gurnee for mayor.
John Ewan, San Luis Obispo
Lopes would bring experience and balance to council
This fall, San Luis Obispo voters have a powerful opportunity to add expertise and citizen perspective to the dais at City Hall, a sorely needed voice.
Council candidate James Lopes is a person with 12 appointed/voluntary years on SLO Advisory Bodies representing the views of residents, eight on the Architectural Review Commission and four on the Bicycle Committee. That’s in addition to a degree from Cal Poly and more than 20 years of professional experience in the Planning Department of SLO County.
Back in the day, council members regularly viewed service on Advisory Bodies as pre-requisites for possible elective office. Such service teaches a volunteer to absorb the diverse views reflected by citizens and solidifies the relationship of voter-centered governance to the “agenda” proposed by city staff. Both councils I served on (in the ‘90s and 2010) were totally composed of individuals with advisory know-how.
Elected council service is a sacred trust. Individuals are entrusted to represent the interests of more than 40,000 people. Sincere listening, combined with an educated open mind, is a requirement.
I strongly recommend a vote for James Lopes. He will bring vital experience and balance.
Kathy Smith, San Luis Obispo
Gurnee is the ‘right person at this time’
As a long-time resident — 65 years — with many of my adult children, three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren now residing in San Luis Obispo, I want affordable housing, as well as our admired San Luis Obispo lifestyle, to be available to them.
A few years ago, a letter to the editor was published describing our admired town’s uniqueness. Much of this developed during the many years of Ken Schwartz’s (long-time mayor, city councilman, and father of Mission Plaza) stewardship. She stated he was “the right man at the right time and place.”
We have now seen some loss in this cherished lifestyle in the recent ignoring of the needs and comforts of many of our residents, in spite of their pleas, by the present council.
Since this has occurred under the stewardship of the present mayor, this makes her the “wrong person” at this time.
Keith Gurnee, a long-time local resident, urban planner and former councilman provides the balance to provide for the present and future needs of our beloved city.
Please join me in voting for Keith — the “right person at this time” as mayor of San Luis Obispo.
Dr. Lou Tedone, San Luis Obispo
I’m sticking with Heidi Harmon
I endorse and call for voters to re-elect Heidi Harmon as mayor of SLO. She isn’t perfect, but she’s got good progressive instincts. I do fear she’s fallen into being guided and advised by too many professional Democratic Party political hacks. One really bad move was having no question/answer/comment period at the end of the recent Community Meeting/Conference on Homelessness in SLO. It was like a multi politician/bureaucrat/talking head lecture presentation. Not a good approach, and not progressive.
But compared to the ultraright wing gadfly and “NIMBY on steroids” character running against her — Keith Gurnee — Harmon comes out looking very good indeed. SLO needs the youthful and energetic vision of Heidi, not the old line, elitist, gentry oriented, “get off my lawn” tone of Gurnee. I doubt he even really believes the things he says against development. I think he’s just using it to appeal to voters who pine for the SLO of the 1950s. Development must be sensible and not overpowering, but some development is inevitable and necessary.
Remember that Heidi only won in 2016 by 47 votes. It’s important for all with a progressive outlook to vote in this 2018 election, and for more than just SLO mayor. Many state issues and many candidates on the ballot. Register and vote please.
Jim Griffin, San Luis Obispo
For smart growth, vote Gurnee, Lopes and Flickinger
Sorry, Jim Griffin, but while I voted for Heidi Harmon in order to remove Marx, she has proven herself to be another pro-development “Jan Marx lite.”
You’re exactly right. Harmon is controlled by the Adam Hill political hack side of the Democratic Party whose benefactors are the developers and money grubbers whose mantra of more housing and higher buildings is not in the interest of the citizens but in fattening their own wallets.
We “NIMBYs on steroids” do not pine for SLO of the 1950s, but for the development strategy of the 1980s and 1990s when true progressives controlled growth and staved off the state’s pressure to “cram not plan” our city’s expansion.
Harmon demonstrated her disdain for residents with her vote for the Anholm Bikeway over the objection of most of those residents because she, Gomez and lame duck Rivoire will not have their “we know better than you” ideas questioned.
Keith Gurnee has served two terms on the council before, has a 40-year career as a professional planner and urban designer and is a fellow neighborhood advocate.
Then there’s Harmon’s qualification ....
Vote Gurnee, James Lopes and Sarah Flickinger for smart growth in SLO.
Terry Mohan, San Luis Obispo
Mayor Harmon is a tireless advocate for people and progress
I am delighted to support Heidi Harmon’s re-election as mayor of San Luis Obispo. Mayor Harmon has been tireless in her advocacy for people and progress in San Luis Obispo. She works hard to balance the critical and sometimes conflicting needs of citizens, visitors, local businesses and the environment. I believe she is working in our best interest to assure that San Luis Obispo is a healthy, vibrant, progressive city.
Emily Rosten, San Luis Obispo
Vote for SLO Council incumbents
In response to the letter from Camille K. Small (“Look out — your neighborhood is next”) I certainly hope so.
There is nothing more I would like to see than street parking removed from my neighborhood. This would give all road users, including motorists and cyclists, more room and help minimize conflicts. The street in front of your house is not “yours.” It is “a way or place of whatever nature, publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for vehicular travel.” Every person riding a bicycle has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable the driver of a vehicle. (from the California Vehicle Code).
So, the streets belong to everyone, everywhere, not just in front of their residence. I recently moved from my previous neighborhood on Cerro Romauldo due to the congestion. Too many people, too many cars, too much traffic, unsafe to ride a bicycle and even unsafe to try to pull into my own driveway! So this November, I would encourage people to vote for the incumbents!
Chris Black, San Luis Obispo
Proud to vote for Heidi Harmon
I just recently moved from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo and I am so happy to be able to support and vote for Mayor Heidi Harmon for re-election.
I have never met another city leader who was so engaged with encouraging community participation, listening to all sides and acting with integrity. Heidi is not someone who is beholden to big campaign donors, but rather is someone who is committed to representing her community and helping to take it into the future in a sustainable way.
More than anything, I’m happy that she is someone who inspires and encourages participatory democracy. Being a community leader who has fought for the environment and a mom who has lived in this city, has roots here and has made her life here, we all benefit from her committed leadership. Women like her and like Dawn Addis who is running for Morro Bay City Council are going to change this county for the better as they truly represent their communities.
Julie Zafiratos, San Luis Obispo
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