Letters to the Editor

Readers weigh in on SLO mayor, council races

In SLO Council race, Erica Stewart stands out

There are seven people running for SLO City Council and six are new to politics. Among them, Erica A. Stewart is a standout. She is a long-time resident, works in SLO and has volunteered extensively for our community.

Erica has abundant energy and has the skills and personality to bring consensus to the City Council. If elected, she will be very effective and will work hard to build a stronger and healthier San Luis Obispo.

On the ballot, Erica’s name is listed last for SLO City Council, but in my estimation she’s first!

Please vote for Erica A. Stewart on or before Nov. 6.

Susan Devine, San Luis Obispo

SLO mayor: It’s been an honor to serve

As your mayor, I have been honored to serve you. In my first term, I had the opportunity to hear from residents in letters, at City Council meetings, in the 25 neighborhood walks we organized throughout the city and the nearly dozen pop-up democracy gatherings around town on current topics. We walked and biked to school together and we shared meals in community-wide potlucks.

If re-elected, one of my top priorities is to strengthen connection and collaborative problem solving. We won’t always agree on the direction of every project, but I believe we all care deeply about San Luis Obispo as our home and our diverse opinions create better solutions.

When we meet at the table with our ideas and an openness to learn from one another, we can create the kind of community that is resilient and caring. San Luis Obispo has long benefited from constructive leadership and an engaged community; I believe that is what we need to continue to thrive.

Together we can continue to prioritize the people we love, the planet we cherish and work towards a shared prosperity. Together we can protect what is special about this place while we create the future we want.

Heidi Harmon, San Luis Obispo

There are seven people running for SLO City Council and six are new to politics. Among them, Erica A. Stewart is a standout. She is a long-time resident, works in SLO and has volunteered extensively for our community.

Erica has abundant energy and has the skills and personality to bring consensus to the City Council. If elected, she will be very effective and will work hard to build a stronger and healthier San Luis Obispo.

On the ballot, Erica’s name is listed last for SLO City Council, but in my estimation she's first!

Please vote for Erica A. Stewart on or before Nov. 6.

Trio for a better SLO

Keith Gurnee, James Lopes and Sarah Flickinger have my votes for mayor of San Luis Obispo and City Council, respectively.

We need intelligent, healthy, financially solvent individuals in office who have integrity and experience with planning. These three dedicated citizens have those qualities!

As a trio, I know they will provide leadership while being civil and inclusive. They will be fiscally responsible in regard to our city budget. All three will preserve the character of SLO and foster a positive relationship with all residents.

As a lifetime Democrat, I believe voters need to remember these positions at the city level are nonpartisan. Regardless of any national and state political issues, what is at stake here is our quality of life.

As a previous council candidate, teacher, and active community volunteer, I still attend City Council and advisory meetings often. I voted for Mayor Harmon in 2016 with great hopes. Unfortunately, she has failed her constituents in many ways, multiple times.

Our city can gracefully experience a metamorphosis with Gurnee, Lopes, and Flickinger in their sought-after elected positions.

Please join me on November 6 and mark your ballots for a better SLO!

Mila Vujovich-Barre, San Luis Obispo

Vote for Heidi and Carlyn

When we moved here 30 years ago, everyone wanted to move to San Luis Obispo for “it’s way of life.”

Now that we are all here, we need to plan for the future of the city and not live in the past. Please join me in voting for Carlyn Christianson for City Council and Heidi Harmon for mayor. Carlyn, Heidi and the current City Council are working on a plan for future growth, livability and sustainability. The Council is working with decisions made in the past, to move the city forward for all citizens. Please vote for Heidi and Carlyn. Please be sure to vote, this is a very important election for us all.

John K. Thomas, San Luis Obispo

Trib’s endorsements for SLO City Council

I support The Tribune’s endorsement of James Lopes for San Luis Obispo City Council. James Lopes had a long career as a land use planner for San Luis Obispo County. I’ve been acquainted with him for over 30 years in various land-use issues related to both the county and city of San Luis Obispo.

James Lopes has a balanced approach to San Luis Obispo city issues. For example, he favors further protections of open space, and protection of the downtown, but he also advocates newer approaches to providing housing, for example, mixing commercial and residential uses. All those “seas of asphalt” at Big Box stores could be utilized not just for parking but also for integrated land uses such as condominiums or apartments.

For mayor, I support Heidi Harmon. She has a good grasp of the most significant issues in San Luis Obispo, including housing affordability, open space, environmental stewardship, fiscal responsibility and local jobs. Mr. Gurnee’s “solutions” presented on his website seem mostly vague and infeasible. For example, he advocates substantial new housing at Cal Poly, without knowing if enough water is available or if such housing would translate into more open-market housing in existing neighborhoods.

Michael Sullivan, San Luis Obispo

Listen to SLO’s former mayors; vote Gurnee

The Tribune has recently published letters from two former mayors of San Luis Obispo, David Romero and Kenneth Schwartz. Both are honest and trustworthy human beings, and our city has been well served for many years by their work and their contributions. I was and am a proud supporter of Mayor Schwartz and happily voted for him when he was a candidate. Mr. Romero was our city engineer for many years, and although I was not always in agreement with his political views, I do consider him a friend who made thoughtful and caring decisions while serving our city.

Both these gentlemen agree strongly that the candidate best qualified now to be our next mayor is Keith Gurnee. They know the city and the issues, and they agree on who should govern it. That’s good enough for me. Vote with us. Vote for Keith Gurnee!

Valerie Endres, San Luis Obispo

Yes on Harmon and Measure G; no on Prop 6

I agree with other community members that Heidi Harmon it the best candidate for mayor. Mayor Harmon and the City Council are working diligently to address our housing shortage, climate change and many other issues. I oppose the Anholm bike plan as it’s now planned, but I support the progress the mayor and council have been making. We need smart housing.

Reading T. Keith Gurnee’s letters and seeing him in debates, it’s always the same tactic, the bully plays the victim, and then condescendingly bullies his opponents. I know some of TKG’s handlers, along with the alt-right, online tabloid, CCN, that distributes Gurnee’s alt-facts and conspiracy theories. Gurnee and his backers’ policies are based more on vendettas and greed than on facts. Gurnee and his handlers are very Trumpian, indeed.

We all wish we could go back to the 1970s. But that’s not possible. We must work for a sustainable future, and an efficient and healthy community. Working for a healthy community is superior to selfishness for selfishness’ sake, with condescending division, and falsehoods.

Vote for Heidi Harmon, yes on Measure G and no on Proposition 6, the infrastructure tax repeal. Vote like your life depends on it, because it does.

Scott Jenkins, San Luis Obispo

I’m for Gurnee, says former SLO mayor

I have known Keith Gurnee since the 1970s when he was a student at Cal Poly and I was one of his professors.

He was a strong student and politically active and successful in serving on the City Council. Keith was a person who has a good vision for the future and wanted to keep the city land use policies that would preserve neighborhoods, parks and reliable city services.

Keith will distinguish himself upon election to the office of mayor as he can work with community groups. He is accessible, accountable and will reach out to all citizens to serve their concerns. Further, he can have good working relations with other members on the City Council and city staff. Consequently, I endorse him to serve as our next mayor.

Allen K. Settle, San Luis Obispo

Join us in voting for Heidi

We have lived in San Luis Obispo for 35 years, and have worked on many issues, including creation of the Performing Arts Center, the Damon Garcia sports fields and the Homeless Services Center at 40 Prado.

We have learned through our experiences that most problems are complex and have many different — but connected — parts. All parts have to be given a voice and thoughtfully considered, and all parts have to be weighted. Heidi Harmon understands this.

This election seems to pivot on urban growth, but for Heidi it is much more than that. She understands that urban growth is a tangled problem that includes traffic, parking, density, economic vitality, affordable housing and probably other aspects we have failed to mention. To reduce this issue to a campaign slogan of “growth” or “no growth” not only fails to address or define the complexity of the issue, but worse, it also sets up a battleground of “for and against” that creates nothing but wounded warriors. It certainly doesn’t create a wonderful community that listens to and grows from its diversity.

Vote for Heidi.

Deb Spatafore, San Luis Obispo

Harmon understands what it means to be mayor

A mayor’s job is not to impose the ideas of a small constituency because he agrees with them.

Heidi understands it’s her job to listen to the majority of constituents — not just the ones who organize at City Council meetings.

A mayor’s job is not to tout expertise on every subject, nor display contentious qualities that make consensus impossible. Heidi understands her job is to seek the advice of a well-respected staff and show admiration for the capabilities of her fellow council members, whether she agrees with them or not, trying to reach consensus whenever possible.

A mayor’s job is not to give cursory attention to a subject about which he has already made up his mind. Heidi understands her job is to embrace the complexity of issues and engage in deep, thoughtful consideration of all the connected points.

Heidi Harmon understands that deliberation, rather than confrontation, brings out the best in our community.

John Spatafore, San Luis Obispo

Yes to Measure G, Heidi Harmon

I wish we could make SLO great again like it was in the good old days of the ‘70s for me. My Vietnam veteran husband and I were able to live on the GI bill ($350 per month), rent downtown, buy food, work part time and go to Cal Poly part time while biking safely to school.

I am not a fan of the proposed Anholm Bike Path, it’s a step in the right direction yet hopefully it can be tweaked to be of more favorable to the neighborhood.

Now to 2018, more cars, more people, Cal Poly housing at 22 Chorro?

If that complex were worker housing, it might be easier to accept graciously, yet that complex added to an already very congested intersection! I thought Cal Poly was going to house more students on campus?

Even though the way forward may be bumpy and uncertain, I don’t believe this is the time to step back to some perceived safety of Keith Gurnee, nor should we continue to support expanded extraction of fossil fuels.

Let’s continue to move forward together, safer roads, cleaner transportation, cleaner air, affordable housing, etc

So yes on G and Heidi Harmon for mayor.

Michele Brooks, San Luis Obispo

Gurnee would serve all of SLO

I am asking my friends and neighbors to vote for Keith Gurnee for mayor of San Luis Obispo.

I first met Keith Gurnee as a City Council member and a Cal Poly student. Keith was hosting a meet-and-greet for a candidate for an unrelated public office. This candidate was the most liberal individual I had ever met. I asked Keith to discuss the views of his candidate. Keith surprised me. He talked about the city of San Luis Obispo, the needs, tasks he was involved in, and suggested that I become involved in city business. I did. Thanks to Keith’s suggestion, I have been on five city commissions over these past 40+ years.

Through my commission work, I met many council members and mayors. I liked all. Most had constituencies, such as downtown businesses, environmental, more housing, less housing, etc. I can state without reservation that Keith’s constituency, similar to that of former mayor Ken Schwartz, is San Luis Obispo. The city — not specific groups.

We all will gain from the experience and skills that Keith will bring to the City. Vote for Keith Gurnee for mayor.

Rick May, San Luis Obispo

Harmon makes caring visible

San Luis Obispo is very fortunate to have Heidi Harmon as their mayor. I’ve seen many campaigning mayors and truth be told, that’s the last time I see them. Mayor Harmon, however, has maintained her visibility since elected. She is very much out and about and has a deep understanding of what the issues are for the city and the people who live, learn and work in San Luis Obispo.

She is surrounded by politicians, city leaders and individuals who care. Mayor Harmon has made the time to get to know us and pushes us to go for the best in what we want and who we are. Heidi Harmon is accomplished, and walks in a path of gratitude. With me living in Arroyo Grande and working every day for 23 years in San Luis Obispo at Cal Poly, I support Mayor Harmon’s re-election. Her style is far-reaching and influential. I am a big champion of keeping San Luis Obispo visible in its caring leadership and center of all things good.

Preston Allen, Arroyo Grande

This time, I’m voting for Gurnee

Two years ago, I voted for Heidi Harmon even though I saw she had no knowledge of city government.

I later had to recognize that being mayor is not a job one can learn on the spot, and I am distressed with the direction the city has taken on many issues, especially regarding our natural preserves and our neighborhoods. Being green means protecting them, not trashing them, but Harmon has voted to allow night hiking and biking on Cerro San Luis, and separate bike lanes in old neighborhoods with narrow streets.

On the other hand, I am still waiting for separate bike lanes on Foothill Boulevard or California, where they are truly needed. I am also waiting for the council to confront the problem of unfunded pensions, developments without infrastructure and tall buildings that are destroying the character of our city. Harmon promised she would listen to residents, but she has turned a deaf ear to any argument that does not fit with her ideology. This time, I will vote for someone who has a solid record of serving the city, and a plan to solve the numerous issues the city has been facing. I will vote for Keith Gurnee.

Odile Ayral, San Luis Obispo

Former Mayor Dave Romero endorses Gurnee

I first met Keith Gurnee in the late 1960s when he was a student in an engineering course I taught at Cal Poly. He was one of the top students in the class, earning an “A” in a demanding, difficult course.

I served as a city department head during the two four-year terms Keith served on the City Council in the 1970s. During that time, the city started the city bus system and the first bike routes and lanes, improved the outlet to Laguna Lake to reduce the flooding risk to the neighborhood and made additional improvements to Sinsheimer Park. The city also improved the wastewater plant and the water treatment plant, improved Mission Plaza, widened arterial streets and approved many subdivisions to meet the demand for housing.

As a councilmember, Keith was always well-prepared and presented moderate and practical solutions for city problems. With his background in city planning, Keith will continue to bring his expert knowledge to all challenges faced by the city.

I believe Keith Gurnee is well qualified to be an excellent mayor, and wholeheartedly endorse him.

Dave Romero, San Luis Obispo

Editor’s note: Dave Romero was the mayor of San Luis Obispo from 2002-2010.

It’s Gurnee who doesn’t understand

I think Keith Gurnee, himself, has “no understanding” of what Heidi Harmon is trying to do. Global warming is the most significant problem we face, and she is addressing that issue on a local level by such things as encouraging more bicycle lanes and more low-cost housing within the city. Heidi Harmon is forward-thinking, preparing us for a future that will be upon us.

Sherry Lewis, San Luis Obispo

Gurnee is knowledgeable and fair

During political years, it’s not unusual to see name calling and hateful speech across our nation. However, that’s not often happened with such intensity and vitriol in local issues or races.

Now we see this same illness infecting San Luis Obispo, which is a shame. Where did our “Happiest City in the U.S.” go? How did we lose that spirit? I have been involved in many local campaigns, but never before witnessed such ugly diatribes and personal attacks as have recently appeared. Have we really devolved to such a level?

I strongly support candidates who run on local issues, and those who know and respect our history. I served with Keith Gurnee on the SLO Planning Commission in 1995, and found him to be knowledgeable in city matters and fair in his decisions.

In this mayoral race, I stand firmly with Keith Gurnee.

Dodie Williams, former councilwoman, San Luis Obispo

Support SLO Council

Candidates for office always promise change. Heidi Harmon and Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson have worked hard to fight state-mandated intrusion and control. They listen to our citizens. They approved the beautiful Bank of America building and many workforce housing projects with smaller square footage, affordable housing and accessory buildings. They work with Cal Poly every year to find solutions for on-campus living. They support the city staff’s efforts to bring attractive, smart growth to our city. Support them with your vote in November.

Christie Withers, San Luis Obispo

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

Read Next

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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