Candidates for San Luis Obispo Mayor and City Council spoke in front of a packed crowd Tuesday night. They participated in a forum moderated by the League of Women Voters.
The mayoral candidates voters will see on their ballots in November include current San Luis Obispo mayor Heidi Harmon and challengers Keith Gurnee and Donald Hedrick.
All three spoke at Tuesday’s forum.
"I’m going to continue to advocate for greater affordability and to collaborate with Cal Poly to get more student housing on campus. I will continue to create sound policies that address the realities of our changing climate, and I will continue to advocate for protection and access to our beautiful open space. I will continue to be engaged with our business community to remain economically resilient as we approach the closure of Diablo Canyon. I will continue to listen to the needs of our community and work tirelessly to help create a better future for all of us. SLO is a wonderful place, and a lot has gone into making this city what it is," said Mayor Harmon.
Both challengers said they aren’t happy with the current direction the city is going.
"If you want 75-foot tall buildings, if you want exclusive bike lanes rammed through your neighborhoods, if you want no parking constraints in the downtown area, don’t vote for me. But if you want somebody with a vision for our community, with the experience of working with local government to take our city forward, with the compassion for our people and our neighborhoods, vote for me," said Keith Gurnee.
"I fell in love with our town, and I would like to serve it for the betterment. We are way too dependent on staff to give us these agendas, but what we would like to do is to defend our town with diversity of viewpoints and make more innovative solutions to the problems that face our town," said Donald Hedrick.
City Council candidates also spoke about their goals for the city. Candidates include current councilmember Carlyn Christianson, as well as James Lopes, Erica Stewart, Abe Lincoln, Robert "Bob" Voglin, Sarah Flickinger, and Jeffrey Specht.
"My family has always had community service as a strong value. I’m thrilled to have goals for the city on housing, transportation, climate action and energy use, as well as fiscal responsibility and neighborhood quality, including our downtown," said current City Councilwoman Carlyn Christianson.
"I want to bring our diverse community together and engage in how to honor the very assets which made us famous, while meeting the needs of different groups. We need to protect and preserve the quality of life for residents in our neighborhoods by promoting peace, safety, and healthy living," said James Lopes.
"This is a nonpartisan position as you all know. I have wonderful supporters on the conservative side, as well as the liberal side. My views are vast, and I plan to bring all of your views to the City Council," said Erica Stewart.
"I spend time focused on helping people without insurance get health care. My focus here, and the reason I decided to run, is around social issues," said Abe Lincoln.
"I embrace the quote ‘service is the rent we pay for our room on earth.’ I will bring passion, my strong ethics, and positive attitude to the City Council. I will work hard to address the main challenges and help redirect some of the changes happening in our town," said Robert "Bob" Voglin.
"I’m here because I’m committed to serving the people and place that are San Luis Obispo. Throughout my 20 years living in the city, I’ve seen a lot of change. Change is important, and it is constant, but in our democracy and our city, how we change is up to us. How we change matters, and it matters to people, and to the environment, and to this place that we call home," said Sarah Flickinger.
"I’ve watched a lot of changes over the years. I’m quite disturbed, especially over the past 10 years. I’m concerned with the direction that our city is going. It is why I stepped up and decided to run for city council. I ran for mayor in 2014 for the very same reasons. I’m very concerned with the corruption and the direction in general that our city is going. I believe that people are bowing down to staff and big developers. The will of the people is not being served. We need to start listening to the voice of the people and carrying out the will of the people," said Jeffrey Specht.