The race for San Luis Obispo Mayor will be on the ballot for the November 8th Midterm Election. Incumbent, Erica Stewart, will have three challengers: Richard Orcutt, Jeffrey Specht, and Donald Hedrick.
In October of 2021, Erica Stewart was appointed mayor after Heidi Harmon stepped down. Stewart was a city council member at the time, and now, she will enter her first election as incumbent mayor of San Luis Obispo. Stewart says homelessness, hiring and retention of quality employees in the city, and increasing affordable housing are pillars of her platform.
“Voting for me is looking at all of the efforts we're doing, making these big changes, but with someone who is actually going to communicate with people,” said Stewart. "Whether I agree or disagree, I will listen, and we may not go that way. I will hear the important parts of what you’re trying to say, pass it on to my colleagues and staff on the council, and figure out how we can make compromise.”
Jeffrey Specht, an entrepreneur and lifetime resident of San Luis Obispo, is running for mayor, a position he ran for in 2014. Specht says he would stand up to the board of supervisors, help address the homelessness issue, and create more affordable housing.
“I'll tell you why I should be mayor; I'm a fighter. I won’t give up with my last breath. I will fight for my community to do what's right. I won't resign,” said Specht. “I'll say what is on my mind - what most people need to be doing. People are afraid to say what's on their mind anymore.”
Richard Orcutt, a retired City of San Luis Obispo Fire Department firefighter, is running for mayor for the first time. Orcutt says there are several problems he would address if elected mayor, including free parking downtown.
“We need to stop. We need to change. The path the city's been on/is on,” said Orcutt. “The issues are agreed upon by all parties: homelessness, street crime, the decline of our downtown, lack of affordable housing, spending that's - I'll call it out of control.”
Donald Hedrick, a welder in San Luis Obispo, is running for San Luis Obispo Mayor for the 7th time. Hedrick thinks the officials in office now aren’t listening to what voters want.
“I want to represent the people. We have a diversity of people in our world here, but what we don't have is a diversity in the people elected to our government,” said Hedrick. “They have no compulsion to honor the commitment to the people. They instead represent more of an enamoring with the special interest, big monies from faraway places.”
Orcutt was arrested in 2019 for alleged hate crimes, but those charges were dropped following an investigation.