About 100 people gathered at City Hall Monday, Dec. 3 to see San Luis Obispo history in the making as the first-ever majority-female city council was sworn in.
Mayor Heidi Harmon and Councilmembers Erica Stewart and Carlyn Christianson were sworn in by City Clerk Teresa Purrington, making the San Luis Obispo City Council four-fifths female for the first time.
Although Harmon and Christanson were incumbents, Stewart is a first-time councilmember and the first Black person to serve on the council.
“There’s not enough women in office. We have to be the ones; this generation, we have to be part of making a change,” Stewart said. “We need people who care, people who are willing to learn. And if we don’t, who will?”
According to the Center for American Women and Politics, 25.4 percent of state legislature is composed of women.
“Having a primarily female council is great. It’s almost perfect,” Harmon said. “Coming from the feminine — whatever body that actually comes in — is really needed in life in general, but especially in politics.”
Councilmember Aaron Gomez is the only remaining man on the council.
“Now we’re seeing this transition into a new era,” Gomez said. “When you see people in positions like this, it just leads by example.”
The meeting also served as a farewell to Councilmember Dan Rivoire, whose seat on the council was replaced by Stewart.
Rivoire, who did not run for re-election in November, received a standing ovation and positive public comments. He served on the Climate Action Plan group for the Chamber of Commerce and advocated for bicycles in the city.
“If it weren’t for an incredible candidate Erica Stewart stepping up and expressing her interest, I probably would have been a lot more nervous stepping down,” Rivoire said. “I’m really excited for the direction our community is going in.”
During Harmon’s second term as mayor, she said she plans on addressing housing and affordability in San Luis Obispo, which is one of the most expensive cities to live in in the United States.
“We will be able to get a lot accomplished in the next two years with the council that we just installed,” Harmon said.