Incumbent Heidi Harmon leads the race for mayor with 11,619 votes, which is about 53% of city ballots counted so far. Local business owner Cherisse Sweeney follows with 7,317 votes — about 33% of the vote, the county released in a Nov. 6 election summary report.
Harmon was elected in 2016 and has served two terms as mayor.
“I am grateful that [the community’s] faith and trust has been reaffirmed in me,” Harmon said.
If elected, Harmon told Mustang News in October that she would focus on COVID-19 recovery, climate action and diversity and equity.
Under Harmon’s leadership, San Luis Obispo adopted a plan to be carbon-neutral by 2035, and switched to the carbon-free energy provider Central Coast Community Energy.
Harmon attended many of the Black Lives Matter protests, and declared racism a public health emergency in June. In September, the city started a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce to address racial inequality in San Luis Obispo.
“Just know that your voice, your actions, your participation, absolutely make a difference and can absolutely make this community better and this world better,” Harmon said.
Harmon said she was originally inspired to run for mayor to make the city a better place for her children and the younger generation of San Luis Obispo.
“When you’re building a city, you’re building it for the future,” Harmon said. “I want to make sure I’m doing everything that I can to create a more fair, just and thriving community for the next generation.”
As of now, the county clerk recorder needs to count 4,982 more ballots for the city of San Luis Obispo, and more vote-by-mail ballots may arrive next week.
With so few ballots left to count, a Sweeney victory is unlikely.
Sweeney owns Basalt Interiors, an interior design business in downtown San Luis Obispo. If elected, Sweeney’s priorities will be public safety, affordable housing, addressing homelessness and economic recovery.
Sweeney did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
Longtime resident Sandra Marshall-Eminger follows Sweeney with about 12% of votes, and local artisan and harbinger Donald Hedrick trails with about 1.5% of the votes.
Votes for Mayor
Andy Pease and Jan Marx lead the race for San Luis Obispo’s two open city council seats.
Andy Pease received about 24% of votes counted so far.
Pease has served on city council for four years, and is running for a second four-year term.
“I’m really excited, I’m really grateful, this has been a big race with a lot of really smart people with innovative ideas [who] care about the city, so I feel really honored to have earned the confidence of the community again,” Pease told Mustang News on election night.
If elected, Pease said her priority will be economic recovery in the wake of COVID-19. She will also focus on housing and homelessness, climate action and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Pease is an architect and founded the local business In Balance Green Consulting, which helps architects, engineers and developers build eco-friendly buildings.
Jan Marx follows Pease with about 20% of the votes.
Marx was the third female mayor of the city and served for six years. She also served as a city council member for six years.
“Jan has really important experience that we need, she’s a former mayor and an attorney,” Pease said. “She’s also really forward thinking, she’s a leader in climate action, and she’s been really supportive of diversity and inclusion.”
Marx is now a professor and Campus Dean of the San Luis Obispo College of Law.
Marx’s priorities are climate action, preserving open space, managing the city’s budget and helping the city recover economically from COVID-19.
“We need to plan about how to get out of the pandemic and how to go to the next stage,” Marx said.
Marx also said she wants to help the city continue developing a positive relationship with students.
Abrianna Torres follows closely behind Marx with about 18% of votes counted.
“The measure of success I’m talking about isn’t whether I’m on the city council or not, but rather did I and my team stay true to ourselves and our values, was our campaign run with integrity and honesty and with the best of our ability,” Torres said. “I think absolutely yes to all of those.”
Torres is a small business consultant, and served as a Correctional Deputy for the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department for two years after graduating college.
Torres focused her platform on public health, public safety and economic recovery.
Torres said she wants to focus “empowerment” when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, and said she is “troubled” by the recent popularity of the acronym “ACAB” — meaning “All Cops Are Bad.”
“Demanding inclusion while vomiting hateful rhetoric is just silly,” Torres wrote on her website. “This should not be a ‘whose side are we on’ debate but rather a ‘how can we work together’ conversation.”
Votes for Two City Council Seats
James Papp follows Torres with 11.48% of votes, and Kelly Evans received 11.14% of votes.
Robin Wolf has 5.8% of votes for city council, Erik Long follows closely with 5.67% of votes and Jeffrey Specht finished last with 4.25% of votes.
Hailey Nagama and Adam Birder contributed to this story.