Incumbent Heidi Harmon leads the race for mayor with 12,382 votes, which is about 52.47% of counted ballots, while local business owner Cherisse Sweeney follows with 8,364 votes — 34.2% of counted ballots, the county released in a Nov. 9 election summary report.
So far, 84.99% of registered voters cast their ballot this election. The county will continue to count vote-by-mail ballots as they arrive, so they turnout is expected to be even higher.
Harmon is 4,470 ballots ahead of Sweeney. As of now, there are 942 ballots left to count for the city of SLO, though more vote-by-mail ballot continue to arrive.
Even though a Harmon victory is likely, she said, “it’s really incumbent on people running for office to honor the electoral process and ensure that every vote is counted before any of us make a claim that we have won or not.”
Harmon has served as San Luis Obispo’s mayor for four years and is running for her third two-year term.
“We’ve done a lot in the past four years so I feel proud and protective of that good work and didn’t want to step away when some of the folks that were running, I felt, were not in alignment with the values that I share.” Harmon said.
If elected mayor, Harmon will make history a a member of San Luis Obispo’s first all-women council.
“I feel honored and it feels right to me to be leading the first all female city council in our city’s history,” Harmon said. “It’s important for people to know that only 20% of elected offices across the United States are held by women. So the fact that in our community we will have 100% of our local offices held by women is something that I think we can all be proud of.”
Harmon is endorsed by Congressman Salud Carbajal, State Senator Bill Monning, and the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Party. See her full list of endorsements here.
Harmon said that she plans to focus on COVID-19 recovery, climate action and diversity and equity if elected.
Harmon said she has been working hard on helping the community recover from COVID-19, however, she is calling on students and younger people in the community to recognize the important role that they play in COVID-19 prevention.
“I’m hoping that students recognize the serious nature of this and that they will do a better job of protecting themselves and protecting our community against our numbers which are rising quite rapidly right now,” Harmon said.
Harmon has been active in local movements fighting for racial justice, and has has declared equity a main priority for the city. Under Harmon’s leadership, the city started a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Taskforce in September.
“I’m proud to have stood in alignment with racial justice and I’m hopeful that we can do some significant work around that issue moving forward here in our community,” Harmon said.
If elected, Sweeney said she plans to focus on public health and safety, economic vitality and inclusivity if elected. See Sweeney’s full plan here.
Sweeney is endorsed by former SLO City Councilmen Dan Carpenter and former candidate Mike Clark, according to her campaign website.
Sweeney is a land use consultant, and small business owner and has been an interior designer for the past 20 years, her website said.
Sweeney did not respond to requests for comment.
Andy Pease and Jan Howell Marx are leading the city council race, with 23.65% of the vote and 19.48% of the vote, respectively. If the race is called in their favor there will be the first ever all women city council in San Luis Obispo.