Credit: Erica Stewart | Courtesy

Eight months ago, Erica Stewart was unanimously appointed as mayor by the San Luis Obispo City Council after former mayor Heidi Harmon stepped down. The appointment helped the city avoid a special election that could have cost up to $200,000.

Now, Stewart, who is the first Black mayor in San Luis Obispo’s 145-year history, is officially running for mayor for the 2022 election.

Stewart announced her campaign on Instagram and at San Luis Obispo City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s a real thing — I’m running for mayor,” Stewart said during her announcement.

Stewart’s current mayoral term ends this December.

The statewide primary election will take place on June 7. The general election is Nov. 8.

In her speech at City Hall, Stewart emphasized the importance of the community’s ability to have civil conversations about certain issues and have trust in one another.

“The work that I’ve seen us do is because we work together and we work through things that are tough and difficult,” Stewart said. “And I expect to continue that as mayor.” 

She said she appreciated the “great variety of people” who have supported her.

“I wanna have this be a city where everyone knows they’re welcome no matter who they are,” Stewart said, pointing out that Wednesday marks the beginning of Pride Month. 

Stewart also talked about two major issues facing the city and state overall: water conservation amid a drought and job growth. She says the city powered through a lot of local hardship during the pandemic, proving that we can excel now. 

“One of our major goals for the city is 20% multi-modal transportation,” Stewart’s campaign website reads. “I will advocate for electric-vehicle charging stations, bike-share programs, and other traffic-congestion options.”

She also advocates for San Luis Obispo to continue its goals of becoming a “net-zero” carbon city. She would like to see “more water conservation methods,” an increase in bus and rideshare use and safer bike routes to encourage the city’s residents to use cleaner energy.

Stewart is endorsed by all of her fellow city council members.

As an undergraduate at Cal Poly, Stewart created the first professor rating system, according to Mustang News. She returned to San Luis Obispo after receiving a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. She previously worked as the assistant director of personnel and marketing for the Cal Poly Health Center and was elected to the City Council in 2018.

Jackie Espitia contributed reporting to this article.