Reflecting on the SLO mayor’s race

November 11, 2018
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


When I announced my candidacy for mayor of San Luis Obispo on May 13, I thought I had a chance. As it works out, it looks like it wasn’t meant to be.

The morning after election night, I communicated with Mayor Harmon and congratulated her on her victory. Given her statement last night that she wanted to “bring the community together,” that needs to happen. Whether she can make it happen remains to be seen, but I hope she’ll try.

I thought that my previous experience on the SLO City Council and my decades of experience as a planner and urban designer would have given me a leg up. Our message was a good one: growth in character with our historic community, protecting our neighborhoods, expanding and protecting our open spaces, and getting Cal Poly to build more student housing on-campus.

We also populated our website with specific positions and solutions to the issues to keep voters informed of what I proposed to do if I were to be elected mayor. I’m still confident it was the right thing to do.

But we need to realize that the results of Nov. 6 hammered home that SLO County Supervisor Adam Hill, Mayor Heidi Harmon, and SLO County Progressive’s leader Nick Andre have become a local political machine. In addition to the mayor’s races in SLO, Morro Bay, Grover Beach, and Arroyo Grande, they appear to have carried seats on the City Councils of each of those same cities. The only thing they didn’t win was Measure G. Nonetheless, that machine has now become a force to be reckoned with, whether we like it or not.

On an “up” note, I was proud of the campaign we ran. Reconnecting with old friends and meeting so many new friends who share my love of this town was a treasure to me. We ran a well-organized, robust, and clean campaign and we kept our pledge to remain “civil” and above the fray. Our campaign was small-town neighbor-to-neighbor politics at its best.

While I was counseled by some to go negative, I refused to do so. Going negative is what paid political consultants and political machines engage in. Unfortunately, the nastiness of my opponent’s campaign proved once again that negative campaigning works. But I did not want to win that way, and I am proud that we kept our promise.

To all of those who helped walking the precincts, who worked on organizing the campaign, who did our great graphics, who put up our campaign signs, who wrote letters, who contributed financially, and who raised and managed our campaign funds, I can’t thank you enough! And to the individuals, former elected officials, community organizations, and the SLO Firefighters-Local 3523 that endorsed my candidacy, I was truly honored to receive your support.

While this was my last political race, I won’t be going away anytime soon. In running for mayor, I tried to do the right thing by our community. I tried to protect what San Luis Obispo has been, but it appears that a very different course is being charted for our future.

San Luis Obispo is on the brink of losing itself. While we shouldn’t let that happen, it will be a steep hill to climb. But climb it we must if we are to save our town.

Again, to those who supported me, a sincere and heartfelt thank you. To those who didn’t, thanks for exercising your right to vote and let’s see what the future brings. As for me, it’s onto the next chapter…

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For those who live in San Luis Obispo, the County Seat, and the SLOCOG beneficiaries, everyone, the opportunity to have Keith Gurnee as the new Mayor of San Luis Obispo is an opportunity missed.

You are the winner … you, in a positive manner, highlighted issues that need to be addressed if our special place, San Luis Obispo, is to be preserved. You also highlighted what will be required to replace Adam Hill should he decide to run again. Those of us who care will need to participate. We need to create an army of volunteers who knock on doors, proudly display lawn signs, contribute a dollar or two to a well qualified candidate.

Politicians and their supporters have unfortunately become the dirtiest of scum among us who will do anything to keep their power.  Because of what the process has become, very few decent people will ever run for an elected office. 

Sad but true.

Dear Mr. Gurnee.

Thank you for running for Mayor. Your efforts were obvious. After listening to all of the debates which were available to view, I found Mayor Heidi Harmon to be the better, more informed, level-headed, best-prepared candidate. I am glad that San Luis Obispo saw the same and knew what is best for our city. I don’t know why your side was pointing the finger at Harmon for the current construction which is now occurring in our downtown. Those of us with any intelligence knows that it is impossible to get a project approved and started in the short time Harmon has been Mayor. These current projects were approved by our past City Council and Urban Planners long before Harmon became Mayor. Weren’t you apart of these decisions for these 4 story high rises? Lastly, while it appear that most of the political signs from last week have all been taken down, I see an abundance Mr. Gurnee’s signs still all over Higuera, empty fields and non-residential areas. It was a great race, Mr. Gurnee. You can be proud.

Well, Gurnee was the BEST person in all ways, ethically, experientially, community standing, family, intellectually…but he proved one thing clearly to me…Harmon’s skillset really is story-telling, singing to toddlers, orating utopian visions, bicycle riding, New Age art, providing a cranial foundation for fake flowers and potlucks. But the intellectual executive functions required in multi level civic planning, crafting complex compromise and being “quick on the draw” so to speak are absent. The skillset to get elected sadly these days rarely intercepts with the skillset to lead.

Thank you for running TKG…they were frightened by you… they quietly spun your age, assisted by the pseudo-intelligentsia at the Trib as a negative as well. You ran an honorable race. Jan Marx endorsed her, but that was weak and I wonder what they promised her? I know for fact Marx was quite negative on Harmon. In fact many inside the Dem party do not see Harmon as a team player at all. She has egotistical aspirations to be “somebody” and continues to use those utopian exhortations. Really people, “People, Planet, Prosperity” for a local small town race? Her ego and narcissism will be her downfall as these types tend to have profound amounts of personal dysfunction ( rants, thin skin, short temper, shunning others). Her next challenger will arise from her own ranks and watch how they devour each other as they jockey over the next two years. Harmon et al. quickly dumped the Hollands, that’s how shallow she and her minions are. Instead they’ve returned to the “resistance themes” hysterically going after the tantrum-subject of the day. Electoral victory, yes, but win for the community…NO. the people have lost again.

Jan Marx endorsed her because they are all Team Adam Hill.

Thanks for runng Mr. Gurnee. I voted for you and as a working man I am really frikin scared of what the corrupt political machine will do to the honest folk in our town. Hopefully we can defeat this beast next time. God Bless.

Thank you for trying to become mayor, Gurnee

Sad to say but I’m afraid the battle is being lost. In due time, after everyone is taxed, fee’d and bonded to death SLO will either die, as we have known it, or at some time it may be revived. But for now, in my opinion, along with CA. it’s dying a slow death.

Yep, California is experiencing an exodus of the working classes. The corrupt progressive behemoth won yet again. I think it’s going to have to be a generational shift, people like Feinstein don’t have much time left in their lives and the new crop on both the left and right aren’t anything like her. Unfortunately we live in interesting times.

Keith is speaking for so many us.The Progressive /Liberal Machine, is very real and is in control of our County, with the

exception of (Thank Goodness) our Supervisors. They are organized. Decent people who refuse to go negative will never win because Negative/ Big Money, it seems will always win. People pay we must pay attention, or you will get the government you vote for. It appears 3,000 students were registered by Harmon.We need to make changes in regards to students being able to vote for City officials.

ummm… except the worst, corrupt progressive there is, the Dirty Supervisor himself, Adam Hill.

3000 students eh? I wouldn’t be surprised if this thing was rigged. And if 3000 students voted for Harmon they voted against their interests. But kids don’t really get it until they’ve held a job for 10 years.