Mayor Harmon opposed to statue of Roosevelt, noting gender

January 11, 2019

Mayor Heidi Harmon

The city of San Luis Obispo is considering placing a monument to President Teddy Roosevelt in Mitchell Park, prompting Mayor Heidi Harmon to question why there is a need for “more monuments of white men.” [Cal Coast Times]

In recent months, former SLO councilman John Ashbaugh has spearheaded a campaign to honor Roosevelt, the United States’ 26th president, for helping launch the conservation movement and for once visiting San Luis Obispo. Ashbaugh’s plan calls for a bronze statue of Roosevelt by artist Paula Zima to be placed in Mitchell Park.

“We have have an extraordinary chance to honor Roosevelt with a monument to his legacy as one of the founders of our nation’s environmental movement, along with John Muir,” Ashbaugh stated last week in a Facebook post. “One week before meeting John Muir and traveling with him to Yosemite, Roosevelt spoke in San Luis Obispo, May 9, 1903.”

Harmon, SLO’s recently reelected mayor, responded to the Facebook post with a string of comments.

“Wondering why we need more monuments of white men at this point,” Harmon wrote. “Is it not way past time to honor a border group?”

Harmon inserted in one of her comments a link to an opinion article in The Guardian headlined, “Across America, racist and sexist monuments give way to a new future.” The mayor then continued arguing her case.

“We have no monument whatsoever to any women in this beautiful city — why would we put resources to this in light of that? Just saying,” Harmon wrote. “I just don’t understand why we continue to put all of our resources into only lifting up white men and there’s close to zero resources put into white women or people of color whatsoever in terms of monuments etc.”

Ashbaugh responded, saying Roosevelt is just the start and he would support more public art honoring important local leaders of all races, ethnicities, gender identities and causes.

The Roosevelt monument proposal is expected to go before San Luis Obispo’s parks commission next month.


1. The Mayor sounds whacky racist.

2. Not very bright.

3. Why? Monuments are typically built for leaders from 50-100 years ago. As time moves on, you’ll see more women and POC honored.

4. I support a monument for Senator Barbara Jordan, which would check multiple boxes. Black, female, and we learned in death, lesbian. And once suggested a 5-year moratorium on legal immigration to help poor Americans live the American Dream.

Ben Daho

I’m a male with 2 daughters and a grand daughter. i’d like them to look up and see a woman that has been honored instead of only males. Why on earth would anyone disagree with Ms. Harmons point of view. She didn’t advocate to take away male statues, but with over 50% of Americans being female and almost every single one of us birthed by a female. it’s important to recognize them. Ms. Harmon, Keep your head up and thank you.


How about Maxine (Muddy)Waters?


I support all good people, regardless of race or gender (or whatever). Ms. Harmon, you’ve lost my support.


let’s see. TR began as a red but was encouraged to leave and founded the Bull Moose Party. somewhat Progressive. WHAT is she talking about? Learn History.oh,sorry, not PC


Harmon’s sexist and racist comments are repulsive. Just imagine for a moment if she was a male, and she was talking like that about a historical figure who happened to be a woman of color. Shame on her.

While TR was a damned good man, he has little connection to SLO. The statue isn’t justified. Just another Ashbaugh wet dream — like the embarrassing mobile at the intersection of Higuera and Marsh Streets.

SLO deserves better.


Once again Harmon demonstrates we’ve elected a hateful doofus as mayor.

Beyond that, her comments just show how ignorant and knee-jerk stupid she is. No non-white, female statues in SLO? Maybe she’s so busy being a demagogue when in Mission Plaza she’s never noticed the Chumash memorial — female, non-white and all — by the same sculptor Ashbaugh has engaged. That was fittingly one of the first pieces of public art in town, sponsored by an old white guy, Ken Schwartz.

Furthermore, where in SLO are all these “white guy” statues she’s so worked up about? Anybody other than Harmon’s racist imagination ever seen them? Overall, it seems we have a remarkably statue-free town, unless you count plastic cows.


Why not a monument to Heidi? Any suggestions on where to put it?


Teddy Roosevelt was a white man, but he was not a white man that taught hate or racism. In fact, quite the opposite.

Roosevelt stood for preserving nature, one of the cornerstones of San Luis Obispo’s own character and charm. Councils for decades have fought hard and paid dearly to preserve the Morro’s and greenbelt/open spaces for all to enjoy.

Roosevelt is the only sitting president to have stopped in San Luis Obispo, this is a honor for the city still today. John Ashbaugh has worked tirelessly to see that San Luis Obispo doesn’t forget this honor and the statue as designed is tasteful and respectful. The design has Roosevelt seated on a large stone with a circle of stones around him where others can sit to enjoy a chat.

Roosevelt is also the reason the Teddy Bear has become a staple in every child’s life and a metaphor for gentle men of all colors.

Please do not stand in the way of the monument being built in Mitchell Park.


“Roosevelt is the only sitting president to have stopped in San Luis Obispo, this is a honor for the city still today…”

That’s not true. Both William McKinley and George W. Bush visited SLO while POTUS.

A number of others visited or passed through SLO before or after they became POTUS.


Thanks for the correction, really appreciate it. Personally I thing TR’s stop is the most significant and appreciate the work that’s gone into pursuing a monument.