Sweeney leads high-dollar SLO fundraising race

October 2, 2020

Cherisse Sweeney


San Luis Obispo business owner Cherisse Sweeney is outpacing incumbent Mayor Heidi Harmon, while small business consultant Abrianna Torres has a huge lead over other city council candidates in a high-dollar San Luis Obispo fundraising battle.

As of Sept. 19, Sweeney has raised $36,501 in total contributions, well ahead of Harmon’s $25,579 in donations to her campaign. Torres has raised $30,801, easily outpacing other council candidates, including incumbent Councilwoman Andy Pease and former Mayor Jan Marx.

Mayor Heidi Harmon

In her bid to win a third term as mayor, Harmon faces a challenge from Sweeney, Sandra Marshall-Eminger and Donald Hedrick. Sweeney, the owner of Basalt Interiors in downtown SLO, has criticized how Black Lives Matter protesters have treated San Luis Obispo businesses. Harmon, on the other hand, has faced criticism for embracing protesters who have blocked streets and pressured businesses to donate to Black Lives Matter-linked groups.

Marshall-Eminger, publisher of the progressive local news outlet Information Press, has raised $2,350 in total contributions. Hedrick, a welder and frequent mayoral candidate, is not fundraising.

Sweeney has received numerous $300 donations, the maximum allowable contribution under city election rules. Sweeney’s donors include former state senator Sam Blakeslee, SLO County Supervisor Debbie Arnold, former San Luis Obispo mayor Dave Romero, former SLO County District Attorney Gerry Shea and Santa Barbara County Supervisor-elect Bob Nelson.

Other contributors to Sweeney’s campaign include SLO Brew co-founder Rodney Cegelski and his wife, Robin Cegelski. Andrew Meinhold, of property management firm Meinhold Properties, contributed $300 to Sweeney, as did Tim, Tom and William Meinhold. Central Coast Real Estate owner Corrin LePell, the California Real Estate Political Action Committee and 892 Aerovista, LLC likewise gave maximum contributions to Sweeney.

Harmon’s donors include the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund, Cuesta College Federation of Teachers, SLO County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, Grover Beach Councilwoman Mariam Shah and the Democrats of San Luis Obispo Club.

Mindbody CEO Rick Stollmeyer and his wife Jill Stollmeyer, as well as Andy Mangano, the initial developer of Avila Ranch, and his wife Laurie Mangano, each gave $300 contributions to Harmon. Michael Boyer, a principal and director of marketing for Pismo Beach Homes, too, gave $300 to Harmon’s campaign.

Harmon’s form 460 shows her campaign has incurred $1,000 in outstanding consulting fees to Quinn Brady, a close friend of the mayor and her former campaign manager. Harmon’s campaign has also paid $462 in fees to ActBlue, a political action committee that assists Democratic candidates and progressive groups with fundraising. ActBlue has also assisted fundraising efforts of Black Lives Matter-affiliated organizations.

In the council race, Abrianna Torres’s $30,801 in campaign contributions amounts to more than the total funds raised by the other seven candidates in the race combined.

Abrianna Torres

Torres, who previously worked as a SLO County Sheriff’s correctional deputy prior to becoming a small business consultant, has criticized what she says have been recent efforts to marginalize the San Luis Obispo Police Department and to brand community members as racist.

Torres shares a substantial number of donors with Sweeney, including Supervisor Arnold, Rodney and Robin Cegelski and 892 Aerovista, LLC. Like Harmon, Torres received $300 each from Rick and Jill Stollmeyer.

Former Mayor Marx trails Torres in the fundraising race among council candidates. Marx has raised $12,996, including a $5,000 loan from herself.

Jan Marx

Pease, the lone incumbent in the eight-person race for two council seats, has raised $6,595, including a $2,000 loan from herself.

Kelly Evans, who aims to be SLO’s first openly queer council member, has raised $3,530, including a $1,000 loan from herself. Erik Long, a political consultant and former Cal Poly political science lecturer, has raised $720.

Robin Wolf, a restaurant and hospitality industry professional, has raised no money, as of Sept. 19. Jeffrey Specht, a frequent critic of San Luis Obispo city officials, is not currently fundraising.

James Papp, the former chair of SLO’s Cultural Heritage Committee, whom the city council recently ousted from that position, does not any have campaign finance filings in the city’s online portal.


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Whoa! 87 thumbs down.I must say that i appreciate this site to publish most of my comments.

Now, the People deserve more infos on ms Sweeney. Nothing to smear her, my name is not Dan Dow ,but just the facts.Please read my comments monday night if Ccn is willing to post my comments.Thank you.


I’m votin’ for Don Hedrick, why the hell not? You gotta give him credit for perseverance.


Why not? Because Don isn’t “all there.”


Neither is Harmon, what’s you’re point?


I wouldn’t vote for Harmon, either. Sweeney is the clear choice for mayor. That’s my point.

Eyes Everywhere

A vote for Hedrick is a vote for Harmon.

Vote for Sweeney or don’t bother voting.


Go Cherisse !!!!! According to what I’ve read Cal Poly SLO is only having in person classes for 13% (559) of student population ,the rest of the classes are online.

So that states that 87 % of student body is at home in their home towns Not In SLO .Their vote or absentee vote should not count along with cuesta college students not being in SLO also .

I believe most students of both colleges would vote for Harmon , going to be difficult to figure out where students are actually residing


cuesta college students not being in SLO also

Right… because students are moving into SLO from all over the nation to attend the prestigious Cuesta College.


FoxtrotYankee I would say Cuesta College a little safer to attend than say Stockton or Fresno , El Monte etc etc ….On the flip side you also have the grant and student loan hustlers that will sign up for on-line Cuesta or Cal Poly classes just to receive the money who could also be fond of Harmon’s ideals and followers of her supportive network


LOTS of students move to SLO and attend Cuesta on their way to ending up at Poly.

Adam Trask

Sweeney may be just the right “milquetoast” (any perusal of her website finds well-worded banalities on every issue) candidate that she can defeat Harmon. Be advised, however, that Democrats may be coming out of the woodwork to vote this year because, well, you know.


Poppycock! If you had the courage, you’d have a chat with Ms. Sweeney. It wouldn’t take you long to realize she’s a strong, intelligent person, who has given a great deal of thought to San Luis Obispo and it’s future.


I love the fact that Cherisse Sweeney and Abrianna Torres are independent! Compared to Harmon shilling for the democratic central committee and the unions, Cherisse and Abrianna are true breaths of fresh air!


I love the fact that Heidi Harmon and Courtney Haile have declared Abrianna Torres “not black”. I know her parents, they’re black, she’s black. Maybe she’s “not black” because she was born and raised in San Luis Obispo? Black families have always been embraced in SLO, the Hughes and Ford families come to mind at SLO High in the 70’s. Why don’t you ask them about their experiences? Anyone who behaved in a racist manner would have gotten an ass-kicking by some big white boys.


WOW, are you serious?! The audacity of saying something like that is repulsive. Can you post a link to where they said that? Anyone who makes such a statement has no place in public office.


Go to the Congalton’s podcast interview with Abrianna and you can hear her tell you herself about being told she is “not black”. Heidi Harmon and Dawn Addis however, are blacker than Martin Luther King.


Reminds of old Beijing Joe and his comments a few months ago to a black blogger, “if you don’t vote for me you ain’t black.”


Your are lying to people or you do not know : Ms Sweeney was a member of the americain independant party, not a independant.This is a party with far right ideology.Is it what your are wishing to Slo?


“Kelly Evans, who aims to be SLO’s first openly queer council member.”

So this is an election criteria? Who gives a rat’s ass? Why not just be SLO’s first openly QUALIFIED council member? Jeez. Stop this nonsense.


As others have noted, it’s also a completely bogus claim, but she needs to claim something to pretend to erase her “white privilege” if she’s trying to run as the “anti-racism” candidate in a field where there is one actual diverse candidate running against her.

I would love for someone to attend one of Evan’s town halls and ask her if she really wants to diversify SLO and elevate the voices of people of color, why doesn’t she endorse Torres, the only person of color in the race.


Sure like the looks of this but I’m still not convinced the loony and her crazies are going to be gone after November 3. Harmon and her crazies let the developers in the back door for considerable damage to the community without much thought of the integrity of architecture or community or traffic or water . . . . What’s Sweeney’s position on all of this rampant seemingly uncontrolled growth?


Writer what actual “link” do these groups have to Black Lives Matter. It may be beneficial for you to read the article about BLM misinformation on the Anti Deformation League website. Ironically the ADL does link itself to the BLM.


The ADL is almost as worthless as the SPLC.


Harmon has been going around pressing the developer community now ( Cannibis, Madonna, etc), including those who BLM hates. Heidi went around in the initial extortion visits to local businesses. She is in trouble as more and more Sweeney signs pop up. Harmon is too extreme for SLO, the mainstream. Sweeney has supporters that are energized, really energized now because of the vile nature and behavior of Harmon. It will be close, but expect Sweeney sign stealing, defacing etc. I cant predict who will win, it will be close, but I think if Sweeney pulls it off, so can Torres. Marx, because of name recognition, is a real contender. Tribune will endorse Harmon, Pease and Marx. That will be a good sign since they rarely get the winner endorsed these days, just look at the Progressive endorsement picks. We need to deal with the Tribune after this is done.


Great big Sweeney and Torres signs at Madonna Ranch. That should give a clue.


Don’t wait, deal with The Trib now and cancel any subscription.

Stop rewarding bad behavior!


Do people still read the Tribune?