13 candidates vying for SLO mayor, council seats

September 28, 2021

Erica Stewart


Five candidates are seeking to be appointed mayor of San Luis Obispo for the remainder of the term vacated last week by Heidi Harmon.

Vice-Mayor Erica Stewart is among the five candidates. Stewart is the only member of the city council who is vying to replace Harmon.

Because of Harmon’s resignation and the possibility of Stewart being appointed mayor, the city recently accepted applications for both the mayor’s seat and a council seat. A total of 13 individuals applied for the mayor’s and/or council seat. Three candidates applied only for mayor; eight applied only for council member; and two applied for both positions.

In addition to Stewart, Jeffery Specht and Matt Ritter applied specifically for the mayor’s seat. Specht has run previously for both mayor and council and has been a frequent critic of city policy. Ritter is a Cal Poly biology professor, who chaired SLO’s Tree Committee for eight years. Ritter stated in his application that he see the appointment as a one-time event and will not run for mayor in the next election.

Joshua Cohen and Mark Buchman are the two candidates who applied for both the mayoral and council seats. Cohen owns the San Luis Obispo bike shop Foothill Cyclery. Buchman is the founder of Schoolyard Communications, a firm that provides communication services to school districts.

The remaining eight candidates vying to replace Stewart on the city council, if she is appointed mayor, are:

Emily Francis – educator

Joe Benson – attorney

Michael Draze – former city planner and planning commissioner

Michelle Shoresman – SLO County Health Agency division manager

Mike Multari – local government consultant

Mila Vujovich-La Barre – educator

Robin Wolf – bar and restaurant specialist

Sharon Whitney – retired professor

At the Oct. 5 council meeting, each candidate will receive five minutes to tell the council why they should be appointed mayor and/or council member.

Following the candidates’ presentations, the council will attempt to reach a consensus on whom to appoint, which could be followed by the swearing in of the new mayor.

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Maybe they should search out of State, they seem to do that for every other position they have.

Here is an idea, eliminate the position of mayor, and just have a rotating position of chair and vice chair among council members.

Forgive my ignorance here, but I honestly don’t know if any of these folks (other than Stewart) are POC. Does anyone know? We just spent $160,000 to bemoan the lack of diversity in this town, so I’m assuming there would be an effort too get minorities to apply for the appointment.

Even though it is no longer politically correct, I want the best person for the job.

But if you are wanting to select based on portion of society, the city would need to select a Hispanic male.

So considering a candidate’s skin tone is now appropriate in determining if they should hold office?

That’s big time racism! smh…

Based on the way the last POC city council candidate, Abrianna Torres, was treated, are you surprised we don’t have more POC running? She was attacked and smeared by local partisan hacks on both sides of the aisle and even accused of being “not black enough.” Apparently you need to be the “right sort of minority” to get support…

Hold on one moment. Abrianna Torres — a fine candidate in my opinion, wasn’t elected for two reasons:

1.) She’s not an extreme lefty.

2.) She focused on the issues and not on her skin tone.

Without question, both Abrianna and Cherisse Sweeney as mayor would have been HUGE upgrades for the City of SLO.

At least Marx isn’t on the list, thanks be to God.

Don’t be so happy, she is still on the council! That’s bad enough.

Heaven help us

SLO tree committee? Seriously? Good lord.

Sorry, Joe but the last thing the council neeeds is an attorney. As an attorney please go back to what attorneys do – whatever’s that is.

I’m thinking that Tianna Arata would be the best candidate to replace Harmon!!!

My comment was pure sarcasm:)

Even though sadly Arata and Harmon are pretty close politically!!!

You didn’t use the Sarcasm font!

I would subject each candidate to one important litmus test. One that deals with the attempt last summer by race-baiting groups like Race Matters SLO and individuals like Heidi Harmon to establish systemic racism in the City of SLO, under the cover of false, misleading anti-racism rhetoric.

That was some hardcore dangerous and altogether unacceptable behavior. If any of the candidates supported/support this effort, then they’re not fit to serve in any capacity in govt, anywhere.

The City of SLO needs a serious upgrade from Harmon. Status quo simply won’t cut it. In other words, that dog won’t hunt!