Gurnee to challenge Harmon for SLO mayor



A former SLO City Council member and critic of current city politics will challenge incumbent Heidi Harmon in the SLO mayor's race this fall.

T. Keith Gurnee, a retired planner and urban designer, announced his candidacy on May 14—four days after Harmon launched her own re-election bid.

In her campaign announcement, Harmon highlighted her first-term accomplishments since defeating Jan Marx in a tight 2016 race.

"One of the things I'm most proud of in general is the high level of civility and civic engagement we have at council," Harmon said to a group of supporters at City Hall on May 10. "That's a tone we've really changed at the city."

Harmon celebrated SLO's commitment to tackling environmental issues—naming "climate action" as major goal, pursuing net-zero carbon emissions status, and passing a straws-upon-request policy and single-use plastic container ban at city events. She also named repealing the Rental Housing Inspection Program; overhauling developer fees to encourage smaller, more affordable homes; and addressing city pension debt as accomplishments.

"We've done so much in just that 18 months," Harmon said.

Gurnee, who served on the council between 1971 and 1977 and spent most of his career at RRM Design Group, told New Times he decided to run for mayor at the encouragement of community members.

"The reason I think people were asking was because we need a council that does things for neighborhoods instead of doing things to them," Gurnee said.

Over the past year, Gurnee joined other members of SLO's Anholm neighborhood to oppose a bikeway project proposed on Chorro and Broad streets. The plan received significant backlash from residents for eliminating on-street parking.

"They've awakened the bear of this neighborhood and awakened the bear in me," Gurnee said. "But that's hardly the only issue."

Gurnee highlighted fiscal responsibility, the "wise" management of city infrastructure and water resources to "control city expansion," protecting neighborhood character, addressing Cal Poly's impact on the city, and open space as other key issues. Δ

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