02 Nov Downtown Perspective: Mayor Harmon
Downtowners, today I find myself listening to the Star Wars Radio station on iTunes as I write this. Not because I am a fan of the series but because I wanted a taste of what gets the City of San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon motivated and gives her the incredible amount of energy that guides her leadership. (For the record, I am still a fan of the original trilogy but Phantom Menace completely alienated me from the remainder of the franchise.) Mayor Harmon’s candid sit down with me revealed so many terrific angles of what makes up such a dynamic and empowering woman: her terrific sense of humor, passion for equality for women, environmental awareness, and most notably, her unabashed demand for civic engagement.
Born and raised in Pasadena, Heidi promised from the age of 12 that she was going to be the best parent for her future children that she could be. Perhaps at that time she didn’t realize that this would soon be the catalyst for her political endeavors. Some thirty years ago she moved to San Luis Obispo to pursue her education at Cuesta College and eventually Cal Poly, and along that path started a family and raised two “super kids”. Even after her two children graduated from college, she still found herself feeling a strong maternal drive to guarantee a prosperous life for them: climate change could quite literally jeopardize their lives and the lives of other children across the globe.
With no political background but armed with a resolution to do her part to affect positive change in the world, Heidi started getting involved with local organizations. As a member of the League of Women Voters, Heidi made a decision to challenge an incumbent Assemblyman that was running unopposed on a platform of issues that she could not let stand. She threw herself into her campaign with little expectation to win the race but a belief that she would bring to light important issues that needed to be addressed. Her account of the story is told with great humility, and leads into how she eventually ran for Mayor and her guiding principles in leadership.
At the time of our interview America was still grappling with the tragedy of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada. In more ways than one, we are fighting against evils and sadness in spite of strong and capable leaders like Mayor Harmon. When asked what message she would like to share with the world to inspire people to build a brighter tomorrow, Heidi confidently states that “it is incumbent upon us as individuals to show up, stand up and step up for one another.”
To better understand Mayor Harmon’s approach to life and politics, I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to the full-length podcast. As always, there are some fun stories in there that don’t make it to print. Who knows, maybe you will find yourself listening to a little Star Wars Radio with an even greater admiration for our mayor.
You can get in touch with our Mayor at the following contact points: HHarmon@SLOCity.org or @heidiismighty on Instagram and Twitter and Heidi Harmon on Facebook.