Gurnee announces his run for mayor

T. Keith Gurnee

Announcement by T. Keith Gurnee

On May 11, I filed a notice of intent to run for Mayor of the City of San Luis Obispo. Why in the world would I consider running against an incumbent mayor?

Just a few short years ago, we were considered “The happiest place in north America.” Not anymore. In recent years, we have lost that title and that loss has cost us: economically, spiritually, and politically. Just talk with the residents of our neighborhoods. They’re definitely not happy today. We must find a way to return to the things that made us happy and work together to regain that happiness. The first step to once again achieving that standing is electing a new Mayor.

Having lived most of my adult life and raised our children in San Luis Obispo, I am no stranger our city government. In 1971, I ran for and was elected to the San Luis Obispo City Council as a 23-year-old student of Architecture at Cal Poly and served as the youngest elected official in the State of California at the time. Reelected in 1975, I was on the council with Mayor Ken Schwartz when we opened Mission Plaza, when we started our public transportation system, when we enacted the first public smoking ban in the nation, and when we started protecting our creeks and open spaces.

Meri Kay and Keith Gurnee celebrating in 1975 reelection to the SLO City Council.

After leaving public office, I enjoyed an award-winning career as a planner and urban designer specializing in downtown and waterfront revitalization, land conservation, parks and recreation projects, and public consensus building working with local governments throughout the State of California and beyond. That experience will be invaluable in leading this city into the challenging years ahead. After semi-retiring from that profession in 2014, I have continued to be active in community affairs.

In short, my depth of experience in visioning and planning, coupled with my wealth of knowledge of the workings of state and local government, uniquely qualifies me for this position. As your Mayor, I pledge to give thoughtful and priority consideration to the following topics that are of major concern to our citizenry:

  • Bringing wise fiscal responsibility to our community.
  • Respecting and protecting the character and quality of life of our community and especially our neighborhoods.
  • Holding Cal Poly accountable for its impacts on our community.
  • Expanding our open space greenbelt with strong stewardship protections.
  • Refurbishing and expanding Mission Plaza and our cultural center to serve our citizens for generations to come.
  • Making the wise management of our infrastructure and water resources as a prime tool to control city expansion and local housing costs.
  • Working to strengthen our local economy while supporting our culture and the arts.
  • Focusing on providing safe bike lanes along the railroad tracks and key arterial streets where the
  • accidents are rather than forcing them down the residential streets of our neighborhoods.

In just the two short days since announcing my candidacy, the response has been both remarkable and humbling. It’s clear that the residents of this community are looking for a change.

I am interested in promoting and refining those elements of San Luis Obispo that have generated the spirit, the community pride, and the pleasure we have enjoyed in being so fortunate to live in “The happiest place in North America.”

It’s indeed time for a change. It’s also time to take our city back and return to mature and thoughtful management that once was our hallmark. That will take a strong and visionary leader with compassion for our community and a proven track record of success. I would be honored should the voters allow me to be that leader.

For more information, phone (707)696-2937 or email me at:

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2 Comments about “Gurnee announces his run for mayor”

  1. obispan says:

    I note that no other media have acknowledged his candidacy. The cabal comprised of City staff, the Council of singularly minded members dedicated to serving all BUT city residents (no tax dollars for our pensions, no profits for our developers), and KSBY/The Tribune/New Times remains in firm control. Anyone aware of T. Keith Gurnee’s 1970’s legacy would consider him almost as liberal and “progressive” as could be. He’s gotten outrun by nut-job Heidi Harmon and her extreme and intolerant agenda. It is strangely Machiavellian that the developers have aligned with the “liberals” to overtax limited resources and degrade our quality of life and the environment.

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