Five candidates vying to be appointed mayor of SLO

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.