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New San Luis Obispo mayor, council member share goals for future of city

Erica A. Stewart is sworn in as Mayor of San Luis Obispo after her predecessor, Heidi Harmon, stepped down.

Erica A. Stewart is San Luis Obispo’s new mayor. She was appointed to the position after her predecessor, Heidi Harmon, stepped down. Council member Carlyn Christianson was also appointed as Vice Mayor and City Planning Commissioner Michelle Shoresman was appointed to fill the open council seat.

Stewart has served as a city council member since 2018 and has chaired a number of committees. She served most recently as the president of Cal Poly’s Alumni Association.

“I really looked at all of my experience as a leader, as well as all of my experience in the community, and realized I could do this job,” Stewart said. “I felt really confident that I would do a good job.”

Stewart said the council is working to achieve a number of things moving forward — one of them being a full health and economic recovery from the pandemic.

She said diversifying San Luis Obispo is another big goal. Stewart said she wants to expand the richness of culture in the community.

“I’d like [it] to not be the place where people say, ‘I won’t be able to settle there. I won’t be able to work there. I won’t be able to go to school there,’ because of the color of their skin or what they believe,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the council is trying to take a holistic approach with each decision by looking at how the outcomes may impact things like climate or diversity.

“Eventually, we won’t have to ask those questions. We won’t have to have a major city goal of being diverse because it will already be the case,” Stewart said. “I look forward to that day. I know that won’t happen in two years, or even in one year within this appointment process, but I am excited to be able to move us down that road.”

New council member Michelle Shoresman said she thinks the city is moving in a good direction. She said she wants to focus on promoting healthy lifestyles and infrastructure that supports that.

“Whether it’s safe streets or community gardens or safe, accessible places for people to congregate and enjoy each other's company,” Shoresman said. “All of those things are elements that I would like to see more of in our community.”

Mayor Stewart, Vice Mayor Christianson and council member Shoresman will serve in their new roles through at least December 2022.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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