Our View: Heidi Harmon changed the game as mayor of SLO
When Heidi Harmon narrowly won election as mayor of San Luis Obispo back in 2016, she vowed to shake up the status quo.
And that’s what the former Bernie Sanders convention delegate did when she won by a handful of votes.
During the next five years, she pressed the no-growth crowd for more housing, including tiny homes; she advocated for expansion of marijuana enterprises; and she pushed for aggressive climate goals for the city. For the past 18 months, she’s led the city’s largely successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic, winning high marks on an effort that has proven to be exhausting for many leaders.
In late August, the Harmon era in City Hall came to an abrupt end.
At a press conference called on short notice, Harmon announced she was stepping down to devote herself full time to climate issues as a public affairs director with the Romero Institute of Santa Cruz and its “Let’s Green California” initiative.
A Cal Poly graduate with solid political instincts, we expect Harmon to flourish in her statewide role. She said she was inspired by her son to devote the next phase of her career to climate issues.
“I recognize that this decision is unexpected and unusual,” she said in announcing her resignation. “But these are not usual times.”
Harmon leaves behind a confused political landscape with the City Council set to meet on Sept. 7 to sort out how to replace her.
The council could appoint a replacement or schedule a special election.
Although Harmon has vehemently denied involvement, her resignation comes amid a burgeoning scandal around Helios Dayspring, a marijuana entrepreneur charged with bribing the late Adam Hill, a San Luis Obispo County supervisor.
Dayspring contributed to multiple campaigns in the county, including Harmon’s, and the scandal has rocked Democratic Party politics in a county that remains a rare toss-up in California.
The Romero Foundation is one of California’s oldest social justice organizations and it has become heavily involved in climate issues in recent years.
Harmon’s energy and enthusiasm made her a force to be reckoned with in greater San Luis Obispo. Almost certainly, we have not heard the last from her.
UCSB DESERVES TO PREVAIL IN PATENT CASE
Having caught many global retailers red-handed in violating its LED lighting patents, UC Santa Barbara is again in court defending its intellectual property.
The cases brought by UCSB and its attorneys have won settlements and licensing agreements from several major retail chains and manufacturers, particularly over the design of vintage-style bulbs that have become common in lighting installations.
Taking money from major research universities by misappropriating the hard work of innovators like Nobel Laureate
Shuji Nakamura and his colleagues is shameful, and it sets back efforts to educate a new generation of scientists. The rest of the pack should come to its senses and reach a reasonable settlement.