Heidi Harmon wants to get people involved. The long-time advocate put together a strong grassroots campaign aimed at getting people interested in local government and out to the polls on election day.

Apparently, she did just that. And with a margin of only 47 votes, she proved that every vote counts.

Before the election, she was better known as a climate change advocate, early childhood educator, Bernie Sanders delegate and a ‘force of nature’ with signature red roses.

Harmon is now better known as the Mayor of San Luis Obispo.

She recently put down the gavel, moved out from behind the dais and spoke about solidarity, the importance of showing up, and how she is approaching her transition from advocacy to governance.

What personal quality are you working on?
To be loving and understanding to all people regardless of their views. This election cycle has exacerbated the divisive trajectory of our country. I am working every day to be a good listener and have compassion for all voices, even if, and perhaps especially if I do not agree.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
Someone who never gives up, and never stops fighting for true progress for our planet and our people. I think that I already have that in me, so maybe I want to continue to become more fully myself.

What is your favorite word?
Solidarity is probably one of my favorite words. To be in solidarity with our residents, with marginalized groups, with those standing up to protect our planet, with our future generations, is a powerful and important act. Solidarity is a verb, something we can proactively create in relationship with others.

Which talent would you most like to have?
I would really love to fluently know as many languages as possible. What an amazing thing it would be to be able to have a conversation with anyone in the world without barriers.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
That showing up is the most important thing. There is no substitute for really showing up for the people we love and the values we stand for. It’s time, more than ever, to show up for each other to create the city and the world we want to see.

Where would you rather be right now?
Honestly, I am so honored to be here in SLO and to have been chosen to lead this special city at such a crucial time. I plan to make the most of this opportunity and I am really looking forward to seeing what SLO can become. I can’t think of any other place I would rather be.

What do you think would be the most impactful policy change for the City of San Luis Obispo?
Overhauling the Rental Housing Inspection Program is a huge priority to so many residents in SLO, my hope is that policy reform in this area will provide more accessible living opportunities for families and single income households while simultaneously providing healthy living environments for our renters.

You’ll be transitioning from a strong role in advocacy to governance, how do you plan on doing that?
Being engaged in the community, proactively listening to the people, and being an inclusive leader are commonalities between advocacy and governance. My real plan is to continue to be committed to those principles, and work hard through collaboration with council members, city staff, community members, and area leaders to create policy and practices that make SLO the place people want to come home to.