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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 12:48 pm | Partly Cloudy 62º

 
 
 
 

Meagan Harmon Settling in as Newest Santa Barbara City Councilwoman

Lompoc native was appointed from among 10 applicants to represent District 6, which encompasses most of downtown

Meagan Harmon in City Hall office Click to view larger
Meagan Harmon is getting comfortable at City Hall after she was appointed to the City Council on Feb. 12. A Lompoc native, at 32, she is the youngest person on the 7-member panel. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

At 32, attorney Meagan Harmon is the newest and youngest member of the Santa Barbara City Council.

She's a lifelong Democrat and a self-proclaimed “dyed in the wool progressive.”

But Harmon promises one thing in her new role as the seventh member of the City Council: She'll leave the politics at the door. 

“I want to take the issues as they come,” Harmon told Noozhawk. “I want to be thoughtful and measured, and do what's best for the district as a whole.”

Harmon was appointed to the City Council on Feb. 12 after three rounds of voting by the other six members.

The appointment, to fill the seat vacated by former councilman Gregg Hart, surprised the political establishment. Harmon didn't win the seat through political backdoor maneuvering, or lining up party endorsements, or even by serving on local advisory boards.

She somehow found a seat on the City Council by way of Lompoc, where she was born.

“I loved it there,” said Harmon, who graduated from Cabrillo High School. “It is different from Santa Barbara. It is a different type of community. It's a really wonderful, good-hearted community.”

Harmon moved to Santa Barbara about two years ago.

She represents District 6, which includes the bulk of the downtown, and she plans to play a vital role in the conversations about reviving State Street.

She credits Santa Barbara with shaping who she is, and recalls fond memories of shopping on State Street with her grandmother, and performing in musicals with the Santa Barbara Youth Theatre.

She was married in Santa Barbara and has a daughter, and husband, Nick, who is also an attorney. 

Right now, however, he's a stay-at-home dad. 

“I am so lucky to have him,” Harmon said. “I quite literally couldn't do it without him.”

Meagan Harmon oath of office City Hall Click to view larger
Meagan Harmon takes the Oath of Office for the Santa Barbara City Council after being appointed to the District 6 seat on Feb. 12.  (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Harmon graduated from Harvard University with a master's degree in Middle Eastern studies, and earned a law degree from the New York University School of Law.

“Meagan's intelligence  and life experience is going to be priceless for us,” said Councilman Oscar Gutierrez, who was elected in 2018.

Gutierrez, who is 34, said he is glad to see another millennial on the dais with him.

“I'm very excited to have Meagan on the council,” he said. “It was inevitable that the flow of time would bring our generation into positions of power all over country, but it does seem that it is happening sooner and more frequently than expected. That is a good thing since some people use the millennial classification of as a four-letter word even though we are the most educated, openly-minded and technologically-savvy generation yet.”

Harmon speaks four languages besides English: Arabic, Hebrew, French and Dari. She worked in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a program consultant, where she served as a humanitarian on a team that established food programs in rural areas of the country. She's also traveled and worked in Africa.

“There's so much out there, there's so much I want to understand, I was blessed to work abroad,” Harmon said.

Her international experience gives her an upper hand back home, she said. 

“I value what we have here so much,” Harmon said. 

Since her appointment, Harmon has served officially at two council meetings — a budget workshop and a regular council meeting.

Last week during her first regular meeting, she was still feeling the nerves.

“Every time I took a sip of water, my hands were shaking,” she said. “I felt the seriousness of the moment.”

She wore her mother Kathy's business suit for the meeting.

“She is the strongest woman I know,” Harmon said. 

On the council, Harmon hopes to bring a sense of openness and nonpartisanship to her decisions. She wants to be pro-housing and pro-business.

“I don't believe it is good to see those as antithetical,” Harmon said. 

“It's so important for folks to feel like they can voice their opinions,” Harmon said. “I need people sharing their ideas with me. I want to learn from them so all of us can do the right thing for the city.”

The current term of the District 6 seat ends this year, so Harmon will have to run in the November City Council election if she wants to compete for the seat and serve a full term. 

She has not yet revealed whether she plans to run for election. 

“I will make that clear very soon,” she said. 

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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