ATASCADERO — The actual election may be less than a week away, but the City of Atascadero already has a Mayor-elect in Heather Moreno, as the only candidate to file for a spot on the November ballot.
Currently, on the City Council, she’s not planning on holding a party of her own on election night, rather, she said,
In the meantime, she’s been meeting with City Manager Rachel Rickard about the City’s strategic planning process, conducted at the start of a new Council, and feels confident in the group’s ability to move forward no matter what combination of candidates the voters pick to fill two vacancies.
“There’s a been, a consensus, a very consistent consensus, that we need to diversify our local economy,” Moreno said, adding that it would come as a great surprise if residents suddenly decided it was best for Atascadero to remain a “bedroom community.”
In fact, in all her contact with the public, she said, she’d only met one person who told her they simply didn’t want anything to change, ever.
After the election, “we’ll be getting on with how we should move forward,” she said, noting that candidates Mark Dariz, Susan Funk and Heather Newsom will be well positioned to work with herself and the Council as, “we all agree on the basics of economic development.”
With La Plaza Hotel project getting set for a groundbreaking sometime in the near future and new civic projects planned on stretches of El Camino, Moreno said, “we’re seeing investment in our community [unlike] anything I’ve seen in the 14 years I’ve been here...Entrada [Avenue] used to be a ghost town; there was nothing open. Now we’re seeing young businesses thrive and it can be hard to find parking.”
While she stopped short of saying that the interest in economic development for the City was at unprecedented levels, after all the Colony was founded with considerable effort, the incorporated City itself, she explained, is still “very young” having only incorporated in 1979.
“Since then we’ve kept moving, even through the rough patches,” she added alluding to dysfunctional Councils of the past, “over the last ten years we have had a consistent consensus that [keeping] up momentum forward is best. It’s our job to facilitate a balance of local jobs and growth and housing.”
Noting that the City has gotten more out of area attention for events over the last year, she added that part of the Council’s job description includes helping make it “fun” to live and work in Atascadero, “we do have a very unique quality of life to look after. I love this City.’