A month before the election, Heather Moreno spotted one of her campaign signs planted near City Hall and pointed.
“Vote for that woman,” she joked. “I hear she’s a good one.”
Of course, she didn’t need to lobby: As the only candidate in Atascadero’s mayoral race, victory was assured.
We sat down with the next mayor, who is also a professional weight-loss coach, at the Sunken Gardens for a lighthearted conversation about her new job, weight loss and tamales.
How does it sound — Mayor Moreno?
It’s exciting, and it’s quite an honor. It’s a big job, and I feel really prepared for it.
Did you think when you moved here that… when did you move here?
2004, and the answer is no. I never had political aspirations. We are in such an upward trajectory. In my two and a half years on the Planning Commission and six years on the Council, I built a lot of relationships. And that is critical to keeping all of this moving in that forward direction — continuing to bring more investment to Atascadero and the things we want.
Will you talk to other mayors around — is there a mayor’s club?
There is a mayors’ meeting that happens once a month, addressing issues that affect us regionally. It’s an opportunity to share best practices and be able to collaborate.
What would you like your first priority to be?
Atascadero is a great place to live. It’s becoming a better place to shop and eat. But it also needs to be a better place to work. We need head-of-household jobs here.
What are you most excited about that’s happening?
If I had one thing maybe it’s La Plaza (future commercial/retail development) because that has been a need for so long. But it’s hard to pick any one thing. It’s just all of it coming together. City Hall, getting back in there five years ago. The reason we were able to do the footbridge — that was leftover redevelopment funds because we came in under budget on City Hall. We have more investment coming into our town than we had before. We’re making easier for businesses to do business here.
You were a CPA for a long time.
I’m still licensed.
Did you decide you didn’t want to do that anymore — that you hate numbers?
No, I love numbers. I know numbers. I’m good at numbers. It was my last semester of studying for my accounting degree, and I was taking an upper division GE course on nutrition and drugs. I had been interested in health and fitness, and I thought, “Oh, I should have done something like this.” It was just an interest of mine that grew over time.
The personal training thing morphed, and now what I do is one-on-one coaching.
What’s the biggest misperception we have about weight loss?
I think the biggest myth about losing weight is that you don’t enjoy it — that you have to deprive yourself and be miserable. That’s just not true.
What should you do the most?
One of the best things you can do is ask, “Am I hungry?” before you eat. We eat for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with physical hunger. And make sure you are eating what you enjoy.
So I can have tamales and still be OK?
I like tamales, and I’m OK. We don’t want to discourage anyone from tamales.
What’s your favorite place in Atascadero?
The Three Bridges Trail is awesome. You get to the top and you have that view of Atascadero. I’m excited about Joy Park. Parents for Joy came to us five years ago on the Council and said we need an all-inclusive playground, and as a Council we said, “Yeah, we think that’s a great idea,” so we set aside the space at Colony Park and gave that to them and earlier this year and gave them $500,000 in impact fees.
Who’s idea was the giant wreath (on City Hall)?
Usually, we do the tree lighting. And we lost the one Deodor cedar last year. The other trees are just stressed, and putting lights on them is stressful. So last year we decided, let’s do the wreath. Because we still wanted to have the lighting and be festive for the holidays.
That was an impressive wreath.
It was gigantic, wasn’t it?
Publisher’s Note: We thank Mayor-elect Heather Moreno for sitting down with us for the Q&A. While Mrs. Moreno is unopposed and scheduled for installation, there are many candidates and issues on the ballot that need your vote, for and against. Exercise your voice by making it to the polls on Tuesday, November 6. Do your research, and look into the issues and candidates from all angles wherever possible. Thank you for being part of our Constitutional fabric.