The City Council is composed of five members, a Mayor and four Council members, elected at large by the citizens of Atascadero. 

The City Council acts upon all legislative matters concerning the city, approving, and adopting all ordinances, resolutions, contracts, and other matters requiring overall policy decisions and leadership. The Council appoints the City Manager, City Attorney, and various other commissions, boards, and citizen advisory committees, all of which ensure broad-based input into the city’s affairs.

This year five people are running for two City Council seats. Incumbent Charles Bourbeau is seeking reelection and is challenged by Bret Heinemann, Mark Dariz, Nicholas Mattson, and Tori Keen. Roberta Fonzi is not running for reelection.

City Council Election 2020 Q&A

The Election Board of The Atascadero News sent out a questionnaire to the City Council Candidates, Heinemann, Bourbeau, Dariz, Mattson, and Keen about their campaigns and their stance on various issues affecting Atascadero, San Luis Obispo County and the North County in particular.

Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same list of questions in 100 words or less. Over the next month, we will be sharing a few of the questions and answers in the newspaper and online so you can get to know your candidates. The candidate’s questions and answers in their entirety are provided below:

Candidate Statements 

Heinemann: My reason for running for the Atascadero City Council is that it is the responsibility of qualified citizens to serve on the Council to govern the city and administer services in a timely manner and oversee the budget. It is important, too, to make sure that there are adequate sources of funding and spend the funds wisely. One of the best sources of revenue is a strong, vibrant economy. 

I moved to Atascadero in 1979 with my parents, and my schooling was completed at Trinity Lutheran School and Atascadero High School. I earned my bachelor’s in History from California State University, Fresno, with a minor in Political Science. I also have an associate’s in Electronics Technology that I earned at Cuesta College.

Atascadero is a great place for work and play. May our homes in safety stay. Let us have jobs for our talents and work together in patience. 

Time is our most precious gift. Use it wisely, so we don’t have to ask what if? For God so loved the World He gave His only Son that those who believe in Him should not perish and be done. 

Bourbeau: I was born in Iowa and raised in Modesto. Upon finishing Cal Poly, I began a three-decade career as a full-time National Guard officer, ultimately serving as a colonel responsible for all federal funds, property, equipment, and contracting for the California National Guard. In 2011-12, I served as the Finance Director for the City of San Luis Obispo. 

We first moved to Atascadero in 1985 when my wife, Melissa, began a long career teaching in Atascadero schools. I have been very active as a volunteer for the police department doing graffiti abatement, CASA mentor for foster youth, building signs and maintaining trails with ALPS, serving on the board for RISE, and being active in the Rotary Club. 

On the Council, I serve as a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice for economic development, financial responsibility, and efficient government. 

I am known for my thorough homework, asking tough questions, and reaching out to all involved parties before making a decision. I take no campaign contributions and donate my Council salary to good causes in our community.

Dariz: A dedicated Planning Commissioner for the City of Atascadero since 2011 (Chairman in 2015 and 2020), I have worked to ensure smart development and economic growth for the city. My background as an architect and my experience on the City’s Design Review Committee and the County’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee has brought a valuable perspective to the many ongoing changes. 

As a member of Atascadero’s Kiwanis Club, where I’ve served as president and currently serve as treasurer, I have seen first-hand the value of volunteer work helping children, the homeless and elderly. I will continue to support the vibrant volunteer spirit in our community.

As a Councilmember, I will: Model an open and transparent public communication and work cohesively and respectfully with my Council colleagues. We will work with other community leaders to bring jobs and business to Atascadero to further enhance our economy, maintain our infrastructure and improve our quality of life. 

I’ll use my experience as an architect and Planning Commissioner to help guide development in a direction to strengthen the well-being and economy of our city. 

I would be honored to have your vote.

Mattson: We face a difficult choice here in Atascadero: continue to embrace the stagnant status quo or harness our city’s potential.

I moved to Atascadero because it was truly a great place to work and raise a family. Sadly, I worry that those days are slipping into the past if we do nothing to solve our biggest challenges.

That’s why I’m running for Atascadero City Council.

As a small businessman, economic development and job creation are fuel for our future, not merely buzzwords.

I won’t pay lip service to recruiting businesses and jobs to our community and will fight to create a robust economic development program that emphasizes job creation and avoids costly sales tax increases to fill holes in the city budget.

And I will fight to promote Atascadero as the best place in North County to raise a family by ensuring we continue to build affordable, market-rate housing. 

I will generate smart solutions to solve our city’s homelessness crisis, all while fighting to keep our streets and neighborhoods safe. 

As your City Councilman, I will put my entire energy into taking Atascadero from merely surviving to thriving. I humbly ask for your vote.

Keen: I have lived in Atascadero for 10 years. I was on the Board of Atascadero AYSO for 6 years while coaching my son and daughter. I am currently a paralegal at a local family law firm. I have spent the past year on the Planning Commission and I want to bring that experience to the City Council.

Question: What will you do to make the City Council better if you are elected?

Heinemann: I will use my understanding of character and values to work with my colleagues and city staff. 

Bourbeau: If re-elected, I will continue to provide a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice that is thorough, thoughtful, and knowledgeable in addressing the challenges facing our city. I will continue to be open to new ideas for improving our city.

Dariz: It is important to have a respectful working relationship with Council colleagues. City Council members should always make themselves available to the public to better understand the issues the voters are most concerned about. This and open and transparent communication will strengthen the trust of the Council.

MattsonAs a member of the City Council, I will make common-sense decisions to ensure our community grows in line with the values that make it home to our longtime families and new residents. My family values as a husband and father of two grade-school boys, I’m focused on public safety and youth activities as well as a thriving business community and economy that supports healthy activity.

In addition to the effort in improving our community as a whole, I will back our community by holding the municipality accountable to the people they serve.

Keen: I will bring a fresh voice to the City Council and make sure that the community’s voice is heard. I will add a new point of view and make sure that things are viewed from many different perspectives. I will make sure that members of the community are brought to the table and make sure their voices are heard.

Question: What is the most important city issue you would like the next City Council to tackle? (Examples: vacant housing, crime, transportation, business development, etc.)

Heinemann: The general plan update and the economy is an ongoing issue. 

Bourbeau: The most important issue facing our city is economic development that brings jobs to our city so that fewer residents will leave the city every day and spend their money supporting other communities. This, in turn, would support more local businesses that offer residents more choices and opportunities. We need to consider allowing more apartments in somewhat taller buildings downtown that will provide more relatively affordable housing options and jump-start business in our downtown by providing customers in walking distance and providing more physical definition to downtown.

DarizEconomic development has always been important, and I will continue to push that. A strong economy will help us better maintain our infrastructure and emergency services. I would like to see better shopping and dining opportunities as well as head-of-household jobs right here in Atascadero. So many positives will come from that, not the least of which is cutting down on longer-range driving, which would help our environment.

Mattson: The most important issue facing Atascadero is the development of a cultural identity outside of being a bedroom community. I want to see the city adopt a personality that can be used to attract new business investment that complements our community personality. Creating a unique personality that can reflect the true experience of a business owner, visitor, and resident will attract complementary businesses and residents in support of growth according to our general plan.

Keen: Homelessness.

Question: Why should the residents vote for you?

Heinemann: Character and values like endurance, responsibility, respect, honesty, truthfulness, and integrity. I will remind people not to be discouraged by disappointments. Let us be thankful for what we have today and use it wisely and build on it for tomorrow. 

Bourbeau: As mentioned above, I provide a strong, independent, nonpartisan voice on the City Council for economic development, financial responsibility, and efficient government. I believe I am known for being thorough, knowledgeable on the issues, and fair-minded to all concerned.

Dariz: My background as an architect and business owner has forced me to be fiscally responsible to my business, personal life, and clients. That ethic would transfer to my duties as a Councilman. Also, I have been a dedicated Planning Commissioner for the city for the past 10 years and currently serve as the chairman, so I have a strong understanding of the city’s needs and vision for the future. My involvement with other community service (Kiwanis) gets me in touch with the community on a more personal level.

Mattson: I am the right candidate to fill the seat on the Atascadero City Council for the upcoming term. We need an invested, passionate, thoughtful, and proactive young voice to put Atascadero on the path to a sustainable, healthy, and safe community.

KeenI’m a young, fresh, passionate voice for families in Atascadero. I love this town and want to work with the people who live here to invest in Atascadero so that our children will be able to work and play here, too!

The Atascadero Chamber has scheduled a virtual forum for the community to hear from City Council candidates tonight at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24. This is a free event for the community. The Mayoral Candidate forum will take place on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. To register for the City Council Candidates Virtual Forum, visit online https://buff.ly/2D8gvHT.

Getting through this together, Atascadero