By the Election Board of the Atascadero News

As we round the corner in the final days of this year’s election cycle, we put together a final preview of the local candidates, measures, and voting hints for the Nov. 3 elections.   

Atascadero City Government

The City Council is composed of five members, a Mayor and four Council members, elected at large by Atascadero’s citizens. The Mayor serves a two-year term, and Council members serve four-year overlapping terms. The Mayor presides over the meetings and performs other ceremonial duties. As the policy-making legislative body, the City Council is responsible for enacting all city programs, policies, and services.

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.

Mayoral Candidates 

This year three people are running for mayor of Atascadero. Current Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno is running for re-election and will face opposition from Josh Donovan and Jerry Tanimoto. Moreno is a local business owner and CPA who ran unopposed in her bid for mayor two years ago. Tanimoto is a small business owner and taught at Atascadero High School for 31 years. Donovan is a small business owner and veteran who was born and raised in Atascadero.

City Council Candidates

Five people are running for two City Council seats. Incumbent Charles Bourbeau is seeking re-election and is challenged by Mark Dariz, Bret Heinemann, Tori Keen, and Nicholas Mattson. Roberta Fonzi did not run for re-election. Bourbeau is currently a City Council Member and Retired Military Officer. Dariz is a local Architect and Planning Commissioner. Heinemann is a local writer and author. Keen is a Family Law Paralegal. Mattson is a local businessman and publisher.

Atascadero Unified School Board 

The role of a local school board is a critical public link to public schools. School board members serve their communities in several important ways.

First, school boards look out for students. Education is the only item that school boards focus on and is accountable for. Second, school boards are accessible to the public and accountable for their schools’ performance, and third, school boards ensure that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.

The most important school board’s responsibility is to work with their communities to improve student achievement in their local public schools. School boards derive their power and authority from the state. In compliance with state and federal laws, school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed.

AUSD Board Candidates 

This year the Atascadero School Board has three seats open all four-year terms. Corinne C. Kuhnle, Mary Kay Mills, and Terri E. Switzer seek re-election to their respective School Board seats and are challenged by parent and community volunteer Vy Pierce.

Local Measures

Atascadero voters will also decide the fate of two measures. AUSD has placed a $40 million school bond on the ballot — Measure C. Bond proceeds will be expended on the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities of the Atascadero Unified School District, including furnishing and equipping, and the acquisition or lease of real property for school facilities. Measure C needs at least 55 percent voter approval to pass.

The City of Atascadero has placed a 1% sales tax measure on the ballot — Measure D. The City estimates the sales tax increase would generate $4.5 million annually that the City would use to maintain and enhance important City services such as police, fire, paramedic, parks, recreation, public facilities, and infrastructure. Measure D needs a simple majority from voters to pass.

Hints for Voters During Four Days of Voting from the County Clerk-Recorder

Return of Vote By Mail Ballots 

Make sure the identification envelope is signed before you return the ballot. Vote By Mail (VBM) ballots that are postmarked on or before Election Day and received within seventeen days of the election are eligible to be counted. If you are dropping your VBM ballot in the mail on Election Day, get a “Circle Date Stamp” on your envelope at the mail counter. However, vote-by-mail ballots that are personally delivered at any of 23 Voter Service Centers in the county, at the 19 VBM ballot drop boxes located throughout the county, or at the County Clerk-Recorder’s offices in San Luis Obispo or Atascadero must be RECEIVED by 8 p.m. on Election Day.  

Drive-by-Dropoff of VBM ballots is available at all Voter Service Centers throughout the County. If you want to vote at the polls instead of voting by mail, take the ballot with you to surrender, but if you have misplaced your ballot, new legislation allows VBM voters to vote a regular poll ballot if it is determined that their ballots were not returned. At a minimum, VBM voters will be allowed to vote a provisional ballot at the Voter Service Centers.

 Voter Service Centers Open for Four Days of Voting

There are 23 Voter Service Centers that be open from Saturday, Oct. 31- Monday, Nov. 2, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and on Nov. 3 Election Day from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Many locations that had been used as polling places in the past are not being used for this election. Please note that voters can go to any Voter Service Center located throughout the County instead of assigned polling places.   

A listing of Voter Service Centers and VBM Ballot Drop Boxes is located here:  

And interactively here:

Accessible Voting Equipment and Spanish Language  

The new accessible ballot-marking devices purchased during the March Primary are designed to help voters with disabilities vote independently and confidentially. 

However, any voter can utilize the machines if they desire. Furthermore, these devices were also equipped with a Spanish language ballot for voters desiring to vote in Spanish. Request to use these machines at the ballot issue table at the Voter Service Center.  

Voter Ballot Tracking 

Voters can also sign up to track their ballots: https://wheresmyballot.sos.ca.gov, a free service the Secretary of State provides voters to receive notifications via text, email, or phone message.

Voters are encouraged to visit the Clerk-Recorder’s website for updates regarding the election at slovote.com. For any questions, please contact the elections office at elections@co.slo.ca.us or (805)781-5228.     

Getting through this together, Atascadero