Heather Moreno and Susan Funk are both running for supervisor’s seat and serve together on the Atascadero City Council
ATASCADERO — On Wednesday, Jan. 31, from noon to 1:30 p.m., the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce hosted a County Candidate Forum for those running for District 5 Supervisor in the upcoming election on Tuesday, March 5. Atascadero’s current mayor, Heather Moreno, and Atascadero Mayor Pro Tem Susan Funk, are both running for the District 5 spot.
“We’re here today obviously to provide an opportunity for you to hear directly from these candidates so you can make informed decisions when you vote as to where they stand on matters that are important to you,” said moderator and SLO Chamber President and CEO Jim Dantona. “The Chamber does not endorse candidates, but we do want to provide all the information available to the voters and to the concerned citizens.”
Funk and Moreno took alternate turns, first answering prepared questions and then diving into questions written by SLO County residents in attendance. In total, both candidates answered 16 questions ranging from homelessness in the county to affordable housing, not including their opening and closing statements.
“I am running for County Supervisor because I think the county needs leadership,” said Moreno in her opening statement. “Leadership that will, number one, support public safety in all the ways possible. Two, support policies that promote jobs and housing that help make our county affordable for residents, businesses, and families to thrive, and three, are going to approach homelessness in a way that’s intelligent, compassionate, yet provide accountability.”
On the other hand, Funk said in her opening statement that she is committed to making government more transparent, accountable, and responsive to the community, and that she stepped into local public office because she deeply believes in public service.
Both Funk and Moreno agree that homelessness is one of their top priorities when it comes to being District 5 supervisor. Moreno stated that she believes there are three things to focus on where the topic is concerned: accountability, balancing compassion with order, and a coordinator to oversee the issue in the county. Funk, who has been serving on the Homeless Services Oversight Council, also agreed that accountability is a central issue.
Both Moreno and Funk have spent years of their political career on the Atascadero City Council together. Dantona asked both what that has taught them about working with constituents, collaborating, and maintaining civility with their fellow elected officials.
Moreno stated that it is a team effort and that she couldn’t do what she does as mayor without the rest of the city staff, the council, and the Atascadero community.
Funk said that she ran for council because she wanted to make sure that Atascadero had a group of people who represented all the facets of the city and wanted to make sure all voices were heard.
Ten out of the 16 questions during the forum were from audience members, and both candidates had a chance to answer them. Even with different political ideologies, both agreed that Diablo Canyon Power Plant needs to be kept open.
“I think it is important that we work together, and I commit to listening to you and to engaging with you,” said Moreno in her closing statement. “I commit to working well with my colleagues on the Board of Supervisors and with staff and listening to you when you come to the dais. It doesn’t matter if we agree on things. What matters is that we’re able to have a conversation to get to better solutions.”
“I think it’s important that we have leaders at every level who will push back against the elements of our society that are trying to undermine the trust we have in each other,” Funk said in her final statement. “The trust we have to make decisions together, so that we have leaders who are really committed to the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
In March, either Moreno or Funk will be elected to the District 5 supervisor’s seat and will be one of the five county supervisors to serve for the next four years in SLO County. Whichever candidate wins will be crafting policies and managing the county’s financial resources along with the rest of the board.
District 5 covers the communities of Atascadero, a portion of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), California Valley, Creston, Garden Farms, Pozo, parts of San Luis Obispo, Templeton, and Santa Margarita.
Feature Image: (From left) Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno, Forum moderator and SLO Chamber President and CEO Jim Dantona, and Atascadero Mayor Pro Tem Susan Funk are shown at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce County Candidate Forum. Photo by Christianna Marks