Meet the candidates in the Atascadero mayoral race

Posted at 10:18 AM, Sep 24, 2020

Retired Atascadero High School teacher and local business owner, Jerry Tanimoto, Atascadero native, business owner, and Marine Corps veteran Josh Donovan, and licensed CPA, wellness services owner and current mayor, Heather Moreno, are on the ballot for Atascadero mayor for the 2020 election.

"I love the work that we've been doing and I want to continue building a strong and diverse local economy," incumbent, Heather Moreno said. "I want to continue sustaining us in this spirit of physical stewardship and there's a lot of great things happening here and I want to help finish those out."

Moreno, who brought the first co-working space to northern San Luis Obispo County and an updated disaster and readiness plan to the city, says an initiative for her re-election lies in making Atascadero a balanced economy.

"We need to have more people here during the day and that will feed into our restaurant, retail centers. The more businesses you have, the more restaurant, retail, then that brings more business and that continues on each other," Moreno said.

It's what challenger and Atascadero native, Josh Donovan says is going to take in a shift in the leadership approach to achieve.

"Atascadero needs revenue," Donovan said. "We are an income-starved city and I'm a big advocate of exploring the pre-existing revenue streams that are available to us prior to taxing our residents and that's kind of the crossroads we're at right now."

While ECHO, a homeless shelter in Atascadero, remains a major resource in the city, opponent Jerry Tanimoto says homelessness in Atascadero remains an overwhelming issue that could be mitigated through additional services from San Luis Obispo County Mental Health and Transitions Mental Health Association.

"Once we can solve that problem, at least minimize homelessness and that kind of thing, we're going to be a lot better," Tanimoto said.

Tanimoto says tackling the homeless crisis could help stimulate the economy.

"I think more and more businesses will want to come to Atascadero and start something here in terms of the community and its economic growth," Tanimoto said.

When it comes to local law enforcement, Tanimoto is passionate about adding additional officers to the Atascadero Police Department.

"It hasn't changed, and yet we've doubled the population, expecting them to do their job," Tanimoto said. "Kind of hard when you have three guys per shift, so that's kind of tied in with the mental health situations in terms of the homeless. How can they do their job when there are not enough people and they aren't really trained for that?"

Moreno says the police department is assisted through a community action team that addresses the homeless population, but she plans to do more.

"I'd like to increase funding for that because I believe the more touches we get, the more we increase trust with those individuals, and then the more likely they are to take services," Moreno said.

Donovan says allocating funds towards more infrastructure could help mitigate homelessness.

"If we were to bring in some sort of navigation center or warm and cooling shelter that could be a facility 365 days a year that gives us some infrastructure where APD can come and enforce that daytime camping in some of those visible areas, it creates a location that we can now direct people towards," Donovan said.

Election Day is November 3.

More with the candidates -
Heather Moreno:

Interview with Atascadero mayoral candidate Heather Moreno

Jerry Tanimoto:

Interview with Atascadero mayoral candidate Jerry Tanimoto

Josh Donovan:

Interview with Atascadero mayoral candidate Josh Donovan