Keep incumbents on the Atascadero City Council

Tribune endorses re-election of Roberta Fonzi, Bob Kelley

September 23, 2012 

  • ATASCADERO CITY COUNCIL

    Number of seats available: Two

    Term: Four years

    Salary: $300 per month

    Candidates: Roberta Fonzi, council member, Realtor; Bob Kelley, council member; Ann Ketcherside, business manager

    The Tribune endorses: Roberta Fonzi and Bob Kelley

Incumbent Roberta Fonzi is knowledgeable, articulate and has a wealth of experience in city and regional planning, including 10 years of service on the city Planning Commission.

While we haven’t agreed with her on every issue, we appreciate her ability to analyze a situation and to vote in a thoughtful, sensible and compassionate manner.

She’s a strong conservative, yet she has an ability to vote outside the box. While on the Planning Commission, she once described herself as a real estate agent who sometimes takes the side of slow-growthers. That’s a fair assessment.

Fonzi is pro-business — she has been a big supporter of Walmart, for example — but she hasn’t rubber-stamped every development.

She decries overregulation and red tape — she proudly points out that the city has reduced its business license application from 11 pages to one — but not at the expense of good planning.

For example, during the boom years of residential construction, she was a strong supporter of affordable housing and voted to enforce city rules requiring developers to include lower-priced homes in their projects.

When we endorsed Fonzi for council four years ago, we had this to say: “We especially like her ability to champion a cause without being overbearing.”

In a city with its fair share of contentious issues, that remains one of her key strengths.

The Tribune strongly endorses Roberta Fonzi for a second term on the Atascadero City Council.

• • •

Like Roberta Fonzi, Bob Kelley also served on the city Planning Commission prior to being elected to the council four years ago. He serves as appointed mayor. (Starting this year, Atascadero voters will be electing their mayors.)

Kelley proudly describes Atascadero as the most business-friendly city in the county. We admire his enthusiasm and dedication to the city’s economic development. He’s also personable and easy to approach.

However, we have scratched our heads over some of Kelley’s decisions over the past four years.

For example, at the time when there was a misguided proposal to build two 10-screen theaters, Kelley was the only one on the council who voted against requiring an economic feasibility study. Given what was at stake, both for the city and for the theater developers, it would have been foolish to allow both projects to move forward without a thorough understanding of the market.

And when a countywide ban on plastic bags was approved several months ago, Kelley was among those who suggested that the city consider withdrawing from the county Integrated Waste Management Authority in protest — amove that would have made Atascadero residents ineligible for countywide programs, such as hazardous waste drop-offs, and would have required the city to take on record-keeping requirements to show it was meeting state waste-reduction mandates.

That said, the only other candidate running, Ann Ketcherside, lacks the political experience needed to be a viable candidate.

The Tribune gives a qualified endorsement to Bob Kelley. In his zeal to make Atascadero “business friendly,” we believe he sometimes fails to look at the big picture and consider all of his constituents. We strongly urge him to take a broader view in the future.

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