Moving forward with Wal-Mart/The Annex and Colony Square as a way to build city revenues for road maintenance and other projects were among the hot topics discussed Wednesday night at an election forum with Atascadero’s five City Council candidates.
The panel spoke to a full room at the City Hall council chambers, answering nearly three hours of questions.
The event was hosted through the city’s Building Public Trust Committee — a group established to encourage transparency in city government. City Clerk Marcia Torgerson moderated the event as an independent. She sought questions from the public in the weeks before. Torgerson is also the unopposed city clerk candidate, a position she’s held in Atascadero for 14 years. The city didn’t pay for a moderator this year because of cutbacks, she said.
Two of the five seats on the Atascadero City Council are up for re-election.
The candidates are incumbent Councilman Tom O’Malley; Planning Commissioners Chuck Ward, Sandy Jack and Brian Sturtevant; and businessman/writer Bret Heinemann.
The candidates largely agreed on many of the questions posed to them, each touting the future of downtown as the most exciting upturn for Atascadero. The forum lacked major disagreements among the candidates. Each had ideas on how to improve economic stability.
Sturtevant wants to see the energy put into courting new development shared with existing business owners, he said, specifically in the issues of signage and parking.
Jack would like to see the city’s Redevelopment Agency partner with private business, and for the council to develop a more aggressive timetable for revitalizing downtown.
“I think it’s time for some new thinking and some new ideas,” he said.
Heinemann says projects such as realigning Highway 41 East make it easier for new businesses and tourists to come to town.
O’Malley plans to focus on tourism to raise transit occupancy taxes as income for the city.
Ward wants to work to get family restaurants in the Colony Square and Wal-Mart/The Annex projects. He would also like to see more balance on the City Council, he added.
Watch the forum
You can watch a rerun of the forum on Channel 20 in Atascadero at various times and on the city’s website, www.atascadero .org.