It was more like a love-in instead of a council candidate debate last week.
All five candidates on the ballot for Atascadero City Council this November love Atascadero, welcome virtually any business that wants to come here and are willing to lift some development restrictions in advance of its arrival.
And at least two hopefuls, Chuck Ward and Sandy Jack, would like to stand firm in opposing any new “green” uniform building code standards that they believe hurt business.
Councilman Tom O’Malley, seeking a third term on the council, will share the ballot with challengers Ward, Jack, Brian Sturtevant and Bret Heinemann.
Ward, Jack and Sturtevant are members of the city Planning Commission. Heinemann is also a candidate for a seat on the local school board and was in the council race once before.
The five hopefuls welcome major commercial development at Del Rio Road and Highway 101 (which may include a Walmart), the Colony Square project (which is going to be anchored by a 10-screen theater), and more, such as restaurants at both the downtown and Del Rio Road locations.
The questions, which were frankly rather benign and safe for all the candidates, were read by City Clerk Marcia Torgerson. She is running unopposed for the clerk’s position, which she has held for the past 14 years.
Only the city treasurer candidates, incumbent Joe Modica and challenger David Bentz, disagreed over how the city’s investment dollars, close to $30 million, should be used.
I have nothing against any of the candidates.
I believe they all love their community and want to see it not only survive the current economic quagmire, but also rise out of it stronger and more fiscally solvent.
They’re putting all their bets on expanded commercial development.
They all welcome the annexation of the Eagle Ranch property with its added homes, streets, parks, hiking trails and commercial/retail opportunities.
What worries me is that with Ellen Beraud leaving the council, who now will pause during a council session and wonder about the environment, about whether there is enough water beneath us to sustain more housing and whether this city should be working with green construction rules and regulations instead of fighting them?
Regardless of the outcome of the November election, current council members Mayor Roberta Fonzi, Jerry Clay and Bob Kelley will be joined by two more like-minded individuals who are going to welcome with open arms development big and small to this community.
That might be good for the city’s bottom dollar.
But it might not be good for Atascadero as envisioned by its founder, Edward Gardner Lewis, as we celebrate the 97th anniversary of the founding during this year’s Colony Days (Oct. 10 to 16).
Reach Lon Allan at 466-8529 or firstname.lastname@example.org.