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Atascadero mayor retiring, and a councilwoman hopes to replace him

Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley is retiring and has endorsed Councilwoman Heather Moreno to succeed him.
Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley is retiring and has endorsed Councilwoman Heather Moreno to succeed him.

In November, Atascadero residents will elect a new mayor for the first time in six years.

Mayor Tom O’Malley recently told The Tribune he will not run for a fourth elected term. He became the city’s first elected mayor in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2016.

Prior to 2012, Atascadero’s City Council appointed a new member to act as mayor every year. O’Malley — who served as a councilman for 10 years, starting in 2002 — was appointed mayor in 2005 and 2010.

“We’ve got such a strong council,” O’Malley said. “It’s a good time to sail off into the sunset.”

O’Malley endorsed Councilwoman Heather Moreno, who announced her mayoral candidacy last week, to succeed him.

“I’ve always said if someone better than me comes along, I’ll support them,” he said. “I can truly say that’s the case this time.”

Moreno, who owns a health and wellness consulting firm, served on the city’s Planning Commission from 2008 to 2010. She was appointed to the City Council in 2012 to replace O’Malley after he became mayor, and voters elected her for a second term in 2014.

On Monday, Moreno said the mayor’s position would be “the best way to serve the community that’s become my home.” She said she’s not currently aware of any other challengers running for mayor.

According to her website, Moreno has already received endorsements from all of her fellow council members, in addition to O’Malley and San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Debbie Arnold, who represents the district that includes Atascadero.

If she’s elected mayor, Moreno said she wants to “continue what (she’s) been doing” and focus on building a “strong, diverse economy” in Atascadero. She also said it’s important to make sure the city manages its budget wisely.

“I just feel a lot of things starting to fall into place,” she said. “I want to facilitate that.”

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden

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