Elections

In Atascadero, Heather Newsom and Susan Funk lead race for two open council seats

Newcomers Heather Newsom and Susan Funk appeared headed for seats on the Atascadero City Council Tuesday night, running neck and neck with a decent lead over the third candidate in the race.

As of 12:43 a.m. with 100 percent of precincts reporting, Newsom led with 35.2 percent of the vote, trailed closely by Funk with 34.3 percent.

They were followed by Mark Dariz in third place with 30.3 percent.

Councilwoman Heather Moreno, who ran unopposed, was elected mayor. Moreno will replace Tom O’Malley to become the city’s second elected mayor.

Moreno spent part of election night at the San Luis Obispo County Republican Party headquarters in Atascadero, and said she’s honored to become the city’s second elected mayor: “I’m just excited to see what we can do together.”

Moreno said adding local jobs will be a major goal for her first term.

“I’m really focused on creating a really strong, diverse economy,” she said, adding that she’s excited to see growth in Atascadero’s downtown area.

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Who will join the City Council?

Of the three candidates competing for two council seats one is a current planning commissioner and two are newcomers.

Dariz has served on Atascadero’s Planning Commission since 2011 and is the most experienced candidate of the three.

Funk and Newsom are both new to the city’s political scene.

Funk gathered with her supporters Tuesday night at Kochi Korean BBQ & Shabu Shabu in Atascadero, while Newsom and her family joined the crowd at Republican party headquarters.

Funk said she ran for City Council to make sure everyone in Atascadero has a voice in city politics.

“The incredible team of people and the broad range of support through the campaign has been heartwarming,” she said.

Should she be elected, Funk said she wants to engage the business community at a grassroots level to get them involed in policy making. “Let’s find ways to have these dialogues when people can really shape what’s going on,” Funk said.

Newsom said it’s been a long but worthwhile election and she’s happy she got the chance to make new friends and meet residents throughout the city during her campaign. “I feel like we did the best we could,” she said.

Like Moreno and Funk, Newsom said she wants to focus on building up the local economy if elected.

For more on the candidates’ election platforms, check out our article: “Where Atascadero candidates stand on Sunken Gardens, business development.”

Ballot measures

Atascadero residents also voted on two ballot measures — one that would lengthen the mayoral term and another that would tax cannabis businesses.

Measure J-18 would change the mayor’s term from two years to four. As of 12:43 a.m., 64.98 percent of voters had voted “no,” and 35.02 percent “yes.”

Measure E-18, a cannabis business tax, had 73.17 percent voting “yes” and 26.83 percent voting “no.”

Measure E-18 would allow the city to charge cannabis business owners $10 per canopy square foot for cultivation, 10 percent of gross receipts for retail businesses and 6 percent of gross receipts for all other businesses.

The tax would generate up to $500,000, which would go toward general revenue purposes such as police, fire and parks, according to the ballot measure.

For more information on North County cities’ ballot measures, check out our story: “From cannabis to sales taxes, here are the ballot measures facing North County voters.”

This article will be updated as more results are announced, so check back with The Tribune for further updates.

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseymholden
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