Moreno runs unopposed for City mayor
The election this November marks a changing of the guard in Atascadero. For the first time in six years, the City will have a new leader as Tom O’Malley steps down after serving three terms as mayor. O’Malley became the City’s first elected mayor in 2012 and was re-elected in 2014 and 2016. With no other contender stepping forward to vie for Atascadero’s top spot, we already know that current City Council member Heather Moreno will be the next mayor. As mayor, Moreno said that she will continue to advocate for a strong local economy.
“During my six years on Council I’ve worked with the Economic Vitality Corporation of SLO County and been an active member of the Chamber of Commerce, advocating the business potential in Atascadero,” Moreno said in a statement provided to Colony Magazine. “These relationships with business and community leaders county-wide have contributed to the investment we are now seeing in our community. I will continue to build on these relationships to encourage additional investment in Atascadero bringing greater diversity to our local economy, removing obstacles and developing incentives for businesses to call Atascadero home.”
Moreno also plans to advocate for fiscal responsibility, “reducing City regulations to make it easier for residents and business owners to get things done,” citizen engagement and transparency and building community partnerships.
“Atascadero is unique in the way we all work together,” Moreno said. “The business sector, residents and our City government collaborate to get things done and cultivate that quality of life we all enjoy. It’s a privilege serving our City and I take seriously the responsibilities of the office.”
Moreno’s move to the Mayor’s seat will leave her spot on the Council vacant along with that of Council member Brian Sturtevant who’s decided not to run for a third term. Three challengers have emerged to fill the two open seats on the Council: Mark Dariz, Susan Funk and Heather Newsom.
Mark Dariz is a sitting member of the Atascadero Planning Commission and an architect by trade. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Cal Poly in 1996 and has been working as a professional architect ever since. He was first appointed to the Atascadero Planning Commission in 2011 and was elected chairperson in 2015. He’s also served on the City’s Design Review Committee and the County’s Regional Transportation Advisory Committee.
“As an architect, and wheelchair user for more than 30 years, I brought valuable perspective to the Planning Commission,” Dariz told Colony Magazine. “I’m a member of Atascadero’s Kiwanis Club where I’ve served as president and currently serve as treasurer. I’ve seen first-hand the value of volunteer work helping children, the homeless and elderly. I will continue to support the vibrant volunteer spirit in our community.”
Dariz said that as a Council member, he would “model open and transparent public communication and work cohesively and respectfully with my Council colleagues.” He added that he would also “work with other community leaders to bring jobs and business to Atascadero to further enhance our economy and maintain our infrastructure,” and will “use my experience as an architect and Planning Commissioner to help guide development in a direction to strengthen the well being, history and economy of our City.”
“I have the most experience,” Dariz said when asked why he’s the best candidate for the Council. “I’ve been on the Planning Commission for eight years along with other committees… I think my experience kind of speaks for itself. In addition, I’d like to say that I think my architectural background is going to lend itself well to the direction the City is trying to go currently with the development and trying to improve downtown and whatnot and I just think my architecture background will lend a good perspective to that.”
Dariz moved to the area in 1991 and to Atascadero in 2003. He’s been married to his wife Sue for 27 years and has two children — Amanda, 22, and CJ, 17.
An Atascadero resident for the past 10 years, Susan Funk said she decided to run for Council after her son Jaron left for college to “use her talents and dedication to service to build a stronger Atascadero.” Funk said that she’s running to bring a fresh voice to the City Council and wants everyone in Atascadero to have a role in shaping the City’s future.
“We’ve been waiting too long for good things to happen,” Funk said. “People want a healthy downtown — a cohesive core area with spaces where people can gather, eat and shop. My vision for a vibrant downtown includes experiences that bring people together — music, theater and events as well as food and drink. A downtown full of customers will attract the local shops that make it special. Let’s be creative. A dentist’s office could have a comedy club upstairs or be relocated over a new restaurant.”
Funk is looking to work collaboratively and transparently with businesses and citizens, she said, and will host Citizen’s Forums on key issues to “better reflect everyone’s interests and ideas,” if elected.
“It’s time we worked together to meet our city’s 21st-century challenges — in jobs, housing, roads, public safety and thriving neighborhoods,” she said. “Let’s use water and energy efficiently to benefit taxpayers and our planet. Let’s build a local economy strong enough to support the community we want
Funk owned a business, the Kailos Group, for 25 years doing management consulting for healthcare providers and companies and previously served as a hospital administrator. She has a Master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University with a certificate in public management.
Funk lives in Atascadero with her husband Gordon Fugley and has a long history of involvement in local schools, civic organizations and professional societies.
“I have the openness and energy that our community deserves and the business expertise that it needs,” Funk said. “I have a lot of experience working with a great variety of people and it makes it easier for me to listen well and engage people and develop solutions. I know how to get things done.”
An Atascadero resident since 2015, businesswoman and accounting specialist Heather Newsom said that she is running for City Council to “make a difference in our community and help shape the future of Atascadero for generations to come.”
Newsom said that she immediately fell in love with Atascadero after moving to the city and wants to maintain the family-oriented character she found here. She has been active in the community as a member of the Atascadero Parks and Recreation Commission, serving and treasurer for the Atascadero Greyhound Foundation, secretary to the Atascadero Kiwanis Club and as a volunteer coach at Atascadero High School.
As the owner of an accounting business, Newsom said she has been helping businesses for 16 years and understands the challenges they face.
“I will collaborate with businesses in our community to integrate their values and experience into our everyday procedures and implement policies that support opportunities for their success with the ultimate goal of enhancing our entire community’s well-being,” Newsom said. “We must support our emergency services, our parks and recreational resources and all of the basic services that make life safe and enjoyable for our community.”
Before launching her business providing accounting consulting for businesses, Newsom studied business law, business communications and accounting at the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Alaska at Anchorage and the Metropolitan State University of Denver. She is a certified ProAdvisor for QuickBooks, QuickBooks Advance, Point of Sale and Advance.
“I feel I can make the biggest difference in the community,” Newsom said when asked why she’s the right candidate for the Atascadero City Council. “I’m currently active in several organizations, some that support our youth and some that are making the community a better place. I fell in love with Atascadero and I want to maintain a community that is family-friendly and is a good place to live as well as the quality of life for my children.”