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Tuesday November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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City of Atascadero
Measure J-18 Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


4,403 votes yes (34.24%)

8,456 votes no (65.76%)

100% of precincts reporting (16/16).

13,663 ballots counted.

Shall an ordinance be adopted that changes the term of office for the mayor from a two-year term to a four-year term?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

YES vote means

A “yes” vote on Measure J-18 would be a vote to change the term for an elected Mayor from two years to four years, effective as of the November 2020 General Municipal Election. 

NO vote means

A “no” vote on Measure J-18 would be a vote against changing the existing law, and the current two year term for an elected Mayor would remain the same.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Brian A. Pierik, City Attorney for the City of Atascadero

In some cities, the Mayor is not elected by the voters, but is a Council Member who is appointed to serve as Mayor by the City Council. 

The City of Atascadero has a different system where the Mayor is elected by the voters.  The existing law is set forth in the City of Atascadero’s Municipal Code, and provides that the Mayor of Atascadero is elected separately from the City Council, for a term of two years.

In contrast, the term for a City Council Member, who is elected, is four years. 

As a result of the difference in the Mayor’s term of office, there must be an election for the Mayor position every two years, instead of every four years compared to a Council Member.

Measure J-18 seeks to amend the City’s Municipal Code concerning the elected Mayor’s term from two years to four years, similar to the four year term for a City Council Member.  This change will be effective as of the November 2020 General Municipal Election.

A “yes” vote on Measure J-18 would be a vote to change the term for an elected Mayor from two years to four years, effective as of the November 2020 General Municipal Election. 

A “no” vote on Measure J-18 would be a vote against changing the existing law, and the current two year term for an elected Mayor would remain the same.

Pursuant to Elections Code section 9217, this measure requires a yes vote by a majority of the voters voting on this measure before it is approved.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

Measure J-18 is a common-sense reform to Atascadero’s city government. Measure J-18 does one simple thing: change the term of Mayor from 2 years to 4 years.

A four-year term gives the Mayor time to set goals and plan for the City’s needs, and it provides continuity of leadership to keep city government both stable and responsive to the voters. 

The current term structure creates an electoral imbalance by requiring one member of the governing body to run for a seat twice during the same four-year period, while the other members of the City Council are required to run only once. Additionally, the Mayor serves on a number of countywide commissions and committees where longevity in service on these boards, as well as stability in representation by the same individual, ensures that the needs and expectations of the City of Atascadero are consistently voiced.

Requiring a mayor to run every two years, means a significant amount of that person’s time and attention is on running for election as opposed to the job of running the City. This does not serve the public’s best interest.  A four-year term allows a mayor time to execute vision and agenda, allowing voters to assess accomplishments in the next election.

This suggested change does not impact the Mayor’s responsiveness to the people. Instead, it promotes stability and equality among all voting members of the City Council, and ensures continuity of representation on countywide boards.  

Vote “Yes” on Measure J-18 for common-sense reform in Atascadero.

s/ Tom O’Malley, Mayor           s/ Roberta Fonzi, Mayor Pro Tem            s/ Bob Wilkins

s/ Zoe Zappas                          s/ Kim Croft

Arguments AGAINST

In 2010, Atascadero voters chose to elect our Mayor, and specifically chose to have the Mayor serve a 2-year term rather than a 4-year term, 55.7% to 44.3%.  Now the first mayor elected under those terms and his colleagues are asking voters to change their minds and extend the mayor’s term to 4 years. 

There is no evidence that this change is needed.

  • A two-year term keeps our Mayor accountable to voters
  • Retaining a 2-year term for the mayor means that voters can choose the Mayor and 2 Council members (3 of 5 votes on the City Council) in every election
  • The mayor has more power than other Council members in setting the agenda and shaping the experience of people who come to their City Council to express their concerns
  • Six of seven cities in SLO County elect their mayors for 2-year terms
  • There has been no instability in governance with a 2-year mayor -- the incumbent mayor has been re-elected repeatedly
  • Atascadero is not losing any clout – our Mayor (elected for a 2-year term) currently serves as president of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments

Atascadero deserves a mayor who serves the whole community and leads a local government that is of, by and for the people.  A 2-year term for Atascadero’s Mayor gives voters more control over their government.  Who wants a mayor who feels less need to listen to the whole community because they won’t be up for re-election for 4 years?

s/ Susan Funk, Business Owner, Candidate for Atascadero City Council

Replies to Arguments FOR

Measure J-18 is far from a common-sense reform.  The original argument in 2010 for electing a mayor instead of rotating that responsibility annually among city council members was “we need to be like other cities in SLO County!” Since then we are exactly like 6 out of 7 cities in our county- Elected Mayor, 2-year term. 

Why fix something that’s not broken?  The problems Measure J-18 is supposed to solve do not actually exist.  In the past 8 years there has been no instability of leadership or continuity of representation in countywide governing bodies.  In fact, we have had only one Mayor in the past 8 years, repeatedly re-elected. A 2-year term for Mayor has not been an identified problem in any other city. Atascadero voters already chose a 2-year term even when the 4-year term was an option in past elections.

Voting "No" retains the current 2-year term for Mayor, so that 3 of 5 positions on the Council are up for re-election every election cycle. This system means your vote every 2 years has the power the change the direction of the city’s agenda.  It gives voters more reason to participate in every election.

A "Yes" vote on Measure J-18 transfers power from voters to politicians. We believe Atascadero is better served by a government that listens to voters.  Why would voters want to make this change just when the incumbent Mayor is retiring?  Vote "No."

s/ Ellen Beraud                        s/ Christina Asdel Cisneros                     


Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Measure J-18 changes the term of the elected Mayor from 2 years to 4 years.

Prior to 2010, the Atascadero City Council annually rotated the position of Mayor between Council Members. In 2010, the voters chose to have an elected Mayor, and established the term of office at two years.  Council Members continue to be elected to four-year terms of office. 

With a shorter term, if the elected Mayor desires to retain their office to continue to serve the community, provide continuity and complete important projects begun during the term, they are forced to campaign every two years at considerable personal expense.

Election campaigns for any office are expensive. Reaching out to voters and keeping the public informed requires considerable energy and resources. Engaging in an election campaign every two years forces a Mayor to devote an inordinate amount of time and money to a political campaign, instead of focusing on the issues and priorities of the City.

The expense of running campaigns every two years also discourages members of the public and other council members from seeking the office of elected Mayor. This is especially true for people of modest means.

If passed this November, Measure J-18 will not go into effect until the 2020 election.  It does not affect the current term or the term of the next elected Mayor, whose term will still be two years ending in 2020.

Vote “Yes” vote on Measure J-18.

s/ Brian Sturtevant, Councilmember                        s/ Mary Kay Mills                      s/ Ray Johnson

s/ Dawn Scherer Daner                                          s/ Lon Allan



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