Brennler, Luna won’t run again
August 1, 2008
By KAREN VELIE
Atascadero Mayor Mike Brennler won’t seek a second term on the Atascadero City Council because of health concerns.
And council member George Luna said he will also retire from the council
Relatively unknown before his first attempt at public office, Brennler ran for a two-year seat promising to address local corruption. With three seats up for grabs in the 2006 election, he tallied the highest percentage of votes.
“From day one I’ve always known I was in a position, if I was compromising my health or the welfare of my family, I would have to leave the public arena,” Brennler said. “Politics is an ugly business.”
During his tenure, Luna voted to make development pay for itself and for downtown redevelopment. He approved the Atascadero Road Plan, and was involved in balancing the city’s budget and avoiding municipal layoffs in the early 1990s. Luna has been a majority favorite during the past decade.
How might these changes affect Atascadero? Let’s recap the past few years:
April 2006: The Rottman Group announced plans to build a super Wal-Mart at the corner of El Camino Real and Del Rio Road;
May 2006: City officials denied prior knowledge of negotiations with the box-store giant;
June 2006: Opponents and proponents of Wal-Mart began a battle that still rages today;
July 2006: E-mails leaked to the media reveal city officials and staffs were negotiating with the retail giant in 2005;
November 2006: Newcomers Brennler and Ellen Beraud, along with incumbent Tom O’Malley, won seats on the council. Advocating transparency in government and reform, Brennler and Beraud immediately encountered a volatile opposition;
January 2007: Prompted by Brennler and Beraud, the council voted to televise council meetings. In prior years, Luna’s motions to televise gatherings were always unsuccessful;
June 2007: Brennler asked law enforcement to investigate whether developer Kelly Gearhart committed fraud in not paying development fees. Gearhart is currently a defendant in a lawsuit alleging he bilked investors out of money;
February 2008: City Attorney Brian Pierik informed Brennler the FBI is investigating the city. The ongoing FBI investigation is said by sources to be focusing on possible under-the-table payoffs to, or overly-cozy relationships between, upper level city management. The probe reportedly includes both elected and non-elected officials and some private individuals;
May 2008: At a “public trust and campaign reform” workshop, O’Malley challenged Brennler to handle a dispute regarding council procedures “out in the parking lot.” Council members and a few citizens engaged in frequent heated disputes ranging from arguments about Wal-Mart, to battles over council decorum.
Three seats will be open in the November election.
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