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SLO County's 5th District race heats up with fiery mailers 

Candidates in the San Luis Obispo County 5th District supervisor race leveled accusations against each other through flyers paid for by their respective political actions committees (PACs).

"Tries to hide her true colors, but won't stand up to her extreme right-wing allies, the Trump and MAGA-style Republicans who have made our Board of Supervisors a partisan battleground instead of solving real problems," a mailer from Atascadero City Councilmember Susan Funk declared about her opponent, Atascadero Mayor Heather Moreno.

Funk's flyer landed in some residents' mailboxes in early February. She told New Times on Feb. 9 that the mailer was tailored toward Democrats living in the area.

"We specifically look at the partisan issues in part because that's one of the things that voters ask of us," she said. "In every election that I've run in, it's just a really common question at people's doors, 'Is she Republican or a Democrat?' People want to know the perspective that we're coming from."

click to enlarge POINTED FINGERS The political action committees of 5th District supervisor race candidates Susan Funk and Heather Moreno funded flyers rife with accusations—that Funk is in favor of defunding the police (pictured) and that Moreno is a denier of climate change. - IMAGE COURTESY OF HEATHER MORENO PAC; PHOTO BY CAMILLIA LANHAM
  • Image Courtesy Of Heather Moreno PAC; Photo By Camillia Lanham
  • POINTED FINGERS The political action committees of 5th District supervisor race candidates Susan Funk and Heather Moreno funded flyers rife with accusations—that Funk is in favor of defunding the police (pictured) and that Moreno is a denier of climate change.

Headlined "True colors," the flyer also lists Funk's support for reproductive rights, belief in climate change, and promise to protect local open spaces while spotlighting Moreno's alleged denial of climate change, her lack of support from the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund, and that her allies reportedly include Trump supporters and large real estate developers.

"Her position also is that redistricting should be left in the hands of the supervisors themselves," Funk said.

Funk stressed the need to ensure access to reproductive health care, citing Planned Parenthood California Central Coast's 2018 closure of a satellite clinic in Paso Robles. Prior New Times reporting found that the closure happened after its partner, Peoples' Self-Help Housing of SLO County, received "hostile communications" from anti-Planned Parenthood activists.

Moreno told New Times on Feb. 9 that the repeated mention of protecting reproductive freedom is a scare tactic.

"She keeps bringing up reproductive freedom, and what really bothers me about that is she's scaring women ... to think that their reproductive choices are going to be taken away from them," Moreno said. "You and I know that abortion is enshrined in the California Constitution."

Moreno added that the flyer's allegation about her removing all references to climate science from Atascadero's climate action plan is a "complete lie."

"What we needed to do was remove some of the very burdensome commitments that had been in the initial [plan] like to build 25 miles of sidewalk and virtually eliminate our downtown parking spaces," she said.

According to past New Times reporting, in 2014 Moreno and then City Councilmember Roberta Fonzi leafed through the 261-page plan with an intention to remove language discussing human impacts on climate change and the benefits that decreased greenhouse gas emissions would bring to the community.

Funk was also on the receiving end of critical flyers. Most recently, Moreno's PAC funded a pamphlet that alerted voters to a national grassroots movement named Indivisible endorsing Funk.

"Susan Funk is endorsed by extremists that want to defund the police," it read.

The flyer quoted commentary from Indivisible's website to stand in solidarity with Black lives: "We believe it is critical to defund the police ... ."

Indivisible's website labels electing "progressive leaders" and defeating the "Trump agenda" as its mission. Funk told New Times on Feb. 20 that it's the local autonomous chapter of Indivisible that supports her, and the national one cannot because it doesn't endorse local candidates. Her website notes an endorsement from Indivisible: Rapid Response Team SLO. Its spokesperson John Lamb donated $200 to her campaign in 2023, according to campaign filing documents.

While Moreno said that it's disingenuous to separate the local and national arms of the group, Lamb told New Times that local Indivisible groups are autonomous. Though it uses information from the national group, he said, the SLO County chapter has no financial or obligatory ties to it.

"Indivisible National does not take a position on local elections, which makes the Moreno radio ads and mailers a total lie," he said. "At the local level, our group has never supported the 2020 Indivisible campaign to defund our police because police violence has not been a problem in our community."

Funk said she opposes defunding the police. She referenced working with Moreno in 2020 to put Measure D-20 on the ballot for Atascadero. Passed by nearly 59 percent of voters, the 1 percent sales tax funds emergency services and some general city services.

"That money has enabled us to add positions to our police, pay our police a competitive wage for the first time, be able to add mental health support into our Police Department," Funk said. "We were at risk of attracting officers who would choose our community for their career for the wrong reasons ... who, frankly, would be attracted to our community because it's so white, and that none of that would be healthy for our community or police force." Δ

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