Interview with Rich Atkinson, candidate, 2008 Mission Viejo city council

Mission Viejo Planning Commissioner Rich Atkinson and I had a friendly chat this afternoon during which we discussed his initial focus as a candidate for the 2008 Mission Viejo city council. As someone who has frequently attended our city council meetings since day one, I have not met, seen or spoken to eight year MV resident Atkinson previously. He was appointed by Mayor Kelley to replace Neil Lonsinger who stepped down from that appointed Board position in 2006 saying he “would not seek a new term on the Commission.”

Rich said he wants to “continue with (the) progress made in public safety and make sure that it continues.” He went on by saying that as a member of the city traffic subcommittee he “wants to improve traffic flow” and that his desire would be to be “part of the council that works with State and Federal Agencies to get funding.”

Having served on the Planning Commission for nearly two years, during which time the Murray Center expansion was in final construction, he does not remember any of the 13 Change Orders being presented to him in any Commission meetings.

Another recent CIP that I have posted about is our Montanoso rec center where, after the project was completed, our city manager is now requesting upwards of $1 million in additional funding for the locker room. Here again he had no opinion or input stating “this could be an administrative approval” which would bypass the commission.

An expenditure that you have seen me question on this blog is the city decision to spend $300,000 to $350,000, or more, to build a float for the Jan 1 Rose parade. Rich responded on that topic by saying “if I had been on the city council we would have thought that through more–I don’t see how a float in the Parade promotes the city of Mission Viejo.”

As to his endorsements Rich said that in addition to Mayor Trish Kelley, he has endorsements from Mayor Paul Glaab and council Member Linda Lindholm of the city of Laguna Niguel. He also mentioned Ken Parker from the city of Los Alamitos.

Note: While I have received unsubstantiated citizen inputs that councilman Frank Ury has encouraged him to run, he did admit that a meeting with Councilman Ury is on the Agenda which may result in an endorsement. As of now Rich said that he is not running with anyone else.

As to funding the race he said the campaign budget has been set at $68,000.

Folks. It’s still early. Time will shake out any additional “nuggets” of further interest.

About Larry Gilbert