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Tuesday, December 18 , 2018, 1:52 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º


Campaign For Lompoc Mayor Heats up Weeks Before Filing Period Opens

The campaign to become Lompoc’s next mayor is off and running weeks before the filing period begins, with pointed barbs thrown by the two candidates who faced off for the city’s top elected post two years ago. 

Bob Lingl, elected mayor in 2014, launched his campaign for re-election to a second term Saturday before an audience of 40 supporters on the steps of the Veterans Memorial Building.

Lingl’s announcement sets up a repeat of the 2014 mayoral race when he unseated two-term Mayor John Linn in his bid for a third term. 

Linn threw his hat into the campaign ring on June 3, days before the Lompoc City Council was set to reconsider an earlier vote to stop using city funds to complete required environmental studies and other work for a controversial proposed motorsports park he has spearheaded. 

Bob Lingl Click to view larger
Bob Lingl

Lingl began his remarks Saturday by explaining he was announcing early in order to address what he called “incorrect statements” by Linn.

“First, John stated that he’s running against me because I voted to kill the motorsports project,” Lingl said. “I didn’t kill the motorsports park. I have never voted against the project. I have consistently voted against spending city money, general funds, for this project.

"John Linn and the foundation have always said city money would never be involved in this project until recently. That’s when I said no.”

The mayoral race has already heated up with charges of who was responsible for new businesses and economic growth.  

John Linn Click to view larger
John Linn

In his campaign announcement, Linn criticized Lingl’s “lack of leadership,” saying, “since 2014, Lompoc has lost its business-friendly reputation and we must get it back.”

“In the last two years the city of Lompoc has had an administration that has accomplished very little. Instead of the stagnation of the current administration, I will begin where I left off in 2014, with bold and proactive leadership that gets results,” Linn said in a prepared statement. 

Lingl cited a 50-percent reduction in the unemployment rate, more than 1,000 new housing unit permits waiting to be built, and new construction permits for the Hilton Garden Inn, the Habit Burger Grill and Chipotle Mexican Grill as evidence of the city’s growth under his tenure.

“Even though there is still work to be done, Lompoc is doing better today than it was when I took office two years ago.” Lingl said, citing new businesses, increased sales tax revenue and lower unemployment.

Lingl also refuted Linn’s assertion that he was responsible for bringing the new Hilton Garden Inn to town.

“The facts are that the Hilton Garden Inn was approved when I was on the Planning Commission in July of 2008, two years before John ran for mayor,” Lingl said, adding the building permit expired in 2010 and the current permit was issued in 2016.

“John likes to take credit for things,” Lingl said.

Linn, in his statement announcing his candidacy, identified the renovation and maintenance of the city’s sports fields and parks, new housing and business growth as key issues he will work on as mayor, along with controlling utility rates.

“Spiraling utility costs must be controlled while utility infrastructure is upgraded,” Linn said.

Lingl countered that Linn needed to “put on his remembering ears” when he talks about utility costs. 

“John needs to remember who was mayor when these rates were approved four years ago,” he said. 

Linn also criticized Lingl’s leadership on plans to fund and build a new fire station — supported by Lingl — that were rejected by a 3-2 council vote earlier this year.

“Because of a lack of leadership, Lompoc spent $140,000 planning a failed $30 million fire station project without any council participation. The lesson to be learned is that the council must be involved in planning projects at every step of the process.” Linn said.

Lingl was elected to the City Council in 2008 and 2012 and won his first campaign for mayor in November 2014. A Navy veteran, Lingl previously served as a city planning commissioner and is retired from the Lompoc Valley Medical Center, where he worked as clinical lab director.

A small business owner, Linn has lived in Lompoc since 1982. Linn won election as mayor in 2010, after narrowly losing to former mayor Dick DeWees in 2008.

Linn was re-elected in 2012, but lost his bid for a third term in 2014.

He is a co-founder and current chair of the nonprofit Lompoc Valley Parks, Recreation and Pool Foundation.

The filing period for nomination papers for the two-year mayoral term and for two four-year City Council seats is July 18 through Aug. 12, according to the city clerk’s office.

If an elected incumbent chooses not to run for re-election, the filing period is extended to Aug. 17 for newcomers. 

Noozhawk contributing writer Carol Benham is a longtime local journalist who lives in Lompoc. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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