Voters in Lompoc will have a familiar matchup when they choose their next mayor.
Incumbent Jenelle Osborne is seeking her third two-year term as mayor and has been challenged by James Mosby, a former council member.
It’s the only city candidate race on the ballot this fall since incumbents Dirk Starbuck and Victor Vega were not contested in their bid to serve another four years.
During a forum sponsored by the Lompoc-Vandenberg Branch of the American Association of University Women last month, Mosby and Osborne faced off on assorted issues.
In answering the question of why he’s running for mayor again, Mosby listed a number of issues, adding, “The community we all love and enjoy deserves better.”
“Crime is rising rapidly and the majority of the residents no longer feel safe in our town,” Mosby said, ticking off the numbers of shootings and overdose deaths and contending that “murders are stacking up.”
“We really must make safety a priority. Just right off the bat, I’m running on solutions, not excuses,” he said, adding that he intended to add five more police officers.
He sounded a different tune from previous stints on the council, when he had heated exchanges with police and fire personnel during public meetings and criticized their raises.
Osborne noted that in the past two years the City Council has worked together, listened to one another and found compromises when differences arose, adding she hopes to see that cooperation continue.
“While, yes, we still have many issues that we need to address, and none of them are easy and they aren’t going to be solved overnight. There are some amazing results happening in the past two years,” Osborne said, adding, “I love Lompoc.”
She assembled a four-page document showing the two years of accomplishments “in light of what my opponent left behind — a restricted budget, trying to solve problems that didn’t exist.”
“There’s still a lot of work to do, and I want to continue to do that work,” she said.
In answering a question regarding working with local, county, state and federal officials, Osborne said she would continue to build relationships at all levels even when political differences exist.
“I will continue doing what I’ve been doing,” she said.
She noted a recent afternoon spent with staff and Vandenberg Space Force Base leadership touring city facilities to help them better understand the full-service capability and the improvements made to benefit both the community and the base.
“I will continue to work with our council. As you’ve seen over the past two years, we’ve begun to work together, not against each other,” she said adding the council since 2020 has shown respect to staff.
Mosby noted his prior efforts saw replacement of the Robinson Bridge replacement on Highway 246 moved up 10 years earlier than once planned.
He added that he would work with a “stern, direct attitude, not willing to be accepting a lot of the movement the South County has upon us, which is ‘Lompoc just stay over there.’”
“If people think that’s not the attitude, just remember where our beach is now. Our beach has been taken from us, our estuary, which I was able to successfully get it open for two days a couple years ago. We need to continue to be working with them in a stern movement in a successful way,” Mosby said, adding that he has a good relationship with most of the county staff.
During his unsuccesful 2020 campaign for the council, Mosby posed in a kayak at the Santa Ynez River Estuary and sent out a press release declaring the estuary open. That prompted Santa Barbara County officials to say the area remained closed to recreational uses.
Additionally, Vandenberg leaders expressed concern about security issues as county officials said the military controls the “vast majority” of the land around that area, including parts of the waterway.
Other topics covered during the forum included housing, economic development, city commissions, workforce development and more. The 30-minute forum sponsored by the Lompoc-Vandenberg Branch of the American Association of University Women can be seen in the first 30 minutes of the video posted here.
Voters from across the city will chose the mayor for the next two years. The city switched to district-based elections for the four council seats but kept the mayor as an at-large slot.
Mosby and Osborne faced off in 2018 with her winning the seat by 212 votes. She received 50.58% compared with Mosby’s 48.54%.
Two years later, Councilman Victor Vega, with Mosby’s endorsement, challenged Osborne, who won again with 53.57% compared with 45.75%.
In that same election, Mosby lost his bid for another four-year term on the council to newcomer Jeremy Ball, who captured 58.51% to the incumbent’s 41.25% in 2020.