Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne is seeking reelection for a third term in office. Why should you chose her instead of her competitor?
If you have witnessed many of the City Council meetings in the past couple of years, I have noted a change in the tone of meetings. As mayor, Osborne is responsible for the orderly flow of the meeting in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order.
What does that mean? Well, she isn’t a dictator, so it means she recognizes each of the councilmembers and allows them time to make their case for or against a proposal. When her opponent was present in the past as a councilmember, he always tried to dominate the discussion and frequently filibustered the process.
Mayor Osborne has sought to unite the council, and when individual council members wish to make changes to staff proposals, she tries to negotiate those changes into the final resolution or the final decision. This change has resulted in numerous 5-0 votes primarily because one person didn’t force his/her will on the others.
During Osborne’s current term, Lompoc has faced some challenges. Three of the most visible challenges are the appearance of the city; what to do with the growing homeless population; and the condition of city facilities and parks.
In 2017 the former council majority led by her opponent, began eviscerating the municipal code enforcement program by the elimination of funding for a code enforcement officer and all administrative support. Then in 2019 they changed a longstanding city policy to allow the release of the names of people reporting most non-compliant conditions if a member of the public requested the information.
This led to a deterioration of neighborhoods, commercial properties, and the city in general. Osborne recently proposed a change to eliminate the public release of names of complainants and restore funding for a senior code enforcement officer and supporting administrative staff.
These measures passed on a 5-0 vote which included two council members who had previously supported elimination of the program.
Resolving the “homeless problem” is a far more complex issue. Even though the blight created by their camps and endless piles of trash is a direct impact on the city, it is the county that is responsible for providing housing and health/welfare services.
Through her positive relationship with the Board of Supervisors and the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, Osborne has been able to persuade them to invest funding to improve the availability of those services to help reduce the number of people who are homeless.
But it seems that as more homeless are housed and taken care of, Lompoc still feels the increase of an expanding need; it’s a never-ending struggle that’s been going on for at least 40 years. But Osborne’s willingness to advocate and request that a balance of these services be administered across the county, not just in Lompoc, is reducing the burden on our community.
While homelessness will never be eliminated, its impacts can be reduced, and the struggle shared instead of dropped at our doorstep.
On her campaign website Osborne says: “The City of Lompoc was incorporated 134 years ago. Some of our streets, water, and sewage lines, even our parks, are almost as old. We have over 200 acres of public parks in need of repair and improvement.”
So, you see this is a tough nut to crack.
She goes on, “There is one area that government can create jobs: by building, supporting, and expanding parks and infrastructure. Along with supporting and modernizing our infrastructure, supporting public parks by keeping and improving our existing parks will improve our quality of life. Doing these things means investing in ourselves and our community.”
The solution here is funding; during her tenure, grants have been received to upgrade some of the parks. For example, a significant renovation of a children’s play/exercise area at Beatty Park was accomplished with a California Proposition 68 grant. This improvement not only benefitted Lompoc, it established the first all-inclusive playground in Santa Barbara County.
This early success has led to additional “shovel-ready” projects to be submitted for various funding sources. Mayor Osborne’s willingness to work with her political counterparts, set aside partisan politics, and build relationships with these decisionmakers has garnered Lompoc nearly $1.3 million in federal appropriations for Pioneer Park, and another to renovate the skate park.
During the last two years she used her time on Santa Barbara County Association of Governments to shift the discussion of the long-awaited Robinson Bridge retrofit from all talk to budget approval and work beginning on the first phase the project.
While we can’t say for certain what will happen during the next two years, you can be certain Osborne will continue her positive influence at improving our city. Currently 4 of the 5 Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors trustees endorse Osborne’s reelection bid.
What’s Mayor Jenelle Osborne got that her opponent doesn’t? She is a consensus builder and an excellent ambassador for our city at regional, statewide and federal venues.
— Ron Fink, a Lompoc resident since 1975, is retired from the aerospace industry. He has been following Lompoc politics since 1992, and after serving for 23 years appointed to various Lompoc commissions, retired from public service. The opinions expressed are his own.