Amid a tumultuous 2020, Lompoc City Councilman Jim Mosby said he believes the next several months will be critical in shaping the direction that Lompoc heads in the future.
It’s because of that belief, he said, that he was motivated to make sure he maintains a key role in that process.
Mosby, who was initially appointed to the City Council in 2014 and then re-elected in 2016, filed papers with the city this week to run to retain his District 4 City Council seat in the Nov. 3 election. Mosby said he felt he was particularly qualified to help mold Lompoc’s future, given his track record.
“I think it’s very important to have someone who is experienced, as I am, moving forward,” he said, “especially in these times.”
“If you go into, say, open heart surgery, you’d like to have somebody that’s been there a while,” he added. “You don’t want to necessarily be the first experimentation for them.”
The filing deadline to get on the ballot for the Nov. 3 election was Friday, but it was not immediately known how many people had submitted papers. Mosby will face at least one challenger, however, in resident Jeremy Ball, who publicly announced his candidacy in late July.
Regardless of whoever else is on the ballot, Mosby said he was hopeful that voters would take his history into account.
The Lompoc native, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2018, said he has only missed one City Council meeting over the past 10 years, and that was as a civilian nine years ago. Before serving on the council, he spent two years on the Lompoc Utility Commission.
As a councilman, Mosby has been instrumental in some of the governing body’s major decisions.
He was a driving force behind stopping plans to build a new fire station five years ago that he and the council majority felt would have been too costly, and he has also been among the main architects of the past two city budgets.
While those recent budgets have faced criticism from some community members over their heavy cutbacks, Mosby said the city is in a much better financial position now, even with the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, because of them. He noted that Lompoc is anticipating a surplus of more than $1 million in 2021.
“I think that definitely justifies our decision-making by the super majority of council, a lot of it with my questions and direction,” he said. “As I’ve always said, the easiest money you make is the money you save. It was tough doing what we did, but we got it done.”
Mosby, who has offered his private fields for sports programs and other community events, said all of his decisions on the City Council have been motivated by a desire to best represent the Lompoc community. That includes all facets of the community, he said, noting that the events he has hosted — such as the Snow Day celebrations or community forums — have included people from all walks of life.
“When you look at the [City Council] agendas, you’ll see that a super majority of the items in ‘council requests’ are from me,” he said. “I think that’s important, to be there to represent the people. I think I’ve done a good job representing the whole town.”
He said he is sensitive to the social justice concerns that have been amplified by community members in recent months. In response to a call by some residents to reduce incidents of police abuse by redirecting money away from the Lompoc Police Department and into other social services, Mosby noted that he has spent years trying to improve oversight of law enforcement in the city.
Those efforts have primarily involved supporting the city’s Public Safety Commission and fighting against a push from some city officials, including a former police chief, over the past two years to have the commission dissolved.
Mosby said he felt the Public Safety Commission could play an important role, but that’s only if the community is aware of it. He suggested that some in the city don’t want the commission to exist, and cited that as a reason for its lack of advertisement in and around City Hall.
“There’s things we need to talk about, and [city leaders] have been trying for years to sweep away that oversight,” he said.
“That’s gonna change,” he said of the Public Safety Commission’s current lack of visibility. “After COVID, that will change. I don’t care what it takes; I’ll put big banners outside.”
Among major upcoming issues that Mosby said he is looking forward to diving into, if given another term on the City Council: The city’s Capital Improvement Plan, its impact fee study, the Summit View Homes development, and potential annexation of the so-called Bailey corridor.
Additionally, he said that he was looking to continue progress on making Surf Beach and its estuary more accessible to the public, and would be bringing back his volunteer efforts when it is deemed safe to do so by public health officials. He and a team of volunteers began working to remove gophers at Ryon Park in 2018, and Mosby said he felt their efforts played a significant role in the dog shows returning to the park last year after a one-year hiatus.
Citing rising incomes, increased business activity and an uptick in jobs in Lompoc over the past few years, Mosby said he was hopeful to keep pushing forward.
Ideally, he said, he’d continue to do so from the dais.
“Experience matters,” he said, surrounded by piles of papers — almost all of them city documents — at his private office. “I have the ability to ask the tough questions and not just be a rubber stamp for City Hall. I think it’s very important that we trust but verify, and that’s what I do.”