Saturday, September 19, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 29

Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on July 29th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 22 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 21, Issue 22

There is a pivotal election looming in Lompoc; do we stick with old-school thought processes?


Councilwoman Gilda Cordova was appointed two years ago by a City Council majority to fill an unexpired term when Jenelle Osborne was elected mayor. We have had more than one appointee in years past; some take it seriously, some have had agendas, and some have just kept the seat warm until the next election. Cordova has tried to bring a fresh, honest perspective and the voice of the entire community to the dais—not just a select few—while serving.

Councilwoman Cordova is a successful businesswoman who has dedicated herself to serving the community. She has considerable experience in setting a vision and establishing and successfully managing complex, multimillion-dollar projects and realizing the vision she set.

This skill set is especially important, perhaps the most important experience base for a council member to have. 

Shortly after she was appointed, the council began considering the current budget; she asked pertinent questions and contributed to the process even though she had limited experience in city government. As the budget cycle progressed, the unforeseen impacts of COVID-19 eroded the revenue projections used to form the budget.

While the COVID-19 virus outbreak can be blamed for a downturn in business activity, many people familiar with the economics of our city say that this current downturn began long before this illness descended on our country.

I spoke with Cordova recently, and she said that the way to improve conditions “hinges on the way we fund local government services. We need to improve public safety, social services, and strengthen public infrastructure. With an improved partnership with industry, the city can grow and prosper.” 

She was an early proponent of placing a temporary sales tax initiative on the ballot to help bolster the general fund; she also urged caution after the tax passed when the council majority wanted to obligate a large portion of the new funds to paying down the CalPERS debt. Her concerns were that the revenue losses caused by the disease would linger for several months as businesses were not allowed to function at full capacity. Cordova isn’t a “rubber stamper,” meaning that she examines all proposals carefully before making a decision.

She has observed that often the issue or policy being discussed loses momentum when the hot air of debate turns cold in the room, meaning that some council members think the job is done when they cast their vote. This needs to change, and she told me that she believes a “clear vision is needed for a bright future for Lompoc that must carry weight and have measurable goals.”

The district in which she is running has the largest number of registered voters by a fairly wide margin; when the state Assembly implemented the Voter Rights Act it used population, not registered voters, as the basis for creating the district voting method. Thus, while one district has only 3,499 registered voters, her district has 5,394. She thinks that it gives her more leverage and that with more people involved in her district they can provide the energy to make good things happen.

The people of Lompoc need to decide how we dig ourselves out of the hole that poor decision-making has created in the last several decades. Safer and healthier neighborhoods will attract new businesses as nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base accommodates more commercial space launch sites.

This is a pivotal election for Lompoc; do we stick with the old-school ideas of the current council majority, or do we try something different. Electing energetic council members who are willing to put their energy behind an agreed-to solution and not just blow hot air is one way to change course.

When I spoke with Cordova, she said that she was “always ready, willing, and able to embrace better ideas” when discussing policy matters. This is exactly how good public policy is created; bring your thoughts to the table, listen carefully to your constituents and to the other four people involved in the decision with an open mind before making a motion or casting your vote.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a concept shared by other councilmen.

Councilwoman Cordova has provided us with a look into how she would perform for the next four years; in her case, the way she handles the business of the city is what one would expect from an elected leader. 

Ron Fink writes to the Sun from Lompoc. Send your thoughts, comments, and opinionated letters to 

Weekly Poll
Should the county Public Health Department help elementary schools apply for the state’s waiver program?

Yes, that’s what the department is there for.
Schools shouldn’t open at all right now, nevermind with the county’s help.
If the state thinks schools are ready, what’s the problem?
Schools should have to fend for themselves; it shows whether they’re ready to handle reopening.

| Poll Results

My 805 Tix - Tickets to upcoming events