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Santa Maria Sun / Commentary

The following article was posted on September 23rd, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 30 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 30

Does mayoral candidate Victor Vega have the right stuff to lead Lompoc?

By RON FINK

If you’re thinking of voting for Victor Vega as mayor, there are some things you should consider carefully—the most important is his six-year record as a councilman.

The primary job of the mayor is keeping the council agenda on track during meetings; by that I mean that the mayor makes sure everyone is heard during public hearings. A firm grasp of Robert’s Rules of Order is a must.

On more than one occasion, Councilman Vega has demonstrated that he has little understanding of how public meetings are supposed to be conducted. In the council meeting on Sept. 1, he had to be reminded that he couldn’t second any motions that hadn’t been made and couldn’t make a motion prior to public comments being heard. These were serious procedural errors, but sadly they are not uncommon for Vega.

Another important aspect of running the meeting is to know the Ralph. M. Brown Act inside and out. Vega has had some ethical lapses in the past, specifically, when Jim Mosby was appointed to fill an open council seat. Vega participated in the discussion and the vote even though he was leasing property from Mosby, which gives the appearance of a conflict of interest. Some would ask, “What if he didn’t vote for his landlord, would he either be evicted or have his rent raised?” It was certainly not what most elected officials would deem as “best practices.”

And he vigorously supported and continuously asked that funds be provided for the “homebuyers assistance program,” which he would profit from as a real estate agent.

Over the last two budget cycles, the council majority, which included Councilman Vega, has sought reductions in the city staff. These reductions have created a serious backlog simply because there are insufficient staff members to conduct research, develop a response, hold meetings, and submit reports to the council, but Vega persists in adding new time-consuming council requests.

One of his requests was for a discussion to make “amendments to the handbook for commission, committee, and board members relating to future agenda item requests and cancellation of meetings.” He said he “wants to have a path so meetings aren’t canceled and commissioners can have their requests discussed.” In other words, after reducing the staff and knowing that COVID-19 restrictions preclude public attendance at meetings, he still wants more meetings.

The staff offered five recommendations for consideration; while the other four council members discussed the merits of each, Vega, who made the request, offered little to the discussion and simply agreed with the other members.

During the Sept. 1 and 15 meetings, he made a council request to discuss changes to the zoning ordinance for political signs. On Sept. 15, he had to be reminded by the mayor that political signs are not specifically mentioned in the ordinance and that the content of signs cannot be regulated; of course, he had to belittle her, saying, “You’re no legal expert.” 

The city attorney agreed with the mayor, saying that political signs by their nature cannot be regulated. This didn’t deter Vega as he continued to press his point that he indeed wanted to regulate political signs. I guess he thinks he can change U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

His council district has the highest occurrence of violent crime in the city. Some would argue that he hasn’t served his constituents well and that public safety in his district hasn’t improved since he was elected as a councilman. 

His website claims he wants to “focus on the management of crime and public safety.” But he was the only council member who sat silently watching the others discuss the need for police body cameras during the Sept. 1 council meeting; he spoke for less than a minute concerning the purchase of a new fire engine at the same council meeting. His focus on this subject seems a little dim. 

Considering the importance of these issues to his district and the fact that the public had raised the absence of body cameras as a concern, it was surprising that a candidate for mayor would have nothing to say. Instead, as he consistently does, he relied on the others to do the heavy lifting.

The last important trait in a mayoral candidate is an organized approach when discussing an issue. Vega seems disorganized, and when he is done speaking the listener is left wondering, “What did he say?” If he is going to be mayor, he needs some serious help with his organizational skills.

But while the other council members lead by example and represent Lompoc on regional committees, Vega choses to allow others to carry the load. When assigned to represent Lompoc on the Community Action Commission he was frequently absent, therefore Lompoc as a voting member had no representation. 

So he hasn’t delivered yet, has demonstrated no leadership skills, and appears to be a “me too; you do” and not the “go to; will do” councilman.

The mayor is perceived to be the representative of city government, which brings up the question, does Vega have the initiative necessary to represent the city or an understanding of meeting protocols, and is he willing to put in the 25 to 50 additional hours a week that’s required? 

He certainly hasn’t demonstrated these capabilities in the last six years. 

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









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