Saturday, October 24, 2020     Volume: 21, Issue: 34
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on October 14th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 33 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 33

Incumbent Jim Mosby runs against Jeremy Ball, Lompoc's only new City Council candidate this year outside of the mayoral race

By MALEA MARTIN

Jim Mosby, a businessman, property owner, and incumbent City Council member, is facing off against challenger Jeremy Ball, a business owner and host of Good Morning Lompoc, for Lompoc’s 4th District council seat this November. 


COUNCIL CONTENDERS
Incumbent Jim Mosby (left) and opponent Jeremy Ball (right) are running for Lompoc City Council’s District 4 seat. While District 1 is also up for election, incumbent Gilda Cordova is running unopposed, making District 4 Lompoc’s only City Council race, outside the mayoral seat.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JIM MOSBY AND JEREMY BALL

While the two contenders hold many things in common—they were both born and raised in Lompoc, grew up attending local schools, and are involved in the business community—the Sun spoke with each candidate to hear where they stand and diverge on the issues.

Mosby has served on the City Council for six years—first appointed and then elected—and previously served on Lompoc’s Utilities Commission and the Santa Barbara County Parks Commission. Over the past 10 years Mosby said he’s only missed one City Council meeting. 

“Experience matters,” Mosby said. “Especially in these times, with a pandemic, I think it’s very important to have people there who have been in the ditches and understand what it’s going to take to move us forward.”

Opponent Ball also holds experience in city government from his service on the Economic Development Committee in 2012. During the same year, he and his wife, Michelle Ball, started their local business, Bottle Branding. 

Ball said serving on the Economic Development Committee was where he really started to dig into some of the issues the city faces.

“I started to see that there was some disconnect between some of the folks that worked really hard and had really good efforts, but they weren’t always plugged in with each other,” Ball said. “I felt like there was an opportunity to bring some of those folks together.” 

Mosby believes that fiscal responsibility is key, and he said his track record illustrates his commitment to stabilizing the city budget.

“I’ve used some of my success in business to run some of the same ideas with the budgets,” Mosby said. “I’ve worked hard and diligently on these budgets.”

He said one of his proudest moments as a council member was supporting the repayment plan for the city’s unfunded liability with CalPERS.

“We refinanced the unfunded pension obligation, the $95 million debt, to a 15 year payoff schedule, saving the people $21 million,” he said. “Like I’ve always said, the easiest money you make is the money you save.”

Ball said there’s “no doubt about it” that the city needs to pay off the debt. But he feels that the payment plan that Mosby and the council majority approved is perhaps too aggressive during COVID-19. 

“We’re right in the middle of a once-in-100-year pandemic,” Ball said. “It’s difficult for me to see the reasoning to lock away some of those funds as we recover from COVID over the next year or two. We’ve severely limited our options. I wish we would have waited maybe just one year, at least for part of that, to see where everything landed.”

Ball believes that some of Lompoc’s financial woes come down to “our access to resources.”

“We have a higher percentage of low-income housing, which is not a problem, except that when it comes to property taxes we don’t necessarily get the same full amount that some of our other neighboring cities do,” Ball said. “We brought cannabis in to try to beef up our resources, so that’s something that we have but still needs to be tinkered with.”

As the city faces social and economic recovery from COVID-19, Mosby believes Lompoc needs to be “the tool to help connect the services that are available.”

“One of the items we did recently was with CDBG [Community Development Block Grant] funding,” Mosby said. “We have a program out there for utility assistance. … We definitely need to be one of the corridors of connection between all the resources and continue doing what we’re doing.”

Ball, who serves as the chair of the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce board of directors, also emphasized the importance of collaboration as the city recovers.

“Lompoc can’t answer all of these questions by itself,” he said. “It’s super important to have a leader that can connect with not only our county and our state, but our federal leaders too … to make sure we’re at every single table.”

Both candidates named public safety as a topic the city needs to address.

Mosby said that while he does not support cutting public safety funding, he does support oversight and transparency.

“I did present a reference manual on grant funding for body cameras, and the police department fully agrees and wants a body camera system,” he said. 

Mosby said he advocated for moving the Public Safety Commission’s meetings to City Hall to increase public access. 

“We had 112 people at a Public Safety Commission meeting after one of the travesties that happened last year,” he said. “I am very supportive of more transparency with the police department.”

Lompoc experienced a record of seven homicides in 2019, and a police official told the Sun in August that gang violence in the city had increased.

Ball said that “we’re already dealing with the consequences and ramifications of having stripped a lot of the basic funding, and our crimes are going up.”

“We’ve got to beef our [public safety] up, but not just ad nauseam,” he continued. “I’d love for the police department to have someone that is actually a mental health expert. We put so many of these issues onto the backs of our police departments, and that’s not fair.”

Ball added that “we absolutely need to step up and review all of our policies and our procedures and make sure that we’re in line with a pragmatic, progressive approach to policing.” 

Going into the election next month, Mosby believes that his experience and connections with his constituents make him the right person for the job.

“I’ve put myself out there to be as available to the public as they want me to be,” he said.

Ball hopes that his ties to the community will give him a shot at the incumbent’s seat.

“The reason I’m in Lompoc is because it’s my favorite place,” he said. “It just has amazing, heartfelt, authentic people.” 

Staff Writer Malea Martin can be reached at mmartin@santamariasun.com.









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