Jenelle Osborne cites improvements in city’s parks and financial health
Editor’s note: This is part of a series about local candidates in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
Jenelle Osborne is running for her third term as Lompoc mayor against James Mosby.
Just before becoming mayor, Mayor Osborne served as a Lompoc City Council member from 2016 to 2018.
“After I was elected (mayor), the dynamics changed. We had really been struggling, and the prior majority had been making cuts and eliminating positions,” Mayor Jenelle Osborne told the News-Press.
She noted the city’s 1% sales tax increase measure passed in March 2020. The current council majority has made decisions to use the first $6 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds to make upgrades such as police radios and purchase a new fire truck.
Beattie Park is now the first all-inclusive play-ground in the county, Mayor Osborne said.
The park includes a general socializing area and the playground is much larger than in the past. Mayor Osborne said the playground facilities are now ADA-compliant.
“The swing structure and slides are designed for those with mobility access issues.” Mayor Osborne said. “Swings allow families to get on together, and some slides are large enough to allow adults to go down with kids. There is also an outdoor gym including stations with QR codes which provide workouts. The park also includes a social area with a gazebo which can be rented for parties. There is also a windwall with outdoor tables to play games such as table top tennis or ping pong.
“There are also LED lights on a timer. The lights are also motion-sensitive so they will turn on if someone walks through the park when the lights are off. This will allow the cameras to pick up what is happening.” said Mayor Osborne.
“Congressman (Salud) Carbajal approved $1.3 million for congressional funds in the next budget to help with Pioneer Park,” she noted. “Pioneer Park is one of our oldest parks and includes the Babe Ruth baseball field. This park is everyone’s backyard. The playground is limping along and past its prime.
“We have over 200 acres of parks, and lots of our parks are over 100 years old,” she said. “Over 30 percent of the community is low income so it is important to get parks in conditions that aren’t dangerous. There is a lot going on in parks and properties we own. We have been improving parks due to work with staff and getting the parks and rec department the assistance that is needed.”
Mayor Osborne also addressed improvements made in financial health.
“We passed the first balanced budget in 2021,” Mayor Osborne said. “We were able to return $4 million to the general fund reserve. We passed the first cannabis tax measure in 2018 and the cannabis tax adjustment measure in 2021.
“The benefit of the pandemic was that we had a lot of individuals working from home and thus shopping locally,” she said. “We came out of the pandemic healthier than we expected. We have begun to adjust revenues and invest in the community and ourselves. We have begun to see the results of that, and it’s really important to keep on that path.”
Mayor Osborne also spoke to what has been done to address the homeless population.
“We unfortunately have an ongoing homeless issue,” she said. “Unfortunately for us, we have a very large river bed from Robinson bridge to North H Street bridge. We have been struggling to support the homeless population. Usually about 1 in 10 has a connection to Lompoc.
“It is an ongoing issue because we didn’t have a fully staffed police department,” Mayor Osborne said.
She noted that since last September, the city was able to relaunch the police department’s special investigative units.
“The community liaison officer returned to full time and connected with the homeless population and assessed the river bed for another eviction process,” she said. “We have completed the eviction process and helped about 43 people move into housing and implemented fencing around the river bed. The first goal is to help those that need and want the help.”
“I’m happy things are going better,” Mayor Osborne said. “I’m stressed by all the things that need to be done. I think it’s important that we keep the positive progress going.
“Instead of talking about Lompoc’s potential we should be continuing to realize it,” she said.
If re-elected, Mayor Osborne plans to continue to focus on investing in public safety.
“We have a lot to do there. We still have openings. Technically we are about 20 officers short,” she said. “I would like to add a few officers each budget cycle for the next few years. …
“We also want to add body cameras, which involve additional servers and cloud service, as well as personnel. As we make these investments we have to make sure we can maintain them with ongoing revenue,” Mayor Osborne said.
She emphasized her desire to continue improving public parks. She also wants to add another $4 million in the general reserve.
“It was very stressful to go through a pandemic with a negative fund,” said Mayor Osborne.
She said she has received positive feedback in terms of people wanting to live in Lompoc and invest in the community.
“We make so many decisions that affect everyone because we are a full-service city,” said Mayor Osborne.
“I bring a healthy respectful leadership style that brings everyone to the table and tries to keep us out of hot water. Many may not see the results yet, but it’s hard to change the tide of 10 years in a short time. I ask for two more years. My leadership style is exactly what this community deserves and needs right now.”