Lompoc City Councilwoman Jenelle Osborne appears set to become the city's next mayor.
Osborne held a slight lead over opponent Jim Mosby in the final round of voting results that were released by Santa Barbara County election officials shortly after 11:50 p.m. Tuesday night. Osborne's 2,959 votes out-paced Mosby's 2,811. She garnered 51 percent of the total to Mosby's 48, according to the figures released by Santa Barbara County election officials.
If the official results hold true to Tuesday's outcome, Osborne will succeed Bob Lingl as mayor. Lingl, who was elected to consecutive two-year terms in 2014 and 2016, decided not to run again this year.
Osborne, who held an Election Night gathering at a downtown lounge, admitted Tuesday that she was battling nerves as the returns began to come in, but she said "it’s an exciting nervous.”
“I’m looking forward to seeing the results and seeing what the community thinks and wants out of their council,” she said.
Mosby, who gathered with friends and supporters at a midtown restaurant, expressed confidence as the polls closed.
“It’s gonna be fun,” he said. “If I pull this off and become mayor, we’ve got a lot of things we’re gonna do.”
Mosby, who was appointed to a City Council seat in 2014 and then elected to retain the seat in 2016, and Osborne, who was the top vote-getter in the 2016 City Council race, have often been at odds during their time together on the City Council, perhaps most notably over the direction of the city’s budget.
Osborne is now on track to become Lompoc's first female mayor in 20 years. The last woman to hold the office was Joyce Howerton, who served from 1992 to 1998.
While Osborne said Tuesday that she didn’t run necessarily because she’s a woman, she acknowledged that the significance of her campaign wasn’t lost on her.
“I ran because I really believe in this community and I really want to see us move forward and I’d like to bring my vision forward to the community,” she said. “The fact that I’m a female and it’s 2018 and there’s a huge rise in women running for office — I’m thrilled to be a part of that and I think absolutely more women should get involved, not only in the state and national level, but definitely at the local level."
She encouraged anyone interested in running for local office to “come talk to me.”
“I fully support an interest in running," she said. "Male, female — I think it’s important to get involved in your community.”
While Osborne is set to transition into a role as the city's top elected official, Mosby would remain on the council to serve out the remaining two years on his term.
Both candidates said Tuesday night that they were looking forward to continuing their service to the city regardless of the election results.
“It’s been a lot of fun," Mosby said of the campaign. "I’ve met a lot of great people … and a lot of people who’ve posed a number of very important questions.
"Some of the things I learned during the campaign, I’m going to continue to do while on council, or if I am mayor," he added.
It will be up to the new mayor and the three members of the City Council to determine how to fill the council seat that is vacated by the new mayor. It is expected that a discussion on how to fill that seat will take place shortly after the council resumes its normal schedule with its next regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20.