The city of Encinitas has a new City Council member: Joe Mosca, a city Parks and Recreation commissioner and former Council member and Mayor of Sierra Madre, a small town in Los Angeles County with a population of just over 10,000.
Mosca was appointed to fill the remaining two years in Mayor Catherine Blakespear’s Council term, to which she was elected in November 2014.
He was chosen over 15 other applicants, 12 of whom spoke at the Jan. 11 meeting in which Mosca was chosen by a 3-1 vote, with Councilmember Mark Muir voting no.
Among those passed over were two very familiar names: Planning Commissioner Tony Brandenburg, who finished fifth in the November 2016 race for three open Encinitas City Council seats, and Bruce Ehlers, a former planning commissioner and leader in the successful fight against Measure T, for the city to adopt a housing element.
A resident of Olivenhain, Mosca, 44, moved here several years ago and in September 2015 joined San Diego Gas & Electric Co. as manager, major projects. At the council meeting he said he left Sierra Madra in 2011 because his husband, a doctor, had accepted a year-long, “once in a lifetime” assignment in London.
One news report described Mosca as a “politically ambitious, former rising star in the LA County Democratic party.” A photo on his Facebook page shows him with Hillary Clinton.
He told the Council that he considers climate change “is the moral crisis of our time” and it is “imperative on cities like this to move the ball forward, to decrease our carbon footprint….”
In his application, Mosca wrote, “I am committed to preserving our beautiful coastal community of Encinitas and our unique way of life. With my involvement in our city commissions and local charities and also with two kids in our public schools, I am extremely passionate about Encinitas and committed to enhancing our quality of life. This is an extraordinary opportunity and I am ready to give back to Encinitas in this capacity and be a voice for our communities.
“With my knowledge of local, county, and state government, I am not a one-issue candidate, nor would I be a one issue city council member. If I am fortunate enough to serve, I have the ability to hit the ground running and focus on those issues which are most pressing to our communities of Encinitas.
“My public service, however, on the city council would be guided by my desire to have a meaningful impact in the following areas:
“To preserve and acquire open space, trails, and parklands. And, of course, maintain all of our incredible recreational facilities. As a big believer in the goals of our parks and recreation department, I would be a champion of our community programs and activities. This is an important value of mine;
“To enhance the quality of life for everyone in our community. A particular focus will be on maintaining a balanced budget, ensuring healthy general fund reserves, addressing future financial risks, leading on water and environmental sustainability issues, and bringing the community together around the complex land-use challenges we face; and
“To ensure a proper level of public safety for OllfS.Qr:nmunity. Generally speaking, public safety is one of the largest line items in our municipal budget. And, it deserves a high level of attention. I’d like to work with our fire and police to make sure our community’s current and future needs and goals are being met.”
The New Encinitas Network was critical of the appointment. In an email, Mike Andreen, owner of the New Encinitas Network, wrote, “Just after listening to the new Encinitas City Council question over a dozen potential appointees for the ‘open’ council seat left on the five-person council and seeing very little deliberation by the new council before they voted to appoint a Mr. Joe Mosca into the seat Catherine Blakespear left behind as she ascended up into the directly elected Encinitas mayor’s chair, reminding many of us that the mayor and her court are renown in North County for appearing to violate the Ralph M. Brown ‘Open Meetings’ Act … the news wave was interrupted by the news that another very poor decision-maker, Dean Spanos, had decided to move the San Diego Chargers up into Carson….” He faulted the Council for “passing on 16 longtime residents who threw their hats in the ring for appointment” and for choosing “a veritable unknown/newcomer.”
Andreen then published a link to a Dec. 31, 2016 story in the Sierra Madre Tattler about Mosca’s quest for an Encinitas Council seat: “So here we go again. Joe Mosca, the fellow who showed up in Sierra Madre one fine day not so long ago, and then quickly began to campaign for a seat on Sierra Madre’s City Council despite having only recently arrived in town, is trying to do that deja vu thing all over again. Joe is now attempting to get appointed to an empty City Council seat in the City of Encinitas. Which, as you may or may not know, is a quaint little seaside town just north of San Diego often celebrated for its arts and vintage home architecture. Not coincidentally, Encinitas is currently under serious assault from various predatory development forces that would just love to cash the place in for some big time profits. Does any of that sound familiar to you, Sierra Madre readers?”
Muir said he favored Brandenburg and told the audience had had received a video showing Mosca in a verbal tussle with fellow Sierra Madre Council members. He also said he had heard there was a recall campaign against Mosca, a campaign Mosca said was talked about but never materialized