Joe Mosca is now a member of the Encinitas City Council after the council voted 3-1 to have Mosca fill the vacant seat at its Jan. 11 meeting.The seat became vacant Dec. 13 when Catherine Blakespear was sworn in as mayor.
Mosca, who has lived in Olivenhain for two-and-a-half years and has sat on the Encinitas Parks and Recreation Commission since 2015, was elected after a 3-1 vote, with Council Member Mark Muir voting against his appointment.
Mosca’s term became effective Jan. 12 and ends in November 2018.
Mosca, manager of major projects at San Diego Gas & Electric, previously served on the Sierra Madre City Council from 2006 to 2011, including one year as mayor.
The Encinitas City Council made its decision after hearing presentations from 12 applicants for the council spot — originally 16 people applied, but three recently withdrew their names and one was absent.
Several residents recommended Mosca to the council. Fellow parks commissioner Marge Kohl praised Mosca’s work Wednesday night and told the City Council that he has given her new ideas for city trail routes. Bob Nichols, founder of the nonprofit Surfing Madonna Oceans Project, told the council that Mosca would be an outstanding addition to the council, saying he was very respectful toward others and a visionary who deeply cares about his community.
Mosca, a married father of two boys, said he was excited to be appointed.
“There was an impressive group of candidates who applied, and I’m honored to be the council’s choice,” he said. “I think this choice really showed the council really wanted an experienced person who can hit the ground running and really focus on some of the challenges we have before our city. ... Hopefully we’ll continue to bring people together and think of the common goals and the solutions moving forward.”
He said he is committed to preserving and acquiring open space, trails and park lands; enhancing the quality of life for everyone in the community; and ensuring a proper level of public safety for the community.
Mosca was the topic of conversation amongst council members at the meeting and fielded questions regarding possible conflicts, including whether or not his employment with SDG&E could influence his decisions and an alleged attempt to have him recalled in Sierra Madre.
Councilman Tony Kranz, who later in the evening said he would like one more week to review the materials presented by the 16 applicants before selecting a person for the post, asked whether Mosca felt he would have a conflict with his employer if he was appointed to the council post. Encinitas currently is exploring whether to set up a community choice energy program, an alternative to using SDG&E.
Mosca ensured the council his decisions would be his own and he would recuse himself if there were any conflicts of interest.
“If selected, I would always be representing our community, not my employer,” he said.
According to news reports from outlets that cover Sierra Madre, Mosca was almost recalled and criticized for his votes regarding development.
Mosca voted against Measure V, which allows citizens the right to vote on the city’s Downtown Plan, according to Mountain Views News. Although the measure passed, more than 1,600 people signed a petition to have Mosca recalled, citing disappointment with his decision, the newspaper reported.
The petition was ultimately unsuccessful when it fell short by about 150 signatures, according to Mountain Views News.
The Sierra Madre Weekly also reported that residents were unhappy with increased water rates that helped finance bonds used to pay for the water system upgrades.
“Mosca bore the brunt of citizens’ complaints,” the newspaper reported.
Addressing the concerns, Mosca referred to the petition as an effort by “about 20 people” that “never got it off the ground.”
Mosca eventually stepped down from the Sierra Madre City Council in November 2011 to go with his family to London so his husband, an HIV researcher and physician, could pursue a dream job.
Blakespear said she motioned to appoint Mosca because of his “relevant experience.”
“He had a number of people speak about how he works collaboratively and is a smart decision maker who has the type of temperament that is positive and solution-oriented,” she said. “The fact that he won two elections shows me he understands the complex process of both running and serving.”
Muir, who recommended selecting applicant Tony Brandenburg, a 55-year resident, for the council spot, said his vote was not necessarily against Mosca, but he preferred a candidate who had been in the city longer.
“I just think the fact that you’ve lived here for two years may not give you the opportunity to know this community like other people do,” Muir said. “But I’ll work with him just like I work with anybody else.”
— San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Barbara Henry contributed to this report.