What type of business would be a nice fit for Ripon?
Is the city OK with the goods and services that are currently available?
Those were the final questions recently asked the six candidates vying for the three available spots on the Ripon City Council in the Nov 8 election.
Daniel deGraaf, Mario Gonzales and John Mangelos are challengers for the seats currently occupied by Mayor Jake Parks, Mark Winchell and Leo Zuber.
What follows is their backgrounds and how they responded to the questions:
Bio: A former police, Mario Gonzales attended Delta College and earned his degree in Emergency Management Services from California State University, Long Beach.
He was born and raised in Manteca and has lived in Ripon for the last 11 years.
Gonzales spent 16 years with the Modesto Police Department, retiring in 2013 on disability issues.
Answer: “I think right now the city is doing what it needs to attract. I would have to see what else could be done for goods and services to exceed their levels.”
Bio: Daniel deGraaf, who was born and raised as a fourth generation family farmer, learned the value of hard work at an early age. He also credits his upbringing for instilling the value of hard work at an early age – deGraaf is an engineer at a local firm that specializes in agricultural and civil projects.
He attended Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo with a degree is in Bio Resource and Agriculture Engineering.
When it comes to working with private and municipal clients in improving the infrastructure, deGraaf said he’s able to make “pragmatic decisions,” which he believes will suit him well if elected in November.
Answer: “Ripon should look to attract all sorts of goods and services. To continue to provide the level of service to our residents and our community Ripon needs to attract businesses to generate the necessary revenue. I plan to attract shops and restaurants, technology companies, manufacturing companies, construction companies, and other businesses that provide good paying jobs to young professionals who live here in Ripon.”
Bio: John Mangelos has done plenty over the years in preserving Ripon’s history, with he and several volunteers including Clarence Smit opening the Ripon Historical Museum at Stouffer Park in 1989.
He also had a helping hand in converting the First Christian Reformed Church built in 1917 into a museum for local veterans, and was a catalyst in making possible in the Veterans Wall along with the Police Officers Association memorial.
Mangelos was one of the organizers behind farmers market and Main Street Days. He’s a longtime member of Ripon Rotary and is the former owner of the Barnwood Restaurant.
Answer: “We need to attract family style restaurants, traditional service stores such as shoe repair shops and seamstress/tailor. Unique eating experience’s gourmet food shops, local wine tasting, artisan cheese stores, microbreweries etc. We need to seek out businesses that carry on the traditions of Ripon.”
Bio: Leo Zuber is the retired superintendent of the Ripon Unified School District and is active in the Ripon Lions Club along with several other endeavors in town.
Since 1985, he’s called Ripon home. Zuber was born and raised in Turlock. Zuber attended the University of California, Davis, where he earned a degree in U.S. History, receiving his Administrative Services credentials from California State University, Sacramento.
He taught five years, starting at Groveland and then moving to Senior Elementary School in Tracy, where he was vice principal. In 1979, Zuber became principal at Ripon Elementary School followed by Weston Elementary School. He was Director of District Services prior to becoming became the RUSD superintendent, from 1993 through 2008.
Answer: “Most private sector enterprises have a set of minimum requirements or standards that must be in place before there is a commitment to come to a community. These could be related to population, infrastructure, economic base or any of several other factors. A community may want a particular business to establish a presence, but if the business’s minimum standards are not met, the business will more than likely not “come to town.” At this point in its development, Ripon has a chance to attract regional retail, service-oriented and manufacturing businesses. The community can attract service businesses such as restaurants and other service providers, as long as the population size will support the business. Ripon needs to make sure commercial developers know the community is here and that it is looking to support new and expanding businesses. That mutual interest will translate to conversations and proposals that can and will result in quality commercial growth.”
Bio: Mark Winchell served six years on the Ripon Planning Commission before being appointed to the Council in January 2015.
He filled the seat that was once occupied by Elden ‘Red’ Nutt, who was re-elected in November 2014 but died suddenly a few weeks later. Winchell has lived in Ripon for 31 years.
He’s a successful self-employed owner in the wholesale business and grew up traveling the world due to his father being a chief master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force – Winchell ended up graduating high school from Clark Air Base in the Philippines and later attended Merced Community College and CSU, Stanislaus.
Answer: “Ripon is looking at providing an ACE (train) transit station so our residents can access their commuting destinations without the need to drive and deal with the stressful traffic. I support this service because it provides a more effective way to move large numbers of people while also reducing omissions and traffic congestion. I support a curbside recycling plan which would provide a streamlined recycling service. Ripon is working with a non-profit to iron out the final planning stages of a dog park on Doak Avenue. This is one of the projects our former Mayor ‘Red’ Nutt was working on before his unfortunate passing. I strongly support the dog park and would like to see it brought to a finish. It will quickly become a valued addition to our community.”
Bio: As the former owner of ‘Jake’s: Coffee, Tea & Sandwiches’ in Ripon, Jake Parks learned what it took to succeed in business at an early age. His folks are Phil and Donna Parks, longtime owners of Park’s Chevron in Ripon.
From them, he also learned about being community minded – Donna Parks is a former school board member at Ripon Unified.
He’s a 2001 graduate of Ripon Christian High and previously served on the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, and has a degree in Business Marketing from Chico State, and a master’s degree in International Affairs from the University of Central Florida.
Answer: “In talking with developers and those looking to expand their business, I have come to realize not every business is going to be a fit for Ripon (i.e. Target or Walmart). The city needs to focus its efforts on attracting local/regional businesses, which are not necessarily in every community (Tractor Supply, Regional Pregnancy Centers, breweries, etc). These will be businesses that understand, and can relate to the culture of Ripon; becoming a part of the community. Once these businesses have been identified it will be imperative for the City to create an atmosphere of business success. The city has already begun to change its perception in the business community, by reforming in development fees. We are now more competitive with surrounding communities, but have not sacrificed our ability to operate city services. If re-elected to the City Council, I will make sure we stay on this path; being open and flexible to new business needs, while maintaining a city services.”