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Challenge: Luring more visitors to Ripon
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Getting more people to visit Ripon to spend money is one way of strengthening the community’s economy and boosting the local tax base.
The six candidates seeking three seats in the Nov. 8 Ripon City Council election —  Mayor Jake Parks and fellow incumbents Leo Zuber and Mark Winchell, along with challengers Daniel de Graaf, Mario Gonzales and John Mangelos — were asked, “What can Ripon do to make it a destination place to attract visitors?”
Here’s how they responded:
uDaniel de Graaf: “Growth that includes attracting businesses to Ripon is a good thing.  Out of control growth and continuing to build houses without bringing in businesses will ultimately be a burden on our police department, our fire department, our utilities and our schools.”
uJake Parks: “Mistlin Sports Park is one of the keys to the city’s future success and making Ripon a destination for people to visit. The baseball and soccer fields do a great job of bringing in tournaments and using the park on the weekends. The City can do a better job of utilizing the parking during weekdays (to attract people to Ripon) by working with the Chamber to have events at the underutilized amphitheater. In having all the attributes of Mistlin Park to promote Ripon, we can then get more and more people to visit our historic downtown. Another important part of attracting people to Ripon business will be if we can figure out a way to put an ACE Station downtown. An ACE Station would provide a continual stream of individuals from outside of our community into downtown. Over the years the City has lead the way in new home standards, street designs, and overall laying out of the community.  This has helped contribute to Ripon being a destination for home buyers and builders alike.  Our challenge over the upcoming years is going to be to continue with this model and not lower our standards for the sake of merely growing.”
John Mangelos: “We need to attract businesses that offer unique experiences, whether it will be in art, food, or culture. Our city needs to be more welcoming on an administrative level. Embracing these businesses will mean offering a helping hand.”
uLeo Zuber: “It will be up to private sector interests to determine if Ripon will be a destination and if it is (then) what type of destination will it be. The responsibility of city government is to do all it can to ensure that private sector efforts in this direction are supported. Establishing a destination is a commercial venture. Ripon needs to let commercial investors and developers know that there is an attitude of support present in the community. The residents need to know that the city is ready to support commercial efforts that will have a positive impact on the city and its residents. Those residents also need to know that support for commercial development will not come at the expense of city standards or have a negative impact on the culture of the community. If someone has an interest in making Ripon a destination place, whether for a meal of shopping or something even larger, they need to know that city government is ready to help.”
uMario Gonzales: “I think the farmers market along with event such as Taste of Ripon and the Almond Blossom Festival, to name a few, will continue to bring in people from all over.”
uMark Winchell: “Many visitors come to Mistlin Sports Park and travelers often pass by (Ripon) on their way to Yosemite and other destination. Our historic downtown the surrounding areas would be a nice stopping point to stop, eat and frequent our businesses. There are many assorted eateries, cafes, and restaurants in town I would like to see more visitors frequent those businesses. By adding outside and partitioned seating areas, we can create a festive and inviting atmosphere for visitors to relax and enjoy meals. Downtown events sponsored by community organizations can be successful as well (examples, Farm to Fork dinners, farmers market, car shows, etc.). The Chamber of Commerce should increase the promotion of Mistlin Sports Park – this will increase income for our local businesses. Most of our residents don’t know we have an amphitheater located at Mistlin – it should be promoted for small concerts, plays, and other community events.”