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Former CHP commander seeks third term
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Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn pauses at the front counter at city hall during his re-election effort to the city council for a third term. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin
RIPON - Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn is securing a third term on the city council at the Nov. 2 election among four contenders for two seats.

 “This (the city council) is probably the best fit for me.” Winn said when asked if he were ever going to consider a second run for a seat in the state Assembly. “I get instant feedback on my performance and secondly I can make a difference instantaneously by council decisions and it affects me personally as a resident.”

Winn said those are the things he finds favorable about local government.  

“Let’s face it local government is the most responsive of the three levels whether it be local, state or federal.  Because, once you get beyond the local level there is no accountability.  People don’t go and watch the Assembly or the Senate in session in Sacramento and they certainly don’t go back to Washington, D.C., and watch our representatives,” the mayor said.

He said he enjoys that “accountability” and really enjoys listening to his neighbors and acts upon their concerns and somehow makes a difference in Ripon.  

Winn sees the city budget as a major challenge in the next four years with the city in serious financial straits due to the state taking monies from cities and counties.  

“I think the No. 1 challenge we have is obviously to increase our revenues to the point where we can rehire some of the employees that we laid off and by then restore the level of services I think we need in Ripon,” Winn explained.   

Among other projects, he hopes to see the development of the Town Plaza on the downtown northwest corner of Stockton Avenue and Second Street. It is now nothing more than a dirt lot and was the previous site of a milk drive thru with several gasoline pumps.

“The reason that I proposed developing the Town Plaza without the use of city funds – aside from some infrastructure requirements – is the above ground facility needs  that will give residents  of the community the opportunity to invest  –  whether it be their money or their time or their energies – to do something they can point to with pride in the future,” he said.

Looking at a positive side of the economy and the recession, he is impressed that it has given people in Ripon the motivation to come together and to do projects like taking the weeds out off the plaza property that recently drew some 20 volunteers.

“I was with a group of men who cleaned up an abandoned house that had been foreclosed on for over a year, and it was blight to the neighborhood,” Winn recalled.   “Blight is not just the ugliness of the property – it’s a fire hazard – it’s a health hazard – and it becomes a crime hazard, because of drugs and a variety of other criminal activity,” insisted.

“So I’ve seen, with our parks and with our other cleanups, the pride that has come out of the community as a positive thing.  I hope when we restore services, we will still have the opportunity to maintain that community pride and personal investment.

The former highway patrol commander for Stanislaus County said when he ran for the Assembly several years ago, he got a chance to see the inner bowels of politics and became totally disillusioned by the process.  

“I’m not afraid to run again and I’m not afraid to take on challenges, but it’s ugly,” Winn said.  “Running for the assembly was probably the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.”  

He told of a friend of some 20 plus years who achieved a state office, and is now looking to serve only one term.  He’s quitting “because he has the same values that I have.”  

Winn said that whenever his friend brings anything to the table, he is destroyed, not only by the Democrats but also by the Republicans.

“Why be in office if you can’t be true to your values,  to do what people elected you for, when you are ineffective?” he queried, “And I think I would be the same way.”

Winn said he doesn’t feel he could go far enough – especially with Democrats – to be effective.  “On one hand I could represent the district, but the other side of it,  I’m not sure I would be happy,” he concluded.