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Winn takes lead in race for two Ripon seats
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Incumbent Ripon council candidate Dean Uecker is seen with his supporters – family members and friends – gathered at the Pizza Plus. Bryce Perkins, candidate for the Ripon Consolidated Fire District Board is seen to the right of Uecker. - photo by GLENN KAHL
RIPON - Ripon’s Mayor Chuck Winn led the regular city council meeting Tuesday night while voters were continuing to cast their votes in the lobby of the council chambers up until 8 p.m. as he told colleagues he couldn’t plan for tomorrow as he might not be reelected.

The former California Highway Patrol Commander for Stanislaus County led the four-way race as the front runner for the two open seats on the council.  

Carolyn Jensen continued to run in second place, edging incumbent councilman Dean Uecker who was running third at the 1 a.m. Wednesday press time.  Former mayor and vice mayor Dan Prince,  came in the run for council.

Jensen hosted a private group of friends and supporters in her Ripon home while anxiously watching for the vote tally on television – a vote that was held up by a crash in the Internet system controlled by the Secretary of State’s office.

Uecker meanwhile spent his evening with some 30 supporters enjoying pizza together at the Pizza Plus Restaurant in the downtown section of Ripon – watching for the latest results on television.

Winn and Prince both stayed in their homes for the remainder of the evening.  The mayor said he had a number of phone calls from close friends during the evening wishing him well.

Winn and his wife Karon spent the evening exchanging small talk about the future of the city and about his new full-time “day job” that begins today in Stockton.  The retired highway patrolman has been named the program coordinator for the new Institute of Technology that is located on Hammer Lane.

He explained that it is criminology and emergency response management program that will give graduates an associated degree that will include a guard card and be EMT certified as well as being certified as a correctional officer.

Winn said he has been enjoying the prospect of putting a program together from the beginning and see it become a reality.

As for post campaign activities, he said he will be getting together with his 22 workers who helped him win reelection.  “They did a great job.  I couldn’t do it without those who walked the neighborhoods and planted the signs – some of the best people around,” he said.

He noted that he had a plan for his campaign from the start and stayed with it, not looking at the other campaigns.

Winn looks at the next four years as an opportunity for the residents to invest in the community and see even more of a partnership develop with all the elements of the city come together for positive results.

Carolyn Jensen was looking ahead to Tuesday night hoping to win the seat, saying she wanted to get the Police Activities League youth building open again and up to speed using volunteers.

She hopes to get high school and college students interested in the program as volunteers to guide the youth of the community in positive activities.  Jensen believes she can attract the college set that needs community service opportunities for their class requirements.  What better place to do that community work but in Ripon, she asked.

Jensen said her number one supporter in the council campaign was her husband Gary.  “I’ve seen a side of him that I didn’t know existed,” she quipped.  “He was walking the Second Street overpass over Highway 99 with my signs greeting everyone and waving.”

Uecker said he was hoping to continue the work he started on the council during the last four years, adding that it takes two years to really begin to feel comfortable and to know the way around city hall.  He has voiced his desire to work hard at bringing new business into the community that will further support Ripon’s needs.

Uecker, too, voiced his appreciation for those who, he said, worked so hard to support his campaign in the community.

While the votes were slow to come in after midnight, the count had Winn at 1,537 and Jensen had logged 1,399.  Uecker had a total of 1,334 and Prince 944.