Mark Winchell was elated Tuesday to hear of his selection to the Ripon City Council.
He was one of seven vying for the seat once held by Elden “Red” Nutt, who died suddenly on Nov. 21.
“I feel so fortunate to be picked to fill Red’s old post,” said Winchell. “But I do so with a heavy heart.”
His selection was anything but easy, according to Mayor Leo Zuber. Winchell was able to pick up the necessary three votes during the first go-around via ballots as cast by each of the elected leaders.
City Clerk Lisa Roos made the announcement.
Zuber echoed what candidate John Reynolds referred to as “an all-star team” during the previous day interviewing process.
Councilman Dean Uecker agreed, saying: “This was not an easy decision – all seven were qualified.”
Winchell, Reynolds, John Mangelos, Garry Krebbs, Don Moyer, Manuel Lopez, and Gary Barton each brought their own strengths to the table, said Vice Mayor Jake Parks.
Krebbs and Moyer, for example, are former council members while Lopez recently sought the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisor District 4 seat that eventually went to Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn.
“I was proud of how all seven (candidates) stepped up. But only one can be appointed,” Uecker said.
That one was Winchell, who served the past eight years on the Ripon Planning Commission. His selection also means the council must now look to fill his old appointed spot.
Zuber pointed out that five had applied for the Planning Commission, filling what now appear to be three seats – one four-year term, one alternate and Winchell’s soon-to-be vacant post.
Winchell is scheduled to take the oath of office at the Jan. 20 meeting.
He mentioned during the interview that water will continue to be an important issue over the next 12 months.
“It’s still about conservation and getting people to understand how hard we’ve been hit by this three year drought,” Winchell said. “It could rain all year but that may not be enough to replenish our water needs.”
He also described himself as conservative. But at the same time, Winchell believes what’s best for the city is his top priority.
He moved to Ripon some 30 years ago when it was still a town of about 4,000. Today, the city has a population of over 14,000 but, according to Winchell, has “kept its small-town atmosphere.”
He’s now looking towards getting caught up to speed with the council.
“I know there will be a learning curve,” said Winchell, who will serve out the term that expires after November 2016.