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Winn hopes to push Ag tourism
Supervisor-elect wants to improve water situation for SJ County
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Chuck Winn is preparing to serve as the first Ripon resident on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors since Adrian Fondse ended his service 35 years ago.

Fondse, a Ripon Almond farmer, was elected in 1973. He moved up to chairman of the board in 1980 until his move for a short period to the State Assembly.

The final tally on the recent race between Winn and Russ Munson was posted Thursday with Winn receiving nearly 53 percent of the vote and Munson 47.45 percent. The confirmation of the vote was delayed due to just under 10,000 absentee votes and some 5,000 provisional ballots that had yet to be counted. 

Winn said his calendar is already filling up with a statewide orientation set for next week with the California Supervisors Association of California at the Anaheim based Disneyland Hotel. The first two days of the conference is slated for newly elected supervisors from throughout the state and the last two days addresses those already in office.

Winn said he had spoken before the Farm Bureau just days after the Nov. 4 election where he was introduced as the “supervisor-elect.” He said he interjected, “Not yet” with that title. “It’s not over ‘til it’s over,” he told his audience. Votes had not yet been confirmed by the county registrar’s office

The Ripon mayor said he met hundreds of people as he walked the district from Lodi, to Escalon, Lockeford and Ripon. 

“They are very homogeneous – no difference between the north and the south,” he said. “It was a fulfilling experience,” he said noting he had put some 25,000 miles on his pickup truck.

Winn said he doesn’t see any specific need for change, noting that the county has been run very well especially by Supervisor Ken Vogel. He said his main focus is on Ag tourism in general where he sees 75 percent of new jobs coming from the farms and existing businesses.

He added that the county has a “great” transportation system with its RTD bus fleet.

He noted that having the two freeways – Highway 99 and Interstate 5 – running through the county gives business a great advantage. Winn noted that the existing Stockton Metropolitan Airport is another advantage with its lengthy runways that accommodate commercial air traffic.

Winn is emphatic about the airport being tapped into for international use by 2016 for the economical benefit he foresees in its usage and the bringing of more jobs to the county.

He is hoping the county can draw agricultural tourism into the county where the Lodi area already boasts a tremendous number of outstanding wineries – maybe superior to those in Napa. Winn recalled when Jack Sieglock was on the board and urged the county to donate five acres at Micke Grove to build a 400 to 500 seat conference center to serve tourists who could be bused into the county on weekends to visit the wineries.

Such a move would make San Joaquin County more visible to the outside world, Winn said. He noted that he would like to see a similar center developed in the south county part of his district – possibly in Ripon.

Winn said the Micke Grove addition could be designed with no cost to the county and bring in more opportunities in tourist and other attractions. 

“San Joaquin County has a lot of destination points and we should be able to maximize them,” he stressed. “Each area has its strengths and I’d like to see them enhanced.”

The water issue has been heavy on Winn’s mind – an issue that he feels the state has “mismanaged” in providing water for the Central Valley. He pointed out that 90 percent of the state’s population lives near the ocean and has depended entirely on rain for their domestic and farm uses. 

“Salination is becoming more attractive,” he said. “There should be plenty of water now,” he said, “with 40 percent going to agriculture, 10 percent to the cities and 50 percent to the environment.”

Winn said he thinks there is room for improvement in the water issue and hopes the opposing parties can be brought closer together on a solution. 

“If we put our heads together we can improve the situation for the state and certainly for San Joaquin County,” Winn said.

The swearing in of the new members of the Board of Supervisors is set for Friday, Jan. 5, in Stockton. The board will then elect a chairman and a vice chairman for the coming year.