Tim Meinken, former city council candidate, business owner and local activist, died on May 23.
His wife, Anne Giere, said he worked to expand conversations and bring more voices to local issues, especially the Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT).
“He was concerned that all opinions and voices and stances weren’t being heard at the decision-making table,” Giere said. “That’s where he saw himself being able to bring some kind of value.”
Friend Tim Unger said he met Meinken during the SDAT process and he quickly saw how balanced and humble he was.
“He was a kind person. He was quiet,” he said. “He was quick to blush if he was complimented. You don’t see many 66-year-old men blush.”
Giere said that Meinken’s council campaign was grassroots, not having any major funding. Going door-to-door was a big part of the campaign trail.
“He really got out there and people got to know him,” Giere said. “His favorite part — hard as it was — was going out and knocking on doors.”
Though he would lose his attempts at election, Giere said he never let it get him down. She said that he was able to pivot to the next goal and still made a difference in the path the city took.
Fourth District Supervisor James Gore agreed with Giere. Gore had known him personally and as a fellow candidate when he was running for county office.
“I met Tim in 2013 when we were both running for office,” Gore said. “He truly cared. He loved Healdsburg and he loved Sonoma County.”
Gore said he admired the fact that Meinken was willing to get into the mix of the political world and helped steer the conversation.
“That’s a win in democracy,” Gore said. “We need more people like Tim who will get out and get engaged. He was one of the few people in this world that was willing to go out and knock on doors.”
Gore said good governance and community engagement were top goals for Meinken. As such, he pushed for transparent pensions, open city accounting and proper planning.
“This was a guy who went to darn near every city council meeting and didn’t do it with angst,” Gore said. “Tim did a good job of getting out and letting people know what was going on.”
Gore shared his favorite personal memory of Meinken as well.
After Gore’s wife gave birth to their second child, she became sick and had to stay in the hospital.
“When we got to go home from the hospital, Tim and his wife dropped by — of all things — a meal. They brought by soup and a homemade dessert. We just sat there together and just had a damn good talk,” Gore said. “They were just kind. They didn’t want anything out of it, they just wanted to help.”
Meinken was also liked by his political opponent, former Mayor Brigette Mansell, whom he ran against in one of his council campaigns.
“From the start, as my ‘opponent,’ Tim, encouraged me, supported me and maintained a civil, collaborative relationship with me, the sole female candidate with the ‘least business experience,’” Mansell wrote. “Tim articulately and courageously spoke about the injustices, inequities and inefficiencies in our city¹s management and local governance.”
Though he would lose to Mansell in the end, she said he conceded respectfully after a long election and tally.
Unger said that Meinken didn’t care what sides came to the table, so long as they were informed and engaged.
“Quality dialogue from a greater number of people is going to yield a better outcome,” Unger said of Meinken’s philosophy.
Meinken originally hailed from Chicago, his wife from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He and Giere met in the Midwest and were married. They then moved to Denver for three years.
The two then moved out to the Bay Area in Marin County in 1988 and started a family, as well as a winery and vineyard. Giere said that though the wine industry was established in the area as a whole, the two were a part of the beginning of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers.
“He had a level of corporate experience that he could lend to friends,” Giere said. “He could stand toe-to-toe with other experts in the field.”
Giere said there was a steep learning curve, but Meinken dove right in. He eventually gave up his corporate work in San Francisco and built his Sonoma County home in 1989.
Gordian Knot Winery would turn out to be a success and he and his wife didn’t slow down as Meinken’s political motivations built. Giere said she misses him dearly now.
“I lost my perfect partner. We were partners in life, partners in work, partners as parents,” Giere said. “I’m not sure what my future will look like without him by my side but I know he would want me to get on with my life but keep him close to my heart, which I absolutely will do.”