2020 marks the first year that Windsor will be participating in district elections, and the first time they will be voting for an at-large mayor.
There are four candidates for this seat. In order to prevent an overly-long article, we have split the candidates into two sets, the first is the newcomers, that is, candidates who are not current council members, the second is the current council members. The “newbies” profiled here include Rosa Reynoza, 48, a local small business owner and Tanya Potter, 41, a probation supervisor.
The Times is offering this Q&A to hope local residents gain insight into the candidates and their beliefs and plans. All candidates were provided the same questions to answer in their own words and the same time frame in which to answer them. Answers have been edited for grammar and style.
A similar, separate article will be produced for the mayoral candidates who are currently on the council, Sam Salmon and Dominic Foppoli, and one for the two candidates running for the District 3 town council seat.
What do you see as the top two issues facing the town at this time?
RR: Lack of transparency and the future of the Civic Center/Town Green.
TP: The two top issues facing our town are emergency preparedness and bringing vibrancy to the Town Green. There are currently five empty storefronts and businesses that have been able to stay, are struggling.
How would you see solving each of those issues? Give concrete examples.
RR: I would increase transparency with my honest open nature, I would work with public access channels to increase the visibility of the meetings and add Spanish subtitles/ASL. I would have open inclusive round table meetings. I would increase visibility for posted developments and "intent to develop” signs by posting readable details at various locations around town. I would request a new additional detailed survey about what people really want for the Civic Center/Town Green. I will listen to the people.
TP: I will work collaboratively with town staff to create an emergency plan that engages community residents as partners in emergency planning. Creating preparedness efforts at the neighborhood level using communication models that increase awareness, training, planning and effectiveness for response to future emergencies regardless of what may come our way. Engaging volunteers at the neighborhood level allows each section of the community to have tailored plans, neighborhood leaders and effective communication to ensure safe responses and evacuations if necessary.
Our small businesses need support and a strong plan to bring more customers to the area. I will work to build the Town Green to work within our current “Station Area” plan by proposing to add an additional day to “Street Eats” and working with the downtown merchants to brand the Town Green area as a shopping district. More retail stores that increase the foot traffic in the downtown area would bring increased customers to the downtown stores.
What strengths would you bring to the role of mayor?
RR: I am honest, and people trust me. They know I listen and will represent them. My organizational and efficiency skills will allow me to be very productive. In addition to being all-inclusive, I am also bilingual in Spanish.
TP: With over 15 years of experience in crisis response and emergency planning, I bring a background that no other candidate possesses. We have a great plan for the growth of our town, now we need a great plan for emergency response, and I am the candidate that can make that happen.
Where will you need to grow or learn as the mayor if elected?
RR: Although I have attended meeting for more than five years as a citizen, I have not had the opportunity to know what happens on the other side of the dais, or behind the door of the closed door sessions. I am excited to learn this and have a fuller view of the town’s functions. I would like to better understand the current working relationship between the town and the Windsor Unified School District, to enable me to strengthen this relationship.
TP: There will be a learning curve initially as there is in any new position. I look forward to learning as much as possible about current and past town projects and establishing closer relationships with residents, other council members and town staff.
What’s the most important thing the town is doing that needs more support, from both the citizenry and the council?
RR: Better emergency preparedness for everyone. Better coordination from all the town services, fire department, police department and nonprofits would make Windsor safer for every single life.
TP: The most important thing the town is doing that needs more support from the citizenry and council is trying to plan for the future. This town belongs to its residents and we need more residents to engage in what is happening. However, we also need our council to listen to the residents. Whether we’re planning for emergencies, growth or affordable housing, we need citizen engagement, and we need a council who listens and understands the needs of the entire community.
Describe your process for making a decision on a complex issue.
RR: My decision making process is well established. Get all the facts first: from meetings, staff reports, constituents, hearings, etc. List all the pros and cons, both actual and potential, and then make a decision that is based on facts.
TP: When making any decision, I research the issue and reach out to experts in the subject area as much as possible before making the decision. Additionally, as mayor, I will engage with the community and understand what they want for the town. Communication is crucial when making and executing decisions, having community input helps to make those complex decisions count for the community.
Describe the impacts you are seeing from COVID-19 and what you would do to mitigate them.
RR: COVID-19 has impacted many in Windsor’s security; both financially, physically and mental health-wise, housing and safety. I am currently directly involved in helping those in need and will continue to do so. I would share my knowledge with the economic director and have them work with our businesses to ensure they know about all available resources. I would also work with the county to jointly help mitigate those impacts.
TP: There are many impacts to COVID-19, those readily in view and those hidden due to community members having less interactions with each other. I see children and families struggling to work while their children are distance learning. Some families can make it work but others struggle. We see businesses struggling, restaurants are limited to outdoor seating only, which is now impacted by air quality, ash and smoke. To mitigate some of the impacts, I would vote to extend, “Streets Eats,” an additional day of the week to encourage more residents to come out and eat at local restaurants. I would urge the town to extend permitting for outdoor eating even past indoor re-openings to give restaurants the ability to increase their capacity and thrive as they attempt to make up for the shutdown I would also be in favor of using town property and facilities to help the schools to open safely and have more safe options for after school care. We need to support our schools so that our children can get back to a normal way of life.
With fire season now part of the new normal, name a single action that you feel would have the most impact on mitigating the impacts of fire season on Windsor.
RR: To not allow any additional lands on the outside edges of Windsor to be annexed into the town; removing our buffers and vineyards to allow for growth/development on the edges of Windsor is in opposition to our stated and desired city-centered growth.
TP: Our town needs to work collaboratively with Sonoma County to actively maintain the forestry areas surrounding our town, reducing fuels and vegetation to mitigate the opportunity for wildfires to reach neighborhoods, such as happened in the Kincade Fire. This would reduce the overall risk of another wildfire in our town and in the event of another fire, would give our firefighters time to save property, evacuate families and ensure we can return to our homes safely.