Questions for City Council Candidates 2016 – Mark Winchell

  1. Please tell us about yourself, you’re interest in serving on the City Council and what

As a young person I traveled the world due to my father’s career in the military. I lived in four different states as well as England and I graduated high school in the Philippine Islands. We then moved to Merced where I attended Merced Community College and CSU Stanislaus State. My wife, Darlene and I moved to Ripon 31 years ago and have raised our family in Ripon. I have served eight years on the planning commission and two years ago I was appointed to the City Council due to the untimely passing our friend and Mayor Elden “Red” Nutt. As a self-employed wholesale distributor serving the surrounding communities, I have seen where poor planning has created less desirable communities. I will continue to working to keep Ripon a well planned and developed city.
  1. In your opinion, what are the 3 most important values or concepts city staff and the city council should emphasize in planning for the city’s future?

-I feel Ripon has both a Police and Fire Department second to none in California. The Police Department need to replace patrol cars that have excessive mileage and computer equipment that does not work properly. The city’s cooperation with the Ripon Fire District will continue to assure residents quality paramedic and fire protection. I will work to keep them fully staffed and well equipped. -Restrict growth to no more than 4% a year. Large developers would like to build large housing projects here, but want to lower our building standards. This is not acceptable to me or the community. In regards to growth, new businesses and residential growth on the north side of Highway 99 could divide our town in half and has become a concern. I believe there is a need for improvements on both the the 2nd Street overpass and the Fulton overpass, to allow safe passage for pedestrians, bicycles, joggers, etc. I feel it is important to keep Ripon a united community. -Ripon is a beautiful town, but many of the town’s streets need to be repaired. I would like to see more funds allotted from the city’s budget for yearly maintenance and repairs on roads and other infrastructure. When applicable, we should apply for state grant funds that may help us out with these needed repairs. Put aside 30% of any budget surplus yearly to repair or replace many of our roads.
  1. What do you feel are the biggest issues our city is facing and what would your plans be to work toward remedying them?

Growth will soon take place with developments such as the mixed use (residential/commercial) in the Mistin Sports Park area. The North Point Specific Plan addresses this 310 acres of planned growth. When a city decides to develop, this is an example of a well thought-out plan that will support our local economy. For example, the back-bone of this development is a beautifully landscaped corridor (CentralPaseo) that will provide a major pedestrian and bicycle route from Frontage Road (HWY 99), through the development, and all the way to the Mistin Sports Park on River Rd.. The mixed used plan would accommodate retail development, business offices, as well as other commercial uses. Also, housing options will include multifamily apartments, condominium housing, and single-family residential homes ranging in different densities. There will be a variety of parks and open spaces for recreation and public gatherings. I strongly support this plan because it is an example of smart planning. It ensures that Ripon will grow in a positive matter providing a benchmark for future development.
  1. What do you envision for the city of Ripon in the next 5-10 years?

In the future I see Ripon retaining it’s small town community feeling while growing at a modest rate. Businesses from the East Bay are expanding into the San Joaquin County and this will bring quality growth and jobs to our area. Plans for the Ace Train Station will provide commuters and visitors safe travel and it will also provide a Community Transport Center for local bus and other forms of transportation. With proper planning this growth will insure Ripon a bright and prosperous future.
  1. What actions do you think should be taken to preserve and enhance the city’s downtown area?

One of Ripon’s most cherished attributes is our beloved downtown. It is my intent to work with the Chamber of Commerce and downtown merchants to keep our historic downtown vibrant and healthy! Many visitors come to our famous Misltin park and travelers pass by on their way to Yosemite and other destinations. Our downtown and surrounding area would be a nice stopping point to eat, and shop at our businesses. There are many assorted eateries, cafes, and restaurants in town, I would like to see more visitors frequent those businesses. By adding outside and partitioned seating areas, we would create a festive and inviting atmosphere for visitors to relax and enjoy meals. Downtown events sponsored by community organizations can be a success as well. For example, Farm to Fork dinners, Farmers Market, Taste of Ripon, car shows and other events that bring more visitors to our downtown.
  1. What are some of your other goals or ideas for our city or is there anything else you’d like to add?

Ripon is looking at providing an ACE Train Community Transit Station so our residents can access their commuting destinations without need to drive and deal with stressful traffic. I support this service because it provides a more effective way to move large numbers of people, while also reducing omissions and traffic congestion. Ripon is working with a non-profit to iron out the final planning stages of a dog park on Doak Avenue. This is one of the projects our former Mayor “Red” Nutt was working on before his unfortunate passing. I strongly support the dog park and would like to see it brought to its finish. It will quickly become a valued addition to our community. We need to continue the city’s requirements to conserve water. If the drought continues, the state will require further restrictions on pumping ground water for cities and farmers.
  1. Several years back our city had to cut back during the recession by letting go many positions which we still haven’t filled. With the growing population, how do you plan to pay for the necessary infrastructure to maintain our quality of life and not become South Manteca or North Modesto?

The recovery from the recession has been an uphill battle.The Jack Tone interchange district generates approximately 60-70 per cent of the city’s income. When there is a recession or slow economy there is not enough revenue generated to cover the city’s future expenses. We need to bring more business to Ripon that are recession proof. The economy is showing signs of an economic up-swing. East Bay companies are expanding into the San Joaquin County. Examples of this are high-tech and other ecofriendly companies. Our area offer these companies room to grow and provide affordable housing for their employees. Most of the city’s jobs are currently filled; and as we grow the tax funds for the city will grow as well. Applying for grants has benefited our city for many projects in the past, and I will follow through to make sure we take advantage of these successful programs. Ripon will grow, retain and attract more advanced businesses because we offer a higher quality of life.

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