The list of major decisions facing Windsor is long and lined with potentially divisive issues. The Town Council in May approved the largest housing development the town has seen since incorporation, the 387-unit Vintage Oaks development on the Town Green. Meanwhile, debates about housing and growth will be central to discussions about the town’s general plan update and renewal of Windsor’s urban growth boundary, which was approved overwhelmingly by voters 20 years ago and expires next year.
But the biggest issue confronting Windsor is something that isn’t even inside the town’s borders. The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians has proposed a 147-home development just west of Windsor — land that the tribe is seeking to have taken into trust by the federal government. A resort and a winery could follow. Some, including the current Town Council, believe the best course of action is to allow the tribe to connect to the city’s sewer and water systems in exchange for promises not to build a casino and to build a swimming pool for the community. Others believe Windsor needs to take an aggressive stand against the project, running the risk that the project will be built anyway if and when the land is taken into trust.
It’s a central issue that divides the five candidates competing for two council seats on Nov. 8. We believe the incumbents, Debora Fudge and Bruce Okrepkie, are the best qualified to steer Windsor through these important days ahead.
Having been on the council for 20 years, Fudge has had a courtside seat to the many changes since the days of rapid growth in the 1980s and early ’90s. She helped create sensible limits to expansion, was a key player in the creation of the Windsor Town Green and has been a tireless advocate for making the community a family-friendly town.
By comparison, Okrepkie is a relative newcomer, having joined the Town Council four years ago when only he and Fudge ran for the election. But in that time Okrepkie, an insurance broker and former Windsor planning commissioner, has proven to be a quick study on some of the city’s most complicated issues, including those related to land-use and utilities. He also has shown himself to be a voice of independence, given his decision to cast the swing vote in support of Windsor joining Sonoma Clean Power despite the fact that two of those who encouraged him to run, then-Mayor Robin Goble and Councilman Steve Allen, voted against the plan. Okrepkie continues to represent Windsor on the Sonoma Clean Power Agency board.
Among the other candidates, Julia Donoho, an attorney and architect, comes with an attractive list of qualifications. She has served on a planning commission and a historic preservation board, is well-respected in the architecture field and would no doubt be an excellent addition to the council — if an empty seat were available.
Both of the other candidates, Michael Wall, a health care consultant who has lived in Windsor since 2005, and Rosa Reynoza, an active community volunteer and fourth-generation Windsor resident, demonstrate passion for their community. But neither comes with any experience in government service, and both appear motivated to run by their opposition to the Lytton project.
Given the complexity of issues facing the town, Windsor voters deserve elected officials with experience and a sound vision for where the community is going. The Press Democrat supports Debora Fudge and Bruce Okrepkie for the Windsor Town Council.