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Rosa Reynoza dominates Windsor council vote

All-mail special election to fill seat vacated when Dominic Foppoli was elected mayor in November; no updates coming late Tuesday night

The fourth time was the charm for Rosa Reynoza, who held a wide lead Tuesday night in a special election for a vacant Windsor Town Council seat, with Sonoma County’s fourth-largest city convulsed by sexual assault and abuse accusations against Mayor Dominic Foppoli.

Reynoza, who ran unsuccessfully for council seats in 2016 and 2018 and lost the mayor’s race to Foppoli last year, had 47% of the vote in the only results to be announced by county elections officials Tuesday night.

Reynoza, a Windsor resident since 1979, was far ahead of Jeffrey Leasure and Oscar Chavez, who were tied with 17% of the vote, while Julia Donoho had 16%.

“It’s a little hard to take in,” Reynoza said as she celebrated with family and longtime supporters Tuesday night on the Town Green. “It feels a little surreal, I’ve been trying for so long.”

Reynoza, 49, and a Windsor resident since 1979, credited her success to tenacity. “Voters appreciated that I didn’t give up. I just kept at it,” she said.

Reynoza, who works part-time and from home as an administrative assistant for Fetzer Vineyards in Hopland, said her office-seeking streak began after attending council meetings in 2015 when she felt overlooked.

Her campaign stressed a call for town government to be more transparent and communicative “even if it’s just about a stop sign,” she said prior to the election.

The results posted at 8 p.m. Tuesday were based on the 5,861 ballots counted, which would amount to a 34% turnout by Windsor’s 17,050 registered voters.

Deva Proto, the county elections chief, said no further results would be released Tuesday night.

Elections officials said the report included the bulk of returned ballots expected in the citywide special election.

Chavez, who served on the Windsor Unified School District board from 2012-15, was making his first run for the council.

Leasure ran for the council in 2002 and again last year, losing to Councilwoman Debora Fudge.

Julia Donoho, who ran for the council in 2006 and 2015, had 16% of the vote Tuesday. Cody Wilson, a political newcomer, had 2%.

Susan Oster, who voted for Reynoza, said the Foppoli scandal had overshadowed the election.

“That’s how the day starts,” she said, with people discussing the latest news and wondering “what he’s doing.”

Foppoli has resisted the widespread calls for his resignation but has stepped back from his regular duties as mayor while a recall campaign is under way.

“It’s unfortunate that this is what’s driving the discussion,” Oster said. “It should be on the future of the town.”

Taylor Dick, who voted for Donoho, said the controversy “definitely brought a lot of attention” to the election but stopped short of saying it had displaced interest in the vote.

Social media platforms mounted by Windsor residents have been alive with comments about the candidates, voter Anna Kohtz said.

All six of the voters interviewed at the ballot drop box Tuesday said Windsor’s key issue is developer Robert Green’s proposed hotel on the Town Green.

“I’d like to keep it how it is,” said Lili Sanchez, who voted for Reynoza. “I don’t want to be like Healdsburg.”

The 8 p.m. results included ballots received in the mail through Tuesday and those placed in ballot boxes before noon on Tuesday. Ballots dropped in boxes Tuesday afternoon will be processed starting Wednesday.

Ballots that were postmarked on or before Election Day and received in the mail by Friday will also be processed as they are received.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or guy.kovner@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @guykovner.

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