Q&A with Windsor Council member Rosa Reynoza
Windsor is a small town that made big headlines in May 2021 when its former mayor, Dominic Foppoli, eventually resigned after a number of women made allegations of sexual assault and misconduct against him. As the town builds back from that scandal, its council faces plenty of other challenges including selecting a new town manager, balancing a budget impacted by a decline in hotel tax revenue and addressing the threats of wildfires and a global pandemic.
Rosa Reynoza, who was elected to the town council in 2021, believes the city also needs to slow down the pace of development, tackle the problem of housing affordability and maintain community involvement.
We asked the Windsor town council member about what makes Windsor special, what its challenges are, what’s being done about those challenges and what she believes the town’s future will look like.
Q: Could you start by telling me a little bit about yourself and your history with the town?
A: I've lived in Windsor since 1979, but I got involved in politics around 2015. I was … noticing stuff getting torn down and paying more attention to what's happening. I started attending town council meetings. People were looking for some new representation, and I was looking for it too. … I felt I wasn't being heard.
Q: What kinds of things were the council members doing that you didn't agree with?
A: The council at that time was like, ‘well, (the people) voted us in to make these hard decisions.’ I'm thinking, no, if I vote someone into office, I just want them to be connected to what we want … to ask us, and not just take the reins and vote how you want.
And then I finally decided, why not me? Why can't I do it, a regular resident raising a family, middle-class. I got a lot of pushback, a lot of ‘nope, someone with a full time job cannot do this. Someone with kids can't do this.’ I started campaigning my first year in 2016.
I ran every two years until I got a seat — I just kept going for it. I wasn't going to give up, especially because I knew, at that time, the council did not want me there. That motivated me even more. What (was) their concern of having … at least one of the voices on the council to be totally opposite of them? Because I feel like it needs to be diverse. What an amazing thing to have a group of five people coming together making decisions for the whole community. They don't have to be on the same page all the time.
I finally won with this whole drama with Dominic Foppoli. I've been on the council for one year now. I'll have until December to serve.
Q: I'm curious, how has all of this ‘drama’ affected the dynamics on the town council and the council's relationship with the community?
A: The (past) council members always felt like they were doing the right thing. They were always doing what they thought was the best for the community. But we've learned since then, it wasn't. It wasn't how the people would have wanted them to handle it. That's where a lot of the community started speaking up and saying, ‘We want more transparency. We want you guys to be more open and honest and let us know exactly what's happening when it's happening.’ So, the change has been that there's more involvement, and maybe that's part of COVID too, with the Zoom meetings. Everything's accessible now.
Q: Have you noticed an uptick in public participation?
A: For sure. And I hope it continues ... I actually don't want to let go of Zoom availability. I want to see that continue.
Q: Stepping back, what would you say are some things that make Windsor special?
A: Well, on a personal note, there's generations after generations of families that have lived here and raised their kids here. My grandparents moved here first in '72. And then my mother and my dad moved in '79. I'm surrounded by cousins and aunts and uncles. So many friends that I grew up with are still here.
The other nice thing is that there are so many neighborhoods that have great connections. They work together, they play together. … Everyone's going to school together. … I think we have great parks. Not only the town parks, but also surrounded by the county — Foothill and Shiloh parks.
Q: How has Windsor changed, looking over the last decade?
A: Definitely a lot wealthier people have moved into town. But it's not a bad thing … well, the bad thing is it is unaffordable for young families, or my oldest kid (who) moved back in with me. It's not as easy as it was to move into Windsor.
It's almost a town where I have everything I need besides a hospital. Walmart came in a while back, there's more options for restaurants, services, massage, nails, whatever. I only go out of town to go to the movies, maybe.