City seeking council candidates, hosts informational forum

Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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On Saturday, June 25, the City of Winters hosted a public candidate forum to present general information about operation of the city and responsibilities of the city council to potential candidates in advance of the November election.

The next election on Nov. 8, during the general election, will have three of the five council seats up for election. Eligible candidates must be at least 18 years old, and live and be registered to vote in Winters. Council terms are four years.

City Manager Kathleen Salguero Trepa and Executive Assistant/Deputy City Clerk Ellena Branson presented to eight members of the public. Mayor Wade Cowan and councilmember Jesse Loren were present to answer questions first-hand about the responsibilities and function of the City Council.

City 101
The City of Winters operates under a city manager/city council form of government, as do most California cities. Under this form of governance, the city council is responsible for establishing policy, local ordinances and the general vision of the city. The city manager is responsible for the day-to-day operation and implementing council adopted policy direction.

Trepa and Branson led a PowerPoint presentation and provided an informative handout to attendees. The first part of their presentation covered the various roles of the city council, city staff and the various city advisory commissions. The only mandatory commission, Trepa said, is the Planning Commission.

Cowan and Loren offered insights and tips on the time commitment for council members, stressing

that attending council meetings are but a piece of their responsibility. 

Representing Winters in state, county and local committees is also a responsibility and each council member has several committee assignments. Council members act as liaisons to about 30 committees and commissions, attend their meetings and report relevant information back to the council.

Qualities mentioned that a councilmember should possess include being open-minded, collaborative and having a desire to represent the community. Michael Olivas, Winters resident and former Winters Joint Unified School Board of Trustee member, reflected on his experience as a Trustee and cautioned attendees, “Don’t get caught in the weeds.”

Meeting information
City Council meetings operate under rules of the Brown Act which was enacted to ensure the public of their right to attend and participate in meetings while upholding transparency in local government.

Councilmembers are required sign a Code of Conduct that details what is expected of each councilmember which covers Winters’ form of government, fairness, honesty/integrity, responsibility and respect. As stated in the code, “Demonstrating respect for each individual through words and actions can help guide Councilmembers to do the right thing in even the most difficult situations.”

Filing dates
There are important dates and deadlines for candidates to follow. The first is the candidate nomination period between July 18 and Aug.12 when candidates are to file their Declaration of Candidacy and Nomination papers.

General election information is available on the city’s website at

Community members who are interested in learning about more specific election information or who are considering a run for a city council seat is encouraged to contact Branson by phone at 530-794-6702, or by email at

Update: To reflect statement from Michael Olivas.

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