Wondering how Winters’ shotgun wedding with Davis will turn out

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I attended my very first “Day in the Country” event last Sunday at Park Winters, and wow doesn’t even begin to cover it. The event is the annual fundraiser for the Yolo Land Trust, which seeks to preserve ag land in the county by purchasing easements from farmers to keep their land for agricultural uses rather than to be sold to a developer and transformed into another expanse of soulless, uninspired, cookie-cutter homes.

“A Day in the Country” features an eye-popping display of Yolo County meat, produce and wines, presented in a kaleidoscope of booths run by local and regional restaurants, each taking some Yolo-grown item and turning it into something scrumptious. Even Biba Caggiano herself was there, offering a crostini made with Yolo County ingredients. Now, that was almost the highlight of the day for me. Almost. Biba took second stage to Gov. Jerry Brown. There he was, standing right next to us! (It’s like they always say … he’s so much shorter than I expected!) I was a bit too shy to elbow my way in and have my husbie snap my picture with him, but I did get a few good shots myself, one of which ended up on the front page of the Express.

Very cool event, all in all, particularly seeing the cornucopia of gorgeous produce that comes from Yolo County. I felt such pride in our county, standing there in front of literally a hill of fresh tomatoes, melons, eggplant and peppers that served as the centerpiece for the event. We may have a funny name, but Yolo’s ag land is unparalleled. Let’s keep it that way, and thank you, Yolo Land Trust for your efforts to do so.

Fast-forward to Tuesday afternoon. We’re going to press as the county supervisors meeting is taking place, and our mayor pro tem, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, is keeping me updated via texting on the redistricting vote. The outcome is a big deal in Winters, because we were in danger of being extracted from our huge, mostly agricultural Fifth District and being absorbed by the Second District of Davis, which rips away our very identity, the one so fabulously displayed on Sunday.

Just after 2 p.m., the text comes in: Goodbye Fifth District, hello Second. I was a bit surprised at how sad I felt. It’s not that I don’t like Davis. I love Davis. I spend a lot of time down there on Far East Grant Avenue. But I don’t live there. And I don’t want to. I prefer living in Winters. If you have trouble grasping that, just come to our downtown on any random Friday night and you’ll get it.

Winters is distinctly different than Davis. We’re not your cuter little sister, and we don’t want to grow up to be like you. We aren’t Davis Lite. We have our own identity and our own goals, and at the county level, our own regional concerns. Will a Davis supervisor, whose constituency is mainly Davis residents, represent our regional concerns? When push comes to shove, will he do what’s best for Winters or will he satisfy the interests of the people who will get him reelected? I think the answer to that is “Duh.”

Just after the redistricting vote came in, I got an email from a Winters resident who’d been following the issue closely. He told me that Don Saylor, the Second District supervisor, was among the three who voted to hijack Winters from the Fifth District and move it into his own. The person noted, “The very first action Saylor took was to ignore the wishes of Winters residents.” Off to a flying start, I see.

Besides being carved out of the Fifth District and being subject to someone who views our concerns as secondary, I’m particularly sad that in dismantling the Fifth District, the chances of electing a county supervisor from Winters have vanished.

Thirty thousand college students aren’t going to elect someone because she or he has extensive experience in agriculture or is dedicated to preserving our small-town atmosphere rather than transforming it into a highway hub of Outback Steakhouses and PetsMarts. They’ll cast their votes based on the vast knowledge, worldly experience and foresight that comes with being 20 years old, and then graduate and move away, leaving the permanent residents behind to live with their choices. Davis may be used to this. Winters isn’t.

I’d always hoped that one of our former mayors, Dan Martinez, would someday run for a county seat. With his agriculture background and business acuity, he would’ve been stellar. Ditto for his sister, Corinne, a former Winters planning commissioner and business owner. As a county supervisor, she would’ve kicked butt and taken names. Our fast-texting mayor pro tem, the most dedicated and enthusiastic member of our community in recent memory, also shows great promise of moving up to the next level.

All three would’ve preserved our unique Fifth District identity, our role in Yolo County’s bounty, our priceless ag land. The time for Winters to weigh in with a county seat had come. And now? Poof. All gone. I guess it’ll be up to the Yolo Land Trust to preserve what we have. What we are. Will Don Saylor do that? Maybe. Will 30,000 college students? Don’t count on it.

— Email Debra at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.comwww.edebra.com and www.ipinion.com

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