Winholtz’s mark on Morro Bay

Since she moved from a small college town in Iowa to settle in Morro Bay 25 years ago, life for Betty Winholtz has centered around tutoring math and English, making music, discovering a passion for community affairs and environmental advocacy and enjoying long-time friendships of both the human kind and furry kind.

Winholtz and deceased life partner Rick Porter searched the map for a small California coastal community.

They were both musical. He got involved at church. She was lured by John Baker to join the Morro Bay White Caps. While honing her tutoring techniques at Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes in San Luis Obispo, parents wanted her talents full-time in Morro Bay and found her students to establish her own home-based clientele.

Awareness of community issues flourished within her neighborhood — first over the power plant and then with 178 trees threatened for removal at Morro Bay State Park. Through Save the Park, the tree advocates saved all but 80 trees. When an Embarcadero development was allowed in 2003 to clear-cut 56 trees, Winholtz ran for City Council.

“We used to have loads of monarchs (butterflies) in Morro Bay,” she lamented. “If we are going to be a tree city, bird sanctuary, habitat for nature, then we need to have and follow the rules to protect our environment.”

Winholtz believes she added a professional demeanor to the council.

“For me, casual dress symbolized an attitude of sport, not the serious business of running a city. I wore business suits every meeting. I addressed others formally by their surname. My fellow councilwomen started dressing up, and eventually the men joined.

“The formal demeanor gave the air of respect and seriousness which is the proper disposition when addressing the city’s business. That standard continued through my eight years.”

She cautions her successors to “read and uphold the General Plan and work cooperatively with other agencies in a timely fashion. Follow the code, ordinances and General Plan, as the public expects its government to do.

“It will require vigilance. One of the major tenets of a democracy is to be treated equally before the law. For me, before the law means before City Council also.”

She’s concerned about the new waste-water treatment plant and the escalating sewer bills. She hopes the residents educate themselves now and vocalize their views about the decisions being made.

Winholtz said her plans included tutoring “because public school math requirements are increasingly difficult,” and she’ll participate in government meetings “regarding issues that are important to me.”

Long ago, a former wise councilman mentored her to be prepared because the devil is always buried in the details.

Reach Judy at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.