After more than 12 years spent immersing himself in water, growth and other issues, Mike Winn has decided this year will be his last on the Nipomo Community Services District board.
Winn’s announcement that he won’t seek re-election in November leaves a void during a critical time for the services district board, which is determining its next move after local property owners voted against a plan to pay to bring extra water to the community from Santa Maria.
Longtime board member Ed Eby’s seat is also up for election this fall. He plans to run for re-election.
While they’ve found themselves on opposing sides of a few issues — including the district’s most recent water rate increase — Eby said he’s always found Winn’s opinions to be “well supported and logical.”
“The (district) will definitely be at a loss from his departure,” he said.
Former board member Bob Blair and former district employee Ernest Thompson have also filed paperwork to run.
Besides serving 12 years on the district board, for seven years Winn has chaired the county’s Water Resources Advisory Committee, which advises the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors on water-related issues countywide.
There, he became known as a thoughtful, meticulous leader and established a practice of appointing subcommittees to delve into issues more thoroughly, county Supervisor Jim Patterson said.
“Overall, we’re losing a capable person who always had the public at large at heart,” said Central Coast Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, who as county supervisor appointed Winn to the water advisory board in 2001.
At times, Winn upset those who felt he didn’t do enough to oppose large development projects on the Nipomo Mesa, such as The Woodlands, or to support the now-defunct activist group Save the Mesa.
“At one time, it did not seem that he was too environmentally supportive,” said Dan Woodson, past chairman of the South County Advisory Committee.
Winn said opposing projects isn’t as simple as “getting three out of five votes” and instead requires the district board to make specific findings laid out in state water codes.
His perspective toward water issues has changed over the past decade.
“Twelve years ago, I thought we’d have plenty of water,” Winn said. “I thought we had lots of time. But the old days of having plenty of water at cheap rates are gone and it’s hard for people like me who were born and raised here to shift paradigms.”