Winters Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, who claims a track record as a businesswoman, farmer and community leader, has announced she will enter the race for the open 4th Assembly District seat vacated when Bill Dodd decided to run for the Senate. She joins fellow Democrats, Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor and Davis Mayor Dan Wolk as announced candidates.
Ms. Aguiar-Curry is the first woman Mayor of Winters, a businesswoman, and co-owner of her family’s farm. She is a former Planning Commissioner and City Councilmember who currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Sacramento Council of Governments, as Chair of the Yolo Housing Commission, and Vice Chair of the Yolo County Water Association.
In a press release, it states that, as mayor, she has worked to bring an agricultural innovation hub to western Yolo County, build a state-of-the-art senior housing development, secure computers for local schools, and encourage downtown economic development. Her leadership helped bring a $75 million PG&E training center to Winters and helped achieve the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument designation.
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry sat down with the Vanguard last week at its offices in Pollinate Davis. She said that for years she had worked with the League of California Cities on behalf of rural communities that she sees as “underrepresented.”
“I thought it was a really good time for me to run, I have some big successes behind me,” she said. “People realize that there are big things that we are doing from a small community perspective and a small community can, with collaboration and regionalism, can really make a difference.”
Ms. Aguiar-Curry was raised in Winters, arrived there in 1957. Her father was a long-time high school ag teacher. They also had a small ranch, which her brothers and she continue to farm. She started out going to Chico State, got married and ultimately went to San Jose State, where she earned degrees in business administration and accounting.
She then got divorced, moved back to Winters and raised her two daughters.
At that point she got the “politics bug,” she said. “I really like serving and I like making change. I love Winters, I have a passion to make that a better place.”
In 2008, when the economy collapsed, she want to figure out how to make a better future in Winters. At that point she said she sat down with her city council to discuss how to make Winters a vital hotspot in Yolo County – “we all agreed that any way the city could collaborate to make the schools better, they would do that.”
With some work they were able to bring in a couple of $300,000 grants to help the schools.
Another issue is that Winters, like many rural communities, has had “dismal internet connectivity,” she said. Most of the big internet providers, like AT&T and Verizon – “they are interested in providing broadband infrastructure only in the bigger cities.” Coming to rural communities is low on their priority scales.
In her view, rural communities were the last to get things like water, sewer and electricity, and she did not want them to be the last to get internet as well. So one of the big things they have been working on in Winters is getting internet connectivity throughout the area.
She said, “Why am I running? Because I want to make a change. Economic development is huge. Education is huge. Agriculture is huge.”
On education, she said, “I’d like to see vocational education brought back. A lot of the trades are going away.” She said, “I think a lot of the trades are really struggling.” She sees that the new economy has changed things and we are not keeping up with some of those changes.
Regionally, she sees agriculture and economic development as huge issues across the district. “Regionally,” she said, “I have worked with SACOG and worked with the cities on different transportation issues. We’ve worked with rural-urban connections. We’ve worked with business for ag-businesses and ag-hubs.”
She added that the $75 million PG&E training center is coming to Winters.
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry has been honored for her leadership.
Cecilia’s awards and recognition include: “Women Who Mean Business” award from the Sacramento Business Journal; One of Congressman John Garamendi’s 2015 “Women of the Year”; “California Emerging Technology Broadband Champion” for her leadership in promoting improved, affordable broadband access throughout the region; Winters Chamber of Commerce “Woman of the Year” in 2015; and California State Fair “2015 Champion of Technology Award.”
In an article last year in the Sacramento Business Journal, which recognized her along with several other women leaders in the region, including Davis’ Councilmember Rochelle Swanson, they wrote “It’s Aguiar-Curry’s official ‘day job’ that has made her a strong public official. As founder of CMAC, which stands for Community Mitigation and Consulting, she has done public outreach with government agencies on the West Coast for 14 years. For 11 years, she handled community relations for the Freeport Regional Water Authority, working with residents, businesses and farms affected by a water intake plant and 17-mile pipeline on the Sacramento River.”
The article continued, “’Aguiar-Curry’s strength was having a wide vision of the stakeholders and the issues,’ said Christine Harris, a public-outreach consultant for water and wastewater projects and Aguiar-Curry’s boss for the Freeport project.”
Ms. Aguiar-Curry explained that “I have had to work from the bottom up getting these projects in – environmental all the way to implementation.” She explained working on an East Bay MUD project, “You learn a lot on a big project – you learn about people, politics, you learn about enviros, construction, engineering, you learn about everything. I think all those tools can help work on any kind of projects in the city.”
She said, “If you can do it in a small town, you can do it in a big town. You have to have leadership to do it.”
Ms. Aguiar-Curry told the Vanguard, “What I bring to the table is I think I’m a really strong leader and people around the region know I’m a really strong leader and that I work hard.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting