WINDSOR, Calif. - The scandal-rocked town of Windsor has a new council member after a mail-in election Tuesday.
In a field of five candidates, Rosa Reynoza, 49, has an insurmountable lead with 47% of the vote.
She joins the council at a tumultuous time.
Six women have accused Mayor Dominic Foppoli of sex crimes, including his council colleague, Esther Lemus.
Multiple investigations are underway, and a recall effort is on the verge of certification.
Reynoza calls the town's turmoil "a shame."
"It hurts a lot and I'm here to give hope to our people," she said. "I want to bring back a sense of community and respect and professionalism so I'm really excited about that."
Reynoza won a council seat on her fourth try, after running in 2016, 2018, and last year, in a race for mayor in which she was beaten by council-incumbent Foppoli.
Since the assault allegations surfaced, Foppoli has "stepped back" from official duties, but refuses to resign.
Reynoza supports the recall drive against him, and petitions are expected to start circulating by mid-May.
"We will have 120 days to get 3300 signatures, and people are ready to sign," said recall leader Tim Zahner, who expects a November vote. "It's imperative that Dominic Foppoli resign or be recalled because he's lost the ability to lead the town. He cannot do his job so he needs to be removed."
Reynoza, after many years of community involvement, says she looks forward to working with other council members.
But even before the scandal, she thought Foppoli lacked professionalism in the way he conducted meetings.
"He could have done a lot better job," said Reynoza, "and it's been pointed out, council members call each other by first names or nicknames, and we're going to change that, do things by the book."
Reynoza remains focused on the issues that compelled her to keep running for office.
"I just want more community engagement and I want more transparency when it comes to development."
As a resident, she felt troubled that public input was not taken seriously by town leaders.
And in her campaign, she accepted contributions only up to $249 to avoid any appearance of conflict.
"She's a caring, giving person with the best interests of the town at heart," said backer Bob Cobb, who volunteered for Reynoza's campaign and displayed a yard sign for her.
Like Reynoza, he opposes a proposal to tear down civic buildings on the Town Green to build a luxury hotel and condominium complex.
It is a project Foppoli supports.
"A lot of people say 'we don't want to become Healdsburg', which is very tourist-focused," said Cobb.
"So this election is progress, one new face, one new seat, one new perspective on the council, it's the beginning of a transition."
Reynoza says she is committed to preserving Windsor's family-friendly character and affordability.
"People here know me as someone they can turn to, who they trust, who is here to really listen to them and represent them," she said.
And as for winning after so many failed tries?
"I'm still feeling a little overwhelmed, it's a bit surreal," she admits.
Reynoza has lived in Windsor for more than 40 years and has a background in winery management.
Her husband is a machinist and volunteer firefighter-trainee, and they have three children, 15, 18, and 21.
"They're all as excited as I am and we are all a bit burned-out on campaigning so it's going to be nice to just do the work of a council person," she smiled.
Reynoza will take office in June.