March 2012 home page

Grass Roots Heroes
Bud Emerson | Klish Way


After the awards ceremony.  Photo Stu Smith

Jacqueline Winterer.  Photo Jerry Winterer.

Jacqueline Winterer, citizen, scientist, leader, hero, warrior, role model. The County of San Diego gave her an award for outstanding leadership regarding her many years of effort battling the Fair Board on behalf of the environment. Declaring February 21 “Jacqueline Winterer Day” throughout the county, Supervisor Pam Slater-Price presented the plaque before a cheering, packed-house City Council meeting.

Accepting the award, she lauded all of the other citizens who have labored so long in this cause, Dawn Rawls, Jan McMillan, Bill Michalsky, Freda Reid, Ann Gardner, Nancy Weare, Stu Smith, John Graybill, and many more, all of whom could say “I am Jacqueline Winterer.”

The award might well have said “she speaks truth to power.” Jacqueline epitomizes the label “citizen activist.”This was not a battle, but a decades long war. She has no portfolio, not a director, not an official, not an appointee, no “L” on her sweater, but make no mistake she is a leader. She has many weapons including intelligence, courage, resourcefulness, allies, patience, and above all persistence. Once she got her teeth in the ankle of the Fair Board, she was determined to hold on until she brought that Board to its knees.

The timing of this capitulation was perfect, after a three part Sandpiper series composed by these warriors, telling the story that started back in the 1970’s when they formed the Del Mar Lagoon Committee. That Committee gave birth to the San Dieguito River Valley Joint Powers Authority, the steward of a miles long environmental treasure stretching back into the mountains of East County. The author of the third Sandpiper article last month, Dawn Rawls, urged us to support “those pesky citizens who try to constrain egregious development and increasing traffic.” Little did she know that we were about to learn that those pesky citizens forced this incredible breakthrough with the Fair Board.

This is truly an heroic story of citizen power overcoming incredible odds against a long series of powerful gubernatorial crony appointees with no line of accountability. We owe all of these Jacqueline Winterers a deep debt of gratitude. As does the environment. And I am certain they would all caution that now is not the time to rest...ever vigilant.

top row: Bill Michalsky, Jan McMillan, Freda Reid, Ann Gardner
bottom row: Dawn Rawls, Nancy Weare, Stu Smith, John Graybill


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