Former Calistoga Mayor Jack Gingles, 79, has passed away. City Manager Mike Kirn made the announcement Tuesday afternoon and said that flags will be flown at half-staff until Friday morning.

Gingles served as mayor of Calistoga from 2006-2012. He was one of the city’s longest-serving active politicians, having first run for office in 1974. During four decades, he served on a citizen’s advisory committee, the planning commission, and two stretches on the city council. He also worked as a dispatcher at the police department. Gingles was considered one of the old guard, joining Dr. John Wilkinson, Edy Wilkinson, Nick Rulli, Bill Berkhout, Peter Kagel and others, in serving on Calistoga’s city government.

Gingles counted among his achievements extending the VINE bus system UpValley, revamping the sewer plant, and creating the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for mobile home park residents. He was also active in the League of California Cities, the Association of Bay Area Governments, the county Local Agency Formation Commission, the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency, and the Napa County League of Governments.

State Senator Bill Dodd said, “I was able to serve with Jack on many regional boards and commissions. I found him to be of the highest integrity and always cooperative and always looking out for the people of Calistoga’s interests.”

Jack T. Gingles was born April 8, 1940, and was last known to live in Clearlake. He was also the former owner of Brannan Inn Care Home in Calistoga.

According to Lake County News, he applied for, but was not appointed, for a seat on the Clearlake Planning Commission, in October 2014.

Despite his accomplishments, Gingles’ political career was not without turmoil. His critics included those opposed to resort developments, who accused him of ignoring their arguments.

According to a report in The Weekly Calistogan in 2012, “He also admitted to taking a personal loan from a prominent San Francisco attorney, a deal brokered by a developer interested in various projects in town. Gingles denied wrongdoing, but he did amend his state financial disclosure forms to reflect the loan after The Weekly Calistogan wrote about the matter.”

That year, he opted not to run for mayor and instead ran for city council, but lost.

Current Mayor Chris Canning succeeded Gingles in 2012. “We were saddened to learn of the passing of the former Mayor Jack Gingles. He served our community well for decades and our thoughts are with his family at this time,” he said.

Calistoga businessman Jeff Manfredi served on the planning commission for 14 years and was chair for eight. When asked to comment about former Mayor Jack Gingles, Manfredi said, “He had a good run for quite a while,” adding he was sorry to hear about Gingles’ death. “He never was in the best of shape.” Manfredi said he hadn’t seen Gingles in the past two years, adding, “I never had the opportunity to run into him, since he moved to Clearlake.”

“What I remember about Jack was that he was very accessible. If I needed to chat with him about a planning commission issue, we would meet ASAP. I don’t ever think he had an agenda,” he said. The issues during Gingles’ time as mayor, from 2006 to 2012, were growth and new development and Manfredi said one of his big achievements was getting the Dunaweal bike path built.”

Summing up, Manfredi called Gingles “a real politician. He thought he could please everyone, but that was a terrible mistake.”

Former Calistoga Fire Chief and current City Council member Gary Kraus remembered Gingles as a police buff and very interested in the doings of the police department. He also used to dress up as Santa Claus every Christmas.

“Most would agree he was a character and part of the local color, both in politics and in the community. It has been a different place without him in town, and Calistoga has lost a little of its history.”

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St. Helena Star Editor Dave Stoneberg contributed to this story.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com or 942-4035.


The Weekly Calistogan Editor

Cynthia Sweeney has been editor of The Weekly Calistogan since July, 2018. Previously, she was a reporter for the St. Helena Star, and North Bay Business Journal. She also spent a significant amount of time freelancing in Hawaii.