St. Helena attorney and Napa Valley College Trustee Rafael Rios III and Yountville Mayor John Dunbar are the fifth and sixth people to announce they are running for Diane Dillon’s seat on the Napa County Board of Supervisors.
Rios and Dunbar join a growing field of contenders also made up of St. Helena City Councilmember Anna Chouteau, Napa County Planning Commissioner Anne Cottrell, grapegrower Cio Perez, and Napa Valley College Trustee Ines DeLuna.
Dillon announced in January that she would not run for a sixth term after representing the vast District 3 since 2002.
Rios came to the Napa Valley from Mexico in 1968 after his family was granted permanent residency based on a petition from his father, who was working in California under the Bracero Program. He graduated from St. Helena High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture at UC Davis, a law degree from Santa Clara University, and an MBA in wine business from Sonoma State University.
“I have experienced a lifetime of changes in our community, and the challenges faced by residents, small businesses, and agriculture as the Valley has grown more and more dependent on tourism and a popular location for second and vacation homes,” Rios said in a statement. “The issues we face cannot be solved in isolation.
“We need to work towards a balance that keeps our limited industries healthy, gives our residents economic and housing security, and maintains the environment in a condition that continues to enrich our quality of life and supports our local economy. My background, education, and experience give me a unique perspective and skill set that will allow me to effectively work with others to identify our common goals and work towards solving the challenges we face.”
Rios practiced with Coombs & Dunlap before starting his own law practice in 2009 specializing in the wine and vineyard industries and small business.
Rios is in his ninth year on the Napa Valley College Board of Trustees, where he serves alongside fellow contender Ines DeLuna. Rios has also served as a boardmember for the Napa County Hispanic Network, St. Helena Chamber of Commerce, Calistoga Family Center and Mexican American Vintners Association, and as committee member of the Community Health Assessment Group of the St. Helena Hospital Foundation.
Dunbar, who retired from UC-Berkeley’s Athletics Department in 2013, has lived in Yountville since 1998 and served as mayor since 2010. He’s also served on various local, regional and statewide governing bodies, including as 2019-2020 president of the League of California Cities.
“Strong and rapid economic recovery from the pandemic and years of devastating wildfires is critical to ensuring we have the resources we need to support our residents and businesses, while it also allows us to remain focused on climate action initiatives that provide long-term protection of the Napa Valley,” Dunbar said in a statement.
“I’ve had an opportunity to engage with residents in Yountville and throughout the Napa Valley on a wide range of issues and have taken those concerns to heart to determine how we can govern more efficiently and effectively.”
Dunbar has served on the Napa County Economic Recovery Task Force, Napa County Climate Action Committee, Napa County League of Governments, and on the boards of directors for the Napa County Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Napa Valley Transportation Authority, Association of Bay Area Governments, MCE (formerly Marin Clean Energy) and the Pathway Home, among others.
“My diverse experience as Mayor and a leader on boards and commissions focused on transportation, water conservation, climate action and economic recovery will be invaluable as we continue focusing on the health, safety and well-being of our residents,” Dunbar said. “I look forward to engaging up-valley residents of all backgrounds to listen, engage and work together for a vibrant future for our Napa Valley community.”
District 3 candidates will compete in the primary on June 7, 2022. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates will enter a runoff in November.
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You can reach Jesse Duarte at 967-6803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.