Rep. Mike Thompson has named a community activist, Mary Jane Bowker, as Napa County’s Woman of the Year, and a Napa County Sheriff’s deputy, Riley Jarecki, as Honorary Woman of the Year and First Responder of the Year.
Jarecki was cited for “professionalism amidst intense pressure,” for her actions on the night of Feb. 17 when she confronted a parked motorist in rural Napa County. The motorist fired at her without warning, the department reported. Jarecki, who was not hit, returned fire, killing her assailant. A sheriff’s video captured key moments of the encounter.
In his citation honoring Bowker, Thompson said she is “at the heart of political organizing up and down the Napa Valley. She’s a strong defender of our democratic values and devotes much of her time, energy and resources to bettering our community.”
Bowker has had leadership roles with Progressive Women of Napa Valley and Napa Valley ACTS. Through Progressive Women of Napa Valley, she has trained numerous residents to constructively engage their local, state and federal representatives. She works within Napa Valley ACTS to promote progressive activist collaboration and support the annual Napa Valley Women’s March.
Bowker has been instrumental in planning and organizing some of the biggest political events in Napa, including the Napa Valley Women’s Marches, Rock the Congress and Rock the Ride, Thompson said.
Thompson noted that Bowker has been his campaign events coordinator since 2002, planning events for him to engage with the community.
She has been married to Dennis Bowker since 1972, with whom she has two sons. She is also the grandmother to four grandchildren.
Jarecki comes from a family with a history of public service, Thompson said. She follows in the footsteps of her father, a sheriff’s sergeant, and her grandfather who was a Napa Police Department captain.
She has coached girls soccer for Napa Blaze and the Napa Sheriff Activities League.