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Winkler residency remains a mystery to Saugus district

Documents show Winkler may live outside Santa Clarita Valley

Posted: June 14, 2013 6:45 p.m.
Updated: June 14, 2013 6:45 p.m.

Stephen Winkler during Thursday night's special meeting at which he was censured by fellow Saugus Union School District board members. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

While questions continue to swirl about the legal address of censured Saugus Union School District board member Stephen Winkler, those issues may not be enough to remove him from office, an official said Friday.

At the center of the latest Santa Clarita Valley Winkler issue are Los Angeles Superior Court documents in which he lists his legal address as a property on Herrick Avenue in Sylmar.

Those documents, dated August 2012 and January 2013, were drawn up by Winkler in an attempt to get a restraining order against a man who lives at the same address.

In those documents, Winkler wrote he and the other man lived “in separate rooms in the same house.”

By signing the documents, Winkler effectively confirmed he lives at the address in Sylmar, according to Saugus Union board President Judy Umeck.

By admitting during a special board meeting Thursday night that he had signed the documents, Winkler “confirmed that he does have a ‘legal residence’ in Sylmar,” Umeck said Friday. “He verified that himself by using it on a police report.”

“And he did so under the penalty of perjury,” Umeck continued. “That’s good enough for me.”
Winkler told The Signal Friday that he rents a room in the house for storage purposes and sometimes spends the night if he doesn’t feel up to driving home.

“I do party over there and if I have too much to drink, I might stay overnight,” Winkler said.

Winkler said he does not have an official rental agreement for the property in Sylmar, nor does he have a lease to rent the room. Rather, he pays the property owner cash to use the space.

Calls to the owner of the property in Sylmar were not returned Friday.

Winkler has maintained he has given the district copies of rental agreements for two properties in the Saugus district boundaries.

Umeck acknowledged she was aware of at least one of these agreements.

Winkler said he lived in the first property, located on Avenida Terraza, from September 2011 to November 2012.
The man who Winkler said was his roommate during that time was reached by phone Friday, but said he did not want to comment on the issue, then abruptly hung up.

The second property, where Winkler says he has lived since November, is located on Rio Prado Drive in Valencia. A call to the phone number listed for that address was not returned Friday.

But regardless of where Winkler spends the majority of his time, it is where he is registered to vote that may make the difference, according to a spokeswoman with the Los Angeles County Office of Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

That spokeswoman, Regina Ip, said the primary determination used for determining if somebody is eligible to run for and hold office is the address where he or she is registered to vote.

Winkler has repeatedly said he is registered to vote at the address on Rio Prado Drive. The county’s online Voter Registration Verification system seems to back this up, as someone with the last name Winkler, born the same date as him, is registered to vote in the 91354 area code at a house with the same number as Winkler’s stated address.

According to the California Education Code, elected board members must be residents of the school district they represent to be eligible to serve.

The California Government Code contains similar provisions. 

What it means to be a resident of the school district is not clearly outlined, but Ip said, as far as the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office is concerned, a person’s legal address is the one at which he or she is registered to vote.

Ip also said the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office does not keep tabs on where candidates live after they are elected to office.

“It’s an honor system,” she said Friday.

The issue of Winkler’s residency will be discussed at the next Saugus district board meeting Tuesday night. If it is determined that Winkler lives outside the Saugus district, he could be removed from office and his seat could be declared vacant.

Winkler said he still has no plans to resign his seat despite repeated calls to do so during a special board meeting Thursday night during which he was censured by fellow board members who objected to his online postings about Nazism and animal cruelty.

“What are the pluses and minuses of being removed versus resigning?” Winkler said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Citing past Republican presidents like Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, Winkler said he plans to continue to fight “right to the last minute.”

Though, he acknowledged, Nixon resigned before he was removed from office.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney



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