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Saugus school board declares Stephen Winkler's seat vacant

Posted: June 18, 2013 10:32 p.m.
Updated: June 18, 2013 10:32 p.m.

Stephen Winkler, left, is lead from the Saugus Union School District headquarters by Santa Clarita Sheriff's Deputy Tim Ferrone after Winkler's seat was declared vacant at Tuesday night's board meeting. Photo by Dan Watson.

 

Members of the Saugus Union School District board voted 4-1 Tuesday night to declare Stephen Winkler’s board seat vacant, saying he does not reside within the school district boundaries.

Winkler’s residency status had been the result of a months-long investigation by the district to determine whether he lives at an address on Rio Prado Drive in Valencia, as he claimed, or at an address in Sylmar, where he admits renting a room.

Board members said the evidence clearly points to the latter.

“The evidence was fairly overwhelming,” said board member Doug Bryce, who removed Winkler’s nameplate from the dais shortly after the board vote.

Part of that evidence is the fact that Winkler listed his legal address as a property on Herrick Avenue in Sylmar in two Los Angeles County Superior Court documents.

Those documents, dated August 2012 and January 2013, detail attempts by Winkler to get a restraining order against another man who lives at the same address.

In one of those documents, Winkler wrote he and the other man lived “in separate rooms in the same house.”
Winkler, who was elected in 2011, said he only rents a room in the house for storage and occasionally stays there after “partying,” when he’s had too much to drink and does not want to drive.

Another piece of evidence was the testimony of a private investigator that was hired in March to observe Winkler’s activities in an attempt to discern where he lived.

In an affidavit submitted to the district, the investigator, George Franco, said he never observed Winkler entering or exiting the address on Rio Prado Drive, but observed him entering the Sylmar residence several times.

Franco also said he interviewed Robert Bradley, the man who owns the Sylmar property. Though Bradley repeatedly stated Winkler did not live at the address, he said Winkler had rented a room there for more than 10 years, according to Franco.

After the vote, Winkler said the allegations that he lives outside the district are “completely false” but indicated he does not plan to fight the board’s ruling.

“Like I said, this is my last press conference,” Winkler told a group of reporters after the vote. “And they’re not going to have Winkler to kick around anymore.”

Both board members and district officials said they were eager to get back to business.

“We need to get back to what’s important and that’s the kids of this district,” Bryce said.

Saugus district Superintendent Joan Lucid said she too thought it was time to refocus the district’s attention on education.

Per state law, the district will hold a special election to serve the remainder of Winkler’s term along with the regular board elections in November.

Winkler’s term runs through 2015.

But after Tuesday’s board meeting, Winkler said he has simpler goals in mind.

“I’m going to go visit my brother because I need to, shall we say, party,” Winkler said.

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