Winkler-Beach Making A Stand As Dean Of Candidates

If Thelma Winkler-Beach is elected to the California Assembly this year, upon being sworn in she will become the senior member of the legislature. That is because, at the age of 94, she is the oldest candidate in California seeking state office.
Her age is no handicap, as she remains as spry as others four decades her junior and her mental alacrity surpasses that of her opponents as was demonstrated when she made herself available to the editorial board of the Riverside Press Enterprise, which was interviewing candidates in the 47th Assembly District collectively. While the other candidates whose ages combined did not equal Winkler-Beach’s responded to the board’s questions relying on index cards and pre-written position statements, Winkler-Beach was the only one who had no notes and she, in the words of one of the participants, was the only one to “spit out the answers short and quick.”
A Republican, Winkler-Beach is one of the leading members of her party as an alternate member of the San Bernardino County Republican Central Committee, which oversees the GOP at the local level.
In explaining to the Sentinel her position with regard to current issues facing the 47th Assembly District and California as a whole, Beach-Winkler sought to make a case for her candidacy.
To correct California’s chronic budget problems, Winkler-Beach said, she wanted to “look at cutting out waste and the duplication of services. I’d look at the budget with the budget director of all agencies. I’d listen to the heads of all departments. I would make a long, comprehensive review of the system and restructure the approach and responsibilities with new innovative methods of setting aside funds for pensions and education in a manner that does not impact negatively on our future generations.”
With respect to the state’s taxing structure, she said she would not support raising taxes but would plug the budget gap by jump-starting the economy to broaden the tax base. “I would support efforts to increase the tax base to raise greater revenues without the need for tax increases,” she said. “I oppose tax increases through rate hikes. Tax increases should be acquired through tax base growth. Loopholes in tax codes must be reviewed. Services should be provided through means of addressing loopholes and deregulation of laws that drive out businesses and are counterproductive to growth. Growth in the local economy will resolve many tight budget issues. I support cuts in areas that require greater expense than in the private sector.  Each area of government services should provide the same quality as the private entities and at comparable costs.  Once this baseline is established, then specific cuts can be applied. We must continue to support our senior citizens, and the disabled, without mitigating down their quality of care.”
Winkler-Beach said the current system of pension and health care benefits for public-sector retirees would soon bankrupt the state and had to be reformed. “The issue of pension reform and health care benefits must be on the table for sustainability for future generations, as the present system is not sustainable for the near future.”
She said she was opposed to pursuing a high speed rail system as a state project and made a pun in expressing her opposition. “The state is on the wrong track,” she said. “Let the private sector address rail projects.”
Winkler-Beach said the state had to ensure a reliable water supply through “programs that do not drain water resources, including water recycling. Innovative approaches such as desalinization and storage of excess snow runoff are important to mitigate water waste.”
With regard to turning around the markedly high poverty rate within portions of the 47th Assembly District, Winkler-Beach called for “Education programs oriented to vocations, coupled with development or manufacturing opportunities in the community; deregulation and working as partners with the private sector.  Reassessing opportunities to tie into medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing business would be a first step.” This approach, she said, “would also allow individuals in the 47th to get a broader view of global opportunity.”
Winkler-Beach said her top three legislative priorities for the 2013-14 session would be to “fix the budget problems, create business growth incentives and to be a voice for issues related to senior citizens and the disabled.”
If the voters choose her to represent them, Winkler-Beach said, “I will go to Sacramento with an open mind and a good many years of experience, a copy of the Constitution, my Bible and a dictionary. I will concentrate on the economy, jobs, taxes and a no frills budget.  I will stress free enterprise and less government intervention and be conservative in all areas, including pensions and a budget that is simple, specific and doable. I would look at all regulations the businesses complain are most troublesome and hamper them to see if they could be modulated.”
She said she intends to “address AB109, the early release of felons, and address securing our borders. I would alter some laws that would help prison overcrowding and stop putting felons on parole.”
Furthermore, she said, “I would support AB 1539, the $3 fee to all moving traffic fines in order to support spinal cord research, more specifically, the use of embryonic stem cell research. I would vote no on Proposition 28, which contains language written to confuse voters on term limits. I would want to know and read all the pending bills. I would ask all mayors to send me a list of five of their most pressing problems and work with them to help solve them.”
Winkler said, “I’d want to prohibit the schools from teaching what the parents should be teaching, or choose not to teach, at home, like homosexuality, etcetera.”
Winkler-Beach was born and raised in South Carolina. She married and moved to New York, where she began her career with the New York City Department of Corrections. In New York, she became active in trying to get physically disabled children in school.  Working in conjunction with the PTA, the New York City Board of Education and legislators in Albany and Washington D.C., she obtained for disabled students the right to attend public schools, but was dissatisfied with a requirement that they be separated from the general student population into so-called “Health Improvement Classes.”  She pushed for, and was successful in having the Mainstreaming Law included in the Civil Rights Law.
Her continuing commitment to equitable treatment of the handicapped was proven out in her efforts to ensure that educational funding for the handicapped was not diverted to other programs, as well as her advocacy for disabled veterans, including obtaining “kneeling” buses, curb cuts, and accessibility to the subway for those using wheelchairs and walkers.
A resident of Grand Terrace since 1983, she has been involved in a multitude of community improvement efforts, operating a referral center for senior citizens out of her home and successfully lobbying city officials to build a senior citizen center.
In 1995 she received from the state legislature and the Inland Caregiver Resource Board the California Family Caregiver Award for her “exemplary courage, dedication and commitment as a caregiver and her tireless commitment in meeting with local and state officials and their staffs, educating them on the challenges of long-term care and the needs of families that provide it.”
Among her organizational affiliations, Beach-Winkler is a member of  the Friends of Reagan Park, Grand Terrace Republican Woman, the Grand Terrace Woman’s Club, the Grand Terrace Chamber of Commerce, the Grand Terrace Friends of the Library, and the San Bernardino County Federation of Republican Women.
Winkler was educated at Manhattan Community College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She worked with the New York City Department of Corrections, where she promoted into a position of budget analyst and eventually achieved a position there as a senior administrative staff member before she retired.
She is widowed with two grown sons, William and John, one grandson, John, Jr., and “one beautiful great granddaughter,” Rhianon.

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