Valley News -

By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

City mourns unexpected passing of the 'people's mayor'

 

Last updated 5/21/2018 at 8:20am

Shane Gibson

Menifee Mayor Neil Winter speaks about the city's recent accomplishments and future vision during the Menifee People's State of the City 2017 at the Menifee Lakes Country Club, June 15, 2017. Winter died Saturday evening, May 19, according to city officials. Shane Gibson photo.

The city of Menifee is mourning the unexpected passing of Mayor Neil Winter, 65, this morning.

Winter died in the late evening hours Saturday, May 19.

Known about town as the "People's Mayor," Winter was elected to the city's top post following a grassroots campaign in 2016, when he beat out incumbent Mayor Scott Mann. He prided himself on his availability, devoting all his time as a retiree to the city.

Winter took a less conventional route to his council seat, which involved standing on street corners with his wife in order to grow a solid voter base. He said that he took this approach so that his supporters would recognize his devotion to the city.

"Most people who know me know I am very apolitical," Winter said. "I am not a politician. I don't really have anything to gain by being mayor, but the biggest reason that I ran is because I saw that we needed a change."

Winter was a retired teacher and software executive. Before his election he was active with the Menifee Chamber of Commerce and had been a resident of the city since 2005. He made his first bid for Menifee City Council in 2015 coming in second in a field of four.

Winter was a strong advocate for open communication between the city and its residents.

Shane Gibson

Neil Winter elected as the city of Menifee's new mayor after a successful grassroots campaign. Mayor Winter wants to put a strong emphasis on transparency, and communication between the council and residents of Menifee. Neil Winter elected as the city of Menifee's new mayor after a successful grassroots campaign. Mayor Winter wants to put a strong emphasis on transparency, and communication between the council and residents of Menifee. Neil Winter elected as the city of Menifee's new mayor after a successful grassroots campaign. Mayor Winter wants to put a strong emphasis on transparency, and communication between the council and residents of Menifee. Neil Winter elected as the city of Menifee's new mayor after a successful grassroots campaign. Mayor Winter wants to put a strong emphasis on transparency, and communication between the council and residents of Menifee. Winter died Saturday evening after going into cardiac arrest. Shane Gibson photo.

"We have got to do a much better job of communicating all the actions that are done in the city," Winter said. "I want people to know about what we're doing. I don't want any more surprises. I want people to know that we are an open book here... We're a great city, but I want us to be known to be the best city."

Winter's excitement and pride in being mayor was visible during a recent interview.

"The City Council and staff are proud of what we have been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time and our continued focus on providing services that our residents, businesses and visitors find valuable," he said.

Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, along with city leaders throughout the region, took to social media upon hearing of Winter's death.

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I must report the passing of Mayor Neil Winter of the City of Menifee," Melendez posted on Facebook. "Cal Fire/RVCFD personnel responded to Mayor Winter's home and found him in full arrest. Prayers for his family during this time of tremendous loss."

Murrieta Councilman Randon Lane also shared his feelings on Facebook.

"I am saddened by the loss of a good man and a good public servant - May God be with Menifee Mayor Neil Winter and his family - May he Rest In Peace," Lane wrote.

The city of Menifee also issued the following statement.

"The City of Menifee is mourning the passing of beloved, and respected Honorable Mayor Neil

Winter, 65, passed away late Saturday evening (May 19, 2018)," the city wrote. In respect of the family, and as more details are released, the City of Menifee will be releasing a full statement in the coming days."

 

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