Ousted School Board Member: "I Feel Like Richard Nixon"

He was at the center of a controversy involving Nazi-themed posts online, but a residency issue ultimately led to Stephen Winkler's dismissal

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Southern California school board member discusses the board's decision to dismiss him after an issue regarding his residency. Stephen Winkler also addresses claims he is a Nazi sympathizer after the Tuesday June 18, 2013 Saugus Union School District board meeting. Courtesy: Signal Multimedia

    A Southern California school board member accused of being a Nazi sympathizer was removed from his seat on the board Tuesday night because he allegedly violated a rule that requires members to live within the school district.

    Former Saugus Union School Board member Stephen Winkler claimed to live in Valencia, but an investigation initiated by the school board determined he actually resided in a rented a room in Sylmar -- another community along the 5 Freeway located north of Los Angeles and 12 miles south of Valencia, outside the school district boundaries.

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    Parents and residents in Santa Clarita expressed their outrage over a school board member's alleged social media rants that included references to Nazism, segregation and cruelty to animals. Parents are considering recalling the Saugus school board member. Jane Yamamoto reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Friday, June 13, 2013.

    Winkler, 61, was asked to explain the residency issue during the meeting. His response marked one of several bizarre moments during the contentious meeting.

    "I go over there (Sylmar) and I got books and movies over there, and I  like to drink," he told the board. "So it's a safe place to drink and pass out."

    After the meeting, Winkler spoke with reporters at length about the board's decision and the accusations of Nazi sympathies during what he described as his "last press conference," one of several references to President Richard Nixon.

    "I don't have any bitterness. I would like to have stayed on the school board," Winkler said. "I feel like Richard Nixon did in 1962 when he lost to Gov. Pat Brown.

    "They're not going to have Winkler to kick around anymore."

    Winkler, his Facebook cover photo is an image of Nixon at a campiagn event, was referring to the 1962 race for California governor when incumbent Brown defeated Nixon. In his concession speech, which Nixon described as his "last press conference," he famously told reporters: "You won't have Nixon to kick around any more."

    Winkler's seat was declared vacant in a 4-1 vote, with Winkler being the lone "No" vote.

    The school board's investigation focused on whether Winkler resided at an address on Rio Prado Drive in Valencia or at the rented Sylmar property. Board members said there was "overwhelming" evidence that Winkler resides at the Sylmar location.

    Winkler also had been under fire for posts on social media sites, including a YouTube account in his name that "favorited" Nazi-themed videos. Winkler claims he does not have a YouTube account and that the posts occurred because his email account was hacked.

    "I am not a Nazi,'' he told reporters after the meeting. "I don't sympathize with any kind of Nazis."

    He did not confirm whether he plans to fight the school board's decision.

    "I believe they are good Americans, even though they believe I am not a good American," Winkler said. "I believe that they have good motives, even though they believe I do not have good motives. And, I'm going to take a long vacation."

    The district will conduct a special election to fill Winkler's seat.

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