Meet FORPD Board’s Newest Member: Raymond James Irwin

Fair Oaks, CA  |  Story by Shaunna Boyd
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Raymond James Irwin, the newest board member of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District, at Fair Oak’s annual Chicken Festival in Village Park. Photo provided by Raymond James Irwin.

FAIR OAKS, CA (MPG) - Rayond James Irwin is the newly elected member of the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District (FORPD) Board. At 27 years old, Irwin is one of the youngest people to be elected to the Board.

Irwin’s term on the Board will not be his first time in public service; he was appointed to the Fair Oaks Community Planning Advisory Council (CPAC) in 2016 by the Board of Supervisors. The CPAC is a planning commission that approves local projects, and Irwin believes his time on CPAC will help inform his decisions on the FORPD Board “because I have super local experience in government specifically for Fair Oaks and have seen projects that have come up that positively or negatively impact our community.”

Irwin was “born and raised in Fair Oaks” and described why he chose to run for election to the Board: “I’ve seen the community grow, develop, and change. I’ve used the parks many times in my life. I thought it was time to have a millennial voice on the board, to offer another voice that hadn’t been there before.”

Four people were running for two open seats on the board, but Irwin assumed that incumbent Ralph Carhart would be re-elected, so he viewed it as three people running for one seat: “It was something…I’m grateful to have been elected, especially considering I didn’t put out any signage or raise any money for the campaign. I just talked to people and put my information into the voters’ guide. I was just a presence in the community.”

Irwin said he is “excited, thrilled that Measure J passed.” He is looking forward to the good that the money can do in the community. He said, “Residents saw the need for that…They’ll be paying a little more, but putting so much into the community.” He is eager to see a rec center built, and for the updates to Village Park and Plaza Park. Irwin also wants to see the Fair Oaks Clubhouse—which is currently a 1930s mission-style building atop a steep hill—updated for better ADA compliance.

“I would also like to champion WiFi in the parks, which we could turn off at sunset to ensure it’s being used properly. Parents these days work very hard, and sometimes work very different hours. I don’t want them to miss their kids’ games because they have to work. I want them to be able to bring their laptop to the park so they can do both,” said Irwin.

Although Irwin wants to make sure the parks offer plenty of fun and recreation for families, he said the park district “needs to think of everyone. There are many single people without children living in Fair Oaks, and parks and recreation shouldn’t just be focused on kids and families. We have a lot of opportunities to create recreation opportunities for everyone.”

Irwin is also a local business owner. In October 2018, he opened Sacramento’s only champagne and bubbles bar—Fizz—which is located just across the walkway from the Golden 1 Center downtown. Irwin said, “It’s a great location. It’s been amazing, truly a blessing. It’s been going better than anticipated.”

“As the owner of a bar, it’s so joyous to see people get together to share a drink and spend time together. I would like to see events in the parks where people can bring food and wine and enjoy an evening out,” said Irwin. “I want the parks to create community through recreation. And offer options that can speak to a younger demographic.”

Irwin is a graduate of Jesuit High School. From there, he entered the conservatory to study opera. Irwin said he loves to sing and has performed in Italy, France, and Canada.  And although he enjoyed his time abroad, he wanted to come back home to the Sacramento area.

Using his talents to help the community, Irwin said, “I have given several concerts in the community where I have raised money for the Alzheimer’s association, WEAVE, Women’s Empowerment, St. Vincent De Paul Society, and Blue Line Arts.”

While getting his degree in opera, Irwin also minored in marketing, which he said enabled him to “speak both languages.” He worked for the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra overseeing the daily operations of their marketing communication. He initiated live tweeting during performances, which led to Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra trending both locally and nationally.

“From opera, to champagne, to politics—it’s been a wild ride. But I’ve just always followed my passions,” said Irwin. “I’m in this position [on the Board] because I want to serve….If the community has ideas or input about what they want to see in the parks, I want to hear from them.” Irwin urges anyone who wants