Monday Morning Thoughts: Early Thoughts on the Huge City Council Candidate Field

The last council on July 13, 2016

There are eight candidates thus far for the Davis City Council and more could soon emerge.  So far we have: Mary Jo Bryan, Dan Carson, Linda Deos, Eric Gudz, Larry Guenther, Gloria Partida, Luis Rios, and Mark West.

It has been awhile since we have had a field this large.  In 2004, there were eight candidates for three seats (this time there are only two seats).  At that time, Sue Greenwald finished first and Don Saylor and Stephen Souza very narrowly edged out Mike Harrington (an incumbent), and Stan Forbes after a last minute surprise stirred the pot.  Donna Lott finished sixth, and then Lamar Heystek finished seventh.  Two years later, Lamar Heystek would be elected to the city council.

There were also eight candidates in March of 2000.  Susie Boyd, Mike Harrington, and Sue Greenwald were elected in that race.  Finishing fourth was Tansey Thomas, who, I note with sadness, passed away last week.

For some time I have been expecting a big field of candidates to emerge.  What is a bit different this time around is that, while 2000 and 2004 (and before that 1996) were all three-seat races, this is only a two-seat race.  However, neither Robb Davis nor Rochelle Swanson will seek re-election, opening up those seats.

Here is my patently unfair and early analysis.  I’m not going to horse race it at this point, but I am going to make sweeping generalizations.

First of all, I like this field – I think it is very strong in a lot of ways.  They are an indication that the political lines that divided this community for years are really gone.  There are
candidates in this field who will support development, but there are no candidates that would be characterized as developer candidates.

There are candidates that I would call new progressives, but there is no one here that would be characterized as no growthers.  There are candidates here that have a narrow focus, but there are no candidates that I would characterize as being part of the political machines that for years governed this community and none that I would consider beholden to the special interests.

Whoever gets elected I would expect to do a good job and to serve the needs of the community as they see it.

In the past I have talked about the emergence of the new progressive wing in Davis.  Since last November, we have seen the rise in this new progressive movement and groups like the Yolo Progressives, the Berniecrats, Indivisible Yolo, along with the Phoenix Coalition and some of the groups that have emerged with the policing issue.

Unlike the 1970s progressive movement, this is not environmentally based, and it’s not land use based. Instead, it’s based around social justice and resistance to the Trump agenda.

The previous progressive movement was not originally associated with no-growth policies, but has become associated with them.  The coup de grâce was Measure J which passed in 2000 after a period of fairly rapid growth in the 1980s and 1990s, which brought about a resurgence in progressive politics in Davis.

To unfairly pigeon-hole the candidates, I would see Gloria Partida, Linda Deos and Eric Gudz as being part of this movement, with a heavy focus on social justice which extends to issues like affordable housing and the like.

There is also a solid contingent of fiscally-conscious candidates – Dan Carson on the Finance and Budget Commission and Mark West are clearly going to push for fiscal responsibility.

While Mary Jo Bryan has a long record of community service in Davis, her candidacy along with that of Larry Guenther may start out as more narrowly focused, addressing the fallout of specific developments.

And Luis Rios is a newcomer in this group – it will be interesting to see where he fits into the picture.

I am expecting with this dynamic field there to be some very interesting discussions, as this council will once again mark a critical crossroads in the future of Davis.  The issues of the Core Area Plan, homelessness, the downtown, housing – student and affordable among others, economic development, social justice including the police, and fiscal responsibility appear to be on the forefront of what figures to be a far more interesting race than the one two years ago.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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44 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Early Thoughts on the Huge City Council Candidate Field”

    1. Sean Raycraft

      Has Eric Gudz been involved in anything other than encouraging drug use?

      Well, where do I start? Eric has been involved with quite a bit. For starters, he’s dedicated his life to public service of one kind or another. He’s a former Eagle Scout, went into ROTC in college at Michigan Ann Arbor, was commissioned as a captain, served our country, in combat, for years, where at the age of 23 was building communities in Afghanistan, overseeing construction and maintenance of schools, roads, markets, etc. Then, he moved to a division dedicated to helping wounded soldiers re integrate into society, where he saw first hand the early effects of the opioid crisis of soldiers becoming addicted to pain killers (Which is largely why he got into drug harm reduction policy to begin with). I’m sure that if you bothered asking Eric about his service, instead of making Snyde remarks, he would tell you all about it. Eric really is a friendly, smart, professional, warm and capable person.

      When he came back to the states he got his masters in transportation policy at UCD, and has been active in local politics and campus advocacy efforts on behalf of students, bikers, really everyone. So yeah, I think that qualifies as being involved in more than “encouraging drug use” wouldn’t you say Jim Hoch?

  1. Jim Hoch

    So here is a snapshot of how our CC is “controlling costs”

    The average total comp, based on Transparent CA figures. They are increasing their take 10-25% per year, every year.

    2013 $16,126.71

    2014 $18,014.98

    2015 $20,051.62

    2016 $26,188.47

      1. Jim Hoch

        If they cannot manage the little CC budget how can they be trusted with a larger one? Especially since the little recent episode over raising the salary seemed to me to be an exercise in fraudulent political theater.

      2. Jim Hoch

        Leading by Example

        Making Sure You “Walk the Talk”

         

        Leading by Example – Making Sure You

        © Veer

        Greg Epperson

        Lead your people by example to success.

        There’s the boss who tells everyone to stay late, and then leaves promptly at 5:00pm to go golfing.

         

        There’s the supervisor who criticizes everyone for spending time on the Internet, but is discovered buying groceries online in the middle of the afternoon.

         

        And the CFO who recommends layoffs to stop “unnecessary spending,” but then buys herself brand-new luxury office furniture.

         

        Do you know any of these people?

         

        There’s hardly anything worse for company morale than leaders who practice the “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy. When this happens, you can almost see the loss of enthusiasm and goodwill among the staff. It’s like watching the air go out of a balloon – and cynicism and disappointment usually take its place.

         

        No matter what the situation is, double standards – witnessing people say one thing, and then doing another – always feel like betrayals. They can be very destructive. If this ever happened to you, you can probably remember that sense of disappointment and letdown.

         

        If you’re in a leadership position, then you know that you have a responsibility to your team. They look to you for guidance and strength; that’s part of what being a leader is. And a big part of your responsibility is to lead them with your own actions.

         

        So, why is it so important to lead by example; and what happens when you don’t?

      3. Howard P

        As for me, that is not where I’d look for cost savings… it IS WHERE I’d want disclosure and information published on the City website…

        I thought you fancied yourself as a transparency/disclosure kinda’ guy…

        To me, the availability of the City paid med/dental/life insurance is fair as to CC compensation… but it all, including the PERS pieces should be in open, public record.

    1. Howard P

      Jim and David… do you understand where most of that total comp. increase(s) come from?  Primarily the same PERS %-age contribution increases and medical coverage increases that many here want the employees to forgo/absorb.  Same-same.

      It’s not the money, it’s the “principal” (principle?) of the thing.

      Considering how opaque the full details of the CC compensation has been, and the continuing reluctance by the City and “reporters” to get the info out, I could easily see the CC “hold the line” as to total comp for all employees but 5.

      Thanks Jim for getting the “aggregated” costs into the light…

      1. Howard P

        Here’s what an intrepid reporter/watchdog would seek, then promulgate:

        CC salary
        City and CC members’ contribution to PERS
        What PERS plan are they on? (2.5% @55? 2% @ 60?)
        City contributions for CC med/dental/life insurance
        Are CC members allowed to “cash out” unused medical?
        Are they eligible for retiree medical?

        Am becoming convinced no one will do so (asking, and demanding answers to those items)…

        Certainly, not David…

        Might be a good litmus test for the candidates… “If elected, will you insist on, or divulge yourself, the total comp for CC members [itemized]?”

        1. Howard P

          That was a tad too cryptic for me… do you mean an outgoing CC member named Rochelle?

          Maybe Robb would do, as well…he is a pretty straight-forward and honest person, in my experience…

          Maybe they signed a no-disclosure agreement?

        2. Jim Hoch

          Howard;

          Not trying to be cryptic.

          “Jim and David… do you understand where most of that total comp. increase(s) come from? ”

          Rochelle is taking far more than anyone else though LF did increase his take 50% from year 1-2. If we backed out Rochelle’s bank it would change the overall numbers significantly.

          As a comparison I went to

          http://publicpay.ca.gov/
          And entered City Council members in municipalities from 50k-70K population.
          #4 in total comp is someone from our own Davis. They don’t give names but it’s seems obvious given the TC Data. I’m sure there is some social justice principle in there somewhere.

  2. Don Shor

    I would say city council compensation would be very low on my list of issues in assessing the candidates.

    So what policies would a candidate focusing on social justice issues seek to implement?

    1. Howard P

      All I ask for is disclosure… if the CC is looking at changing/reducing employee comp, where do they fit in?  Not about the money, it’s about the principle… I’d say that is a matter of social and civic ‘justice’, and goes to credibility…

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      Agreed Don. Of all the issues, this would seem to be inconsequential but not only that since the council just changed compensation, unimportant.

      1. Howard P

        ‘Changed’ compensation, or “increased compensation” for Fire and themselves (effective July 1 for CC )?

        Why are you so ‘deferrnt’?

        I guess compensation for City employees are no longer an issue for you… OK.

  3. Don Shor

    Housing

    Fiscal issues/revenue increases

    Growth issues

    Economic development

    Affordable housing policies

    Tenants’ rights

    Downtown planning

    Parking

    General plan update

    UC relations

    Cannabis dispensaries

    Nope, city council compensation isn’t even in my top 10.

     

    1. Howard P

      Credibility of CC on “fiscal issues” when they will be likely be looking for City employee compensation concessions, seems to be somewhere in # 2 of your ‘hit parade’.

      But clearly, not…

       

  4. Howard P

    Jim H… pretty clear neither David nor Don are interested in disclosure/transparency re:  CC compensation… my issue is not financial, but disclosure/transparency.

    I’ll write Robb… maybe I can ‘scoop’ David…

    1. Howard P

      Message sent…

      Robb’s auto-reply indicates he may not be able to respond for a week or so, but then he has two “day jobs” (CC and other), so I’m cool with that…

      If/when I get the response, I’ll share it first with the Emptyprise, and ask them to ‘mask it’ until publication date, so the VG gets zero credit.

    2. Robb Davis

      No need to write to me.  I requested this information and will get it out as soon as I can.  I have seen Jim asking for this for a few weeks but I have been pretty busy and just got around to asking for this last weekend when I had some time to catch up on emails.  There is no “non-disclosure” thing going on here.  This is public information.  As soon as I have all the details I will post them here.  Your patience is appreciated.

       

    3. David Greenwald Post author

      I want to be very clear here – I am not interested in this issue. I consider the council woefully under compensated. I think councilmembers should be paid a full time wage of $70,000 like their counterparts on the BOS with a full staff. The amount of money we are talking about here is a tiny amount and I’m far more concerned with the big picture. If someone wants to submit an article on it, I will publish it but I’m not going to spend any time on this.

      1. Howard P

        It is not about the COMPENSATION!  Are you so dense you have not seen that!  It is about disclosure/transparency and principles!… you had your chance, David… several times over months…

        Robb… already sent you an e-mail on this… I hope Robb gets back to me and the Emptyprize before he gives you the info… as you say,

        I want to be very clear here – I am not interested in this issue. 

        Others are…

        Thank you Robb for following up…

        1. Howard P

          Then, why, if it easily available (see my 9:24 post) have you not posted a link to it?  All I can find is the gross totals, not the breakdown and answers to my questions, which is available on the City website for all employees except CC, CM, & DH’s?

        2. Tia Will

          Howard

          “It is not about the COMPENSATION!  Are you so dense you have not seen that!  It is about disclosure/transparency and principles!”

          I think that it is about significantly more than that. I see this as a bit of unnecessary vindictiveness on your part especially coming after Robb has already stated that he intends to address it. The Vanguard is David’s project and as such he has the right to investigate/publish those items of interest to him… not to me..or to you, but to him. He has frequently stated that he will publish articles of interest to anyone if they will submit them. I see no reason to belittle him for an issue of import to you, but not to him. If your issue is really disclosure/transparency/principles, why not write it yourself and be assured publication in venue of your choice ?

           

    4. Don Shor

      pretty clear neither David nor Don are interested in disclosure/transparency re: CC compensation… my issue is not financial, but disclosure/transparency.

      No, Don just doesn’t think it’s worth 80%+ of the discussion of the council race. Nobody’s running for re-election, and I doubt any of the contenders are in it for the pay and benefits. It’s a side show. I really hope it doesn’t dominate the conversation on the Vanguard.
      I’ve listed some of my priorities. Is this really in your top ten?

      1. Howard P

        Who said 80%?  Certainly not me.  Given your list, you have it at less than 1%… I’d put it at 5%.  But will still ask the questions, by going to the source(s)! [oh, were you talking about today’s thread, or the CC race?]

        Enjoy the day…

        Oh, I have moved on… I agree with the bulk of your list for the candidates’ responses… just frustrated by over a year of “stone-walling” by the VG…

  5. Sharla C.

    Are you sure all of these people are running?  I only know of three – Gloria Partida, Luis Rios and Linda Deos – that have officially announced.   Let’s not talk about people until they actually announced to the community they are running, please.

    1. Howard P

      Actually, informally they have announced… have seen basically the same list from at least three different, disparate sources… if you’re talking about “formal announcements”, fine… you could go on step further… when they have actually ‘filed’ with the City Clerk… that’s what actually counts…

      You are not a candidate when you ‘announce’… you are a candidate when you file, and start your financial disclosures.  Have not seen any of them ‘jumping that bar’ yet… [some may have]

      But, I understand your point, and it has merit… since the actual filing period, with no incumbents running, extends the time for 3, 4, 8 more folk jumping into the fray…

  6. aaahirsch8

     

    Lets get real about what the city council can..and can not do….when we talk about “issues” and relative merit of these candidates:

    1. If the council race boils down largely a discussion of cost-control measures, I suggest the Tea party has won. Austerity.

    2. REAL ISSUE: Structural Fiscal problem of city is caused by lack of revenue vs peer cities……it was cause by..and will be solved by land use decisions (i.e. which control/tailor economic development).

    Sales Tax and property tax are land use driven.

    Affordable and affordable housing is land use/economics issues.

     

     

    Dave Greenwalds point out, there seem to be a mismatch between what most of candidate experience and interest are (Social Justice) and what the city REALLY does…..

    If they want to work on Social service (social justice) issues, I suggest they don’t understand government: these issue are addressed administratively and funded at the County and state level.

     

    So, if  I suggest this test:

    If a candidate wants to talk about stuff that city can’t do much about, I suggest either:

    a) they don’t have much real to offer,
    or
    b) they don’t know what the job is about.

     

    REAX?

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Tia Will

      Hi Alan

      As a member of three county health related boards and commissions, I disagree. What I have heard again and again is the statement that social services , in this case public health issues, are best addressed when the cities and county are working in alignment. This is critical especially when dealing with issues such as infectious disease, homelessness, & drug abuse but can affect all kinds of social issues such as teen self harm rates, early childhood care and education. Unfortunately, what I hear often is that this is not within the purview of the City Council when what is really needed is a comprehensive regional approach to public health issues.  Although I am not a believer in litmus tests, I will not be supporting a candidate who believes that the City Council does not have a health and wellness responsibility and who is not open to working with the county on these issues.

       

    2. Sean Raycraft

      Being an advocate for social justice and good governance at a municipal level are not mutually exclusive. There are many things the city can and should do (and does already) to foster social justice causes. For example, municipal governments have quite a bit of say as to how their police departments do their work in the community, which last time I checked, intersects neatly with social justice causes, does it not?

      I think you’re right about the land use decisions contributing to the revenue problems vs peer cities. I would also point out that in the age of Trump, social justice politics are good politics in a town like Davis.

      REAX? 🙂

  7. Cindy Pickett

    I’d like to echo Sean’s point that social justice and good governance can and should go hand in hand. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’ve posted below the policy statement of one particular organization that captures what a social justice perspective on city planning might look like. I would be happy to support a candidate with similar values.

    Policy Statement

    Social justice considerations should be central to all land use planning initiatives and be intentionally inclusive of all stakeholders. The effort to advance socially just land use planning should include:

    a. Fostering meaningful citizen engagement in transportation planning, policy, and project selection, giving citizens a voice in land use decisions. Meaningful citizen engagement should include the inclusion of marginalized groups, such as low-income people, youth, seniors, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals, underrepresented religious communities, ethnic and racial minority groups.

    b. Emphasizing land use connections with other community systems, such as food and transportation, and other lifeline services, in comprehensive plans.

    c. Directing growth towards existing urban centers to help maintain and increase their viability.

    d. Assuring that low-income residents continue to have choices about where they live while receiving adequate public services. Examining planning and zoning documents and development proposals to determine whether these support, as cited above, the need to promote “social and economic integration” of all races and income groups (AICP Code of Ethics) and to “expand choice and opportunity for all persons,” particularly the disadvantaged (APA Ethical Principles in Planning), and people with disabilities.

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