In our Monday Morning Thoughts, as we perused the large and growing field of candidates, we indicated the shift to what I have called “New Progressives” – candidates that have emphasized the need for social justice issues, but unlike the previously generation of progressives, would not be characterized as no-growthers.
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 of groups like the Yolo Progressives, the Berniecrats, and 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.
But some saw this as a mismatch between the interest in social justice and what the city really does. Others countered that advocating for social justice at a municipal level was not mutually exclusive with good governance.
This week, Eric Gudz formally announced his run for council and launched a website with a rather detailed platform that illustrates very clearly the nexus between social justice issues on the one hand and a reformist minded Davis-specific municipal policy on the other hand.
A lot of people miss the nexus, for example, between land use and smart growth principals and social justice issues. Eric Gudz’ platform captures this perfectly on the issues of housing, open space,
and renters’ rights.
On the housing crisis, he offers: “We can do more locally to meet the affordable housing needs of our community and provide better options to people of all backgrounds.”
On preserving neighborhood character and open space: “Davis’ ongoing commitment to responsible growth contributes greatly to our quality of life. Our development must remain community-driven and we must continue to invest in our neighborhoods, parks, and natural resources.”
On protecting the rights of tenants: “More than half of our residents rent; we need to prioritize their needs and address issues that have been plaguing this underserved population for decades.”
Eric Gudz also draws on the need to address revenue and economic development issues.
First he looks at roadway revitalization: “We need to update our infrastructure using cost-saving measures and continue leading the world by pioneering enhanced safety for our community’s bikeways.”
Second, on transit: “We will reaffirm our community commitment to public transportation.”
Third on innovation: “Incubating our Talented Populace. We must invigorate our startup spaces, empower our young entrepreneurs towards success, and remove the barriers to 21st century innovation – especially those facing individuals and groups with fewer resources.”
Finally he addresses key social justice issues:
Police Reform: “We must work with the entire community to design and institutionalize robust, independent citizen oversight of our community’s policing.”
Community Resources: “Our community needs to re-invest and modernize. We will develop community spaces for our most underserved and community broadband to give our students, businesses, and consumers the tools they need to excel in a digital world.”
Environmental Stewardship: “We will take bolder steps towards the protection of our natural environment and ensure that it remains a cornerstone in every policy of our community.”
This isn’t detailed policy analysis. These are still “soundbites,” if you will. But here he lays out a nine-point vision for Davis that takes a variety of current issues that we know, recognize and in some cases have discussed for years, and situates them within a social justice framework.
This isn’t a national agenda re-purposed locally – this is a local, municipal, Davis agenda that is informed by social justice concerns. This is the direction of the New Progressive Movement.
The changes are subtle, but, clearly, while he wants to preserve “Davis’ commitment to responsible growth,” he also recognizes that we need to “do more locally to meet the affordable housing needs of our community and provide better options to people of all backgrounds.”
This certainly represents a shift from current policies toward policies that will address the housing crisis, including providing better options to people of all backgrounds.
Mr. Gudz at this point has not come out in favor of rent control, but his plank on the protection of the rights of tenants definitely lays the groundwork for such a move at a later point.
This shouldn’t be read as any sort of endorsement of Mr. Gudz or his policies. Rather it illustrates what I think is a new direction in Davis politics, more informed by social justice concerns, but, as you can see, not radically different from current thinking.
However, I would argue that the the combination of core issues like the housing crisis and renters’ rights, combined with innovation and the need to revitalize our infrastructure, and finally the need for police reform and environmental stewardship, captures in essence the link between movement progressivism with local issues of import.
This platform represents a perfect illustration of molding the last ten years of local reform with the call for social justice and new progressivism.
While Mr. Gudz might be most strongly associated with his work on cannabis, he was one of the co-authors of the most recent UC Davis Travel Study. He was also one of the protesters in front of the courthouse asking for the charges to be dropped against the Picnic Day 5.
This figures to be a different sort of campaign with a whole host of candidates that figure to push Davis in a new direction – and perhaps not so radically as you might think.
—David M. Greenwald reporting
Come see the Vanguard Event – “In Search of Gideon” – which highlights some of the key work performed by the Yolo County Public Defender’s Office…