Monday Morning Thoughts: Battle Over Gibson House Leads to Electoral Challenge to Matt Rexroad

In 2006, Matt Rexroad won a heavily contested race against Frank Sieferman and then has run unopposed in 2010 and 2014.  But not in 2018.

A contentious issue over who should run the historic Gibson House has boiled over into the Yolo County Supervisors race, after the board in December 2017 handed over management of the historic home to YoloArts, a nonprofit in need of expanded space.

That vote was unanimous but made over the objections of longtime Gibson House volunteers and board members including board treasurer Jenny Stallard Lillge, who is the daughter of two prominent Woodland politicians – Tom Stallard, a councilmember in Woodland, himself a former Yolo County Supervisor, and Meg Stallard, who has been in the past elected to the county Board of Education and the Woodland School Board.

Ms. Lillge has led efforts to reverse the decision by collecting 4000 or more signatures in an online petition.

And on February 7, Meg Stallard filed candidacy papers to challenge Mr. Rexroad.

The Daily Democrat reported in late January: “Current plans suggest YoloArts would take over some of the indoor space for the purpose of a gallery. Outer buildings and greenhouses could be used for art camps or classes. Meanwhile, the YCHM [Yolo County Historical Museum] would still display and curate artifacts indoors, but would do so on a more limited basis. Hopefully, the museum would see more opportunities to monetize with increased traffic.”

The paper reports that the change has many volunteers, donors and employees of the museum voicing their disapproval. For instance they cite YCHM Executive Director James Glica-Hernandez who told the paper “he plans to resign after the merge, and expects to hold that exit door open for others.”

“They’re leaving because they don’t want to be a part of it,” he said.

Supervisor Matt Rexroad, whose district oversees the Gibson House, countered that “the YCHM staff had ample time to come up with their own proposals. Moreover, talks about the Gibson House began in February of last year, and supervisors pushed back the decision upon the request of the YCHM. As the year came to a close, the decision needed to land abruptly.

“They knew about this request for proposals before three of the board members,” Supervisor Rexroad told the Democrat.

In the meantime, Mr. Rexroad has fired back, posting a YouTube video which explains in some detail his view of the failures of the current Gibson House management as the reason why he believes that YoloArts should take over.

A big question will be can such a parochial but nevertheless heated issue lead to the defeat of such a longtime politician in Yolo County?

Stay tuned.

—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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One thought on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Battle Over Gibson House Leads to Electoral Challenge to Matt Rexroad”

  1. Tia Will

    A few questions based on issues raised by the article:

    Moreover, talks about the Gibson House began in February of last year, and supervisors pushed back the decision upon the request of the YCHM. As the year came to a close, the decision needed to land abruptly.”

    What was the limiting factor that made “the decision needed to land abruptly” ?

    2. Has there been a funding change for the Gibson House in particular or historical preservation more broadly that would necessitate the need for more “monetization”?  Is “monetization” being used as a euphemism for “privatization”. Genuine question as I know nothing about the involved organizations or their funding. Would this change involve more or higher admission fees for example ?  If so, who would decide the use of the additional funds ? If YoloArts, would a certain amount/percentage be dedicated to historic preservation ?

    3. Is there  any guarantee that YoloArts would continue the preservation of historic artifacts even if the current members of the YCHM staff choose not to participate ?

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