The first possibility was that the votes at the polling place would simply mirror those of the absentee. A second possibility is that those who voted absentee are the always voters who are most likely to support schools and libraries. The final possiblity is that the voters on election day are more liberal than those who vote absentee.
The people at the County Election Office suggested that while absentee votes have moved closer to the average, they still tend to be more conservative and less supportive of tax measures. This turned out to be the right analysis. And slowly as the tallies came in, Measures P and Q pulled away. They ended up getting 79% of the vote on Election Day compared to just 66.6 to 66.7% of the absentee vote that arrived before election day.
During the last few months, we laid out the importance of these tax measures. Without Measure P, the library would have had to severely cut back on its hours and services. Without Measure Q, schools would have seen a lot of the key programs cut.
Some have suggested that we needed to send a message to the school district about a variety of issues. I tend to agree that there are a variety of issues that the new school board and the new superintendent need to address. However, this was not the way to do it. A no vote, would not have led to a reassessment and addressing of issues, it would have been met with widespread cuts, layoffs, and mass panic. Not the atmosphere to achieve the delicate reform that some wanted.
The Vanguard spoke to Board Members Sheila Allen and Gina Daleiden who were the coordinators for Measure Q.
Sheila Allen told us:
“I am extremely pleased that the community of Davis has once again come together to support our schools and children. When the task of the Parcel Tax renewal was given to Gina and I we decided to take a very different tact than previous campaigns. The prior strategy has always been a “stealth” campaign: keeping below the radar, talking only to parents and supports, no lawn signs or public campaign, etc. This is not the way Gina and I and the current board do business. We wanted to communicate to the community what it is they pay for with their parcel tax dollars and what they get in return. We were very pleased that an informed (although low turn out) agreed that Davis students need to continue to have the programs that Measure Q pays for in the classroom.”
Gina Daleiden said:
“I am heartened by the confirmation that the vast majority of people in Davis hold children and education as a top priority.
From the very beginning of the campaign, our biggest concerns were the economy and complacency. When headlines screamed of a weak economy, higher fuel prices, foreclosures, we knew we had to work harder. And we had to get the word out about what the tax actually funds—many of the critical programs that we all have come to expect as Davis Joint Unified. We had an amazing all-volunteer effort on this campaign—a broad coalition of people united in support of our schools.
We did have a little drama as we watched the early returns. While polling and phone banking and walking can show 78 or 80% support, that only translates into real votes if people turn out at the polls. In a very low turnout election like the one last night, the “no” votes will show up and the “yes” votes you need to dilute those don’t materialize to the extent you would like in a tax election. All that said, nearly 73% is a reminder that education is a priority in Davis, even for those without students in the schools. In the end, this is about our kids and our classroom programs across the entire District. Our kids are the winner in this election.”
In the meantime, the Measure P folks finally were able to pass their parcel tax to improve and maintain the library.
On Election night County Supervisor Helen Thomson told us:
“I’m glad to see the community cares about schools and libraries.”
County Supervisor Mariko Yamada added,
“I’m glad we minded our Ps and Qs!”
We also spoke yesterday to campaign manager of the Measure P effort, Rich Peterson:
“We are absolutely delighted at the outcome of the election. Once again, Davis has shown itself to be a truly giving and caring community. On behalf of Supervisors Thomson and Yamada, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to help Measure P pass, in particular Jay Johnstone, the Friends of the Davis Library led by Erik Vink, and Sandy Briggs – who walked precincts with a broken collar bone!! We truly are indebted to the hard work of countless dedicated individuals, named and unnamed. Above all else, we would like to thank the Davis voters.”
This election is just the first of four elections in the next 365 days. We will talk more about the school board races in upcoming installments.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting