Key provisions of that resolution include:
“The commitment of the nation’s resources to any type of military action in Iran will impede our ability to address local domestic issues and needs such as education, health care, transportation, housing, human services, environmental protection, water supply, flood control, emergency services and all other necessary purposes of our shared public governance…
Any expenditure of our nation’s military might is made and felt most strongly by the men and women in uniform and their families. These individuals live in communities across the nation just like Davis, but no evidence has been shown and no straight line of clear and meaningful justification has been presented to the public that warrants putting in danger the lives and limbs of the children of Davis in any type of military action in Iran.”
In stark contrast to such previous resolutions, there was little public comment either way and no opposition.
Mayor Sue Greenwald who has supported a number of these initiatives, at times being the only voice, stated:
“I’m so happy that we’re united in this action on the council tonight, I think to my knowledge as I was paying attention at the time, I was the only elected to come out against the war in Iraq, there was a lot of anger directed at me for that… I felt very attacked at the time, now I feel there is a lot of support. It’s a lot easier now and I think that’s a good thing. It shows where the nation is. I do like to remind people what I told them at the time when I had to defend my position and when people said that city council people should be focused on potholes and not on foreign policy, that there is a long tradition in the United States of city councils and town councils passing resolutions against war.”
Councilmember Lamar Heystek urged a unanimous vote against such actions by the US Government:
“I too stand in support of this resolution, it takes city councils to be able to make statements on issues of national and international importance. One issue that comes to mind is the issue of climate change. It has been because of inaction of various Bush administrations of the present and the past that we have not seen meaningful action on climate change. It has taken mayors and city councils across this country to be able to act on this issue of not only local, not only state, but national and global importance. So I don’t take my role lightly as a member of this council on such issues. This issue is a city issue, for every billion or every trillion dollars that goes abroad to fight misguided wars, that is making it tougher for local and state governments to be able to serve its people to the best of their ability. And I as a council member will not stand and allow our federal government to make it more difficult for us as elected officials of this city to be able to serve you more effectively, to say that our issue, our bailiwick lies strictly in potholes or roads or streets, I think that’s selling ourselves short.”
Councilmember Don Saylor also came down in support, explaining his divergence from past policy choices:
“I’ve been very stingy in having my role as councilmember be to speak on issues of international policy. The primary reason for that is that’s not the reason that people elected people to serve on the council. Our city services our municipal services are more than potholes. They are water, sewer, public safety, publics and recreation. They are all of the municipal services that they provide. The time that spend in areas that we don’t have staff expertise in, is time that we sometimes are not able to spend on things that we need to on behalf of our residents. So typically I have been very stingy in voting on resolutions that address international policy.
In this case, I’m going to vote in favor of it, the reason is that you’ll see the third and fourth paragraphs of this resolution as crafted are very specifically addressing the impact of the potential action. That has been threatened on our community. And those impacts have something to do with health care, transportation, education, housing, human services, environmental protection, water supply, flood control, emergency services, and all necessary purposes of our shared governance. To devote resources in what appears to be totally frivolous military action that has been discussed at the national level would not be appropriate. It would hurt us. And the most important thing is that there is no straight line of clear and meaningful justification that warrants endangering the lives and limbs of the children of Davis.
And this is the at a time when this has not taken place. We don’t have people engaged. Now is the time for us to act in expressing our opinion not after we’re engaged, and we have much more divided opinion. Within our community, I believe that this action is consistent with the opinion of the majority of the folks in town. We don’t want to engage in this kind of a conflict. So for those reasons, I’m going to depart from the pattern that I have typically followed, but the reason is now’s the time to do this and those are the reasons.”
The entire atmosphere is in marked contrast to the scene two years ago, almost to the date on January 10, 2006 when the council deliberated whether to pass a resolution for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
As the Davis Enterprise describes on January 11, 2006:
“Tuesday night’s Davis City Council meeting was more emotional than most, with tears spilled, hearty applause and passionate speeches on both sides of a war-resolution debate.
Brought to the council before the winter break, two resolutions calling for an orderly but swift withdrawal of American troops from Iraq met with resistance from military families back in December.
At Tuesday’s meeting, 32 people spoke in favor of such a resolution and dozens more sat in the standing-room-only Community Chambers waving “Bring Home the Troops” signs.
The resolution passed, but not without some difficulty. Councilman Ted Puntillo voted against the resolution, Councilman Don Saylor abstained and Mayor Ruth Asmundson publicly wobbled on the fence between abstention and approval before finally tipping in favor.
Prior to the vote, 42 people queued to speak, some angry and some fighting tears. “
At that time, Councilmember Saylor issued a lengthy statement where he stated that this was not in the province of a city council and he abstained from voting on the resolution.
“I believe that my personal views on this federal policy are not the most important criteria for my actions as a Davis City Councilmember elected to make policy and govern the city in the best interest of all of its residents…
Our community is not united in its views on this war. There must be room for all of us in our decision making and in our conversation. When we applaud the statements of one with large, rank, loud applause, and do not allow others that same privilege—even if we don’t belittle their words, we are still making it very difficult for them to speak up.
As a school board trustee and now a member of the city council, I’m very stingy about what state and federal matters I feel it is appropriate for me as one councilmember to address. Each of us have a different understanding, unique to ourselves about why we act and how we carry out our roles. I happen to feel that it is very appropriate to be careful in what state and federal policy matters we take forward. For the past ten years as an elected official in Davis, I’ve applied the same criteria to every state and federal issue we have considered. I do always act what direct connection there is not just to this community but to my responsibilities as an elected official, elected to serve as a city council member…
It’s not a perfect test it may seem subjective, but it has given me personally a disciplined approach to the consideration of very symbolic issues. Each of us must sort out our conscience on matters of this sort… I can’t in good conscience vote against this resolution that contains much language that I myself agree with. However, I also can’t vote in favor of the resolution that I believe should not be acted upon by this council. Sure we have the legal right to do it, I just think it’s not appropriate to do it. I don’t see a substantial or sufficient direct connection between the intention and specific language in this resolution and my responsibility as a councilmember representing our entire community to support a yes vote, and I can’t vote no. So I’m going to abstain from voting on this matter.”
There was no such consternation this time by either Mayor Pro Tem Asmundson or Councilmember Saylor. There was no public opposition to the resolution either.
The unanimous vote will be personally delivered to Washington and our legislators in Washington by representatives from the Davis Teach Peace organization that is dedicated to bringing about peace and the end of the current hostilities in Iraq.
The Davis city council has issued forth a strong but inherently symbolic stance against expanding hostilities to neighboring Iran. Hopefully the direction of our nation’s foreign policy changes, and we no longer need such resolutions in the future.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting