Final Analysis: Things That We Learned This Weekend About the Campaigns


Tomorrow it will all be over.  This was the final weekend of the campaign.  Countywide they are predicted about a 45% voter turnout, which suggests that we will see 50 to 55% in the city of Davis.   The predicted turnout is better than the last city council election in 2008, but a far cry from some of the years with huge turnout.

Given the magnitude of the issues facing the city of Davis, it is unfortunate that the city has not been more engaged in this campaign.  Some of that may be due to the lack of coverage, some from the lack of clear differences in the candidates in terms of what is publicly said, some may simply be a matter that a lot of voters are disconcerted with the situation that appears overwhelmingly bad.

As we head out of the last weekend, towards election day, we have still learned a few things here and there about the candidates.

Council Majority Supports Sydney Vergis

One thing that is now completely clear is that the council majority of Don Saylor, Stephen Souza, and Ruth Asmundson believe that the best candidate to continue their policies is Sydney Vergis.  If you like their policies, that’s a positive.  If you do not like their policies, that is a negative.

Each of them has endorsed multiple candidates, Don Saylor has endorsed all three of the major candidates, Stephen Souza has endorsed Joe Krovoza and Sydney Vergis and Ruth Asmundson has endorsed Rochelle Swanson and Sydney Vergis.

That may be who they’ve endorsed, but it is now clear that Sydney Vergis is their candidate.  In Sunday’s Davis Enterprise both Souza and Saylor co-signed a letter supporting on Sydney Vergis.  Previously Ruth Asmundson not only participated in an independent expenditure but she had a joint letter to the editor favoring, again, only Sydney Vergis.

Despite the fact that both Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson have support across the board, the lines have become increasingly clear.  Sue Greenwald, Lamar Heystek, Bill Kopper, Mike Harrington, Jim Provenza have all backed Rochelle Swanson.  Sue Greenwald, Jim Provenza, and Bill Kopper have all backed Joe Krovoza.

Newspaper Endorsements

In terms of newspaper endorsements it was a clean sweep for Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson.  What do newspaper endorsements mean in an election like this?  Not a darn thing, but they are something that you can put in your literature and in your campaign ads.  Naturally both Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson feature the endorsements prominently in their campaign ads that ran on Sunday as well as their literature.

Not to be outdone however, Sydney Vergis includes a quote from the Davis Enterprise endorsement in 2008: “Sydney deserves a chance…  We’re impressed by her intelligence, her professional background as a land-use planner, her understanding of the issue and her creative ideas.  She’s young, she has a sense of humor and she practices what she preaches…  She’s ready to tackle the tough issues that come before the Davis City Council.  We believe she deserves the chance.”


Sounds good, but the problem is that it’s from the 2008 Davis Enterprise Endorsement, not 2010.  And while it is so labeled on both her literature and her ads, the problem is that the Enterprise did not endorse her this year, so obviously they do not believe anymore that “she deserves the chance.”  Instead they believe that Rochelle Swanson and Joe Krovoza do.

Is it dishonest to quote something from 2008, acknowledging that it is from 2008?  I don’t know.  But it is a bit odd.  Why not get a quote from one of her many prominent endorsers who are supporting in her in 2010?  It is not like she has a shortage of those.  Don Saylor had a couple of good statements about her, that would certainly be better than a 2008 quote from the Enterprise that is questionable in terms of whether they still believe it.


This has been a pretty clean campaign, not last second independent expenditures, push polls, no pizza-gate, no letter to the editor calling a candidate a misogynist, etc.  The one real issue has been the persistence of attacks on Rochelle Swanson for having the audacity to at one point in time being a Republican and apparently voting for John McCain last time. 

What is odd is that in 2002, Jan Bridge and Ruth Asmundson both supported Republican John Munn for Assembly against Lois Wolk, the Democrat.  And they are prominent figures in the Sydney Vergis campaign.

Apparently the latest rumor is that I am the one who invented the entire controversy and posted the attacks on Rochelle Swanson claiming that she had a Palin Sticker on her car.  Nevermind that I have heard directly from at least five witnesses that heard Marty West attack Rochelle Swanson for her alleged allegiance to a certain ex-Alaska Governor.  I do not think that is something I would have come up with, if I were trying to make something up to damage Sydney Vergis’ chances.  The truth is always a better approach.

Then again, Sydney Vergis in writing dismissed the flap about the Independent Expenditure as a “contrived” controversy.  Nevermind that the City Clerk’s office agreed with our complaint.  Nevermind that neither the Mayor of Davis nor an esteemed law professor apparently knew the municipal code or bothered to look it up to make sure they were following it.  Nevermind that it looks bad for Ruth Asmundson to be involved in an IE where her daughter was the campaign treasurer, but apparently is no more.  And nevermind the fact that we have $100 contribution limits, that apparently Marty West and Ruth Asmundson do not believe in as they both contributed $550, five-and-a-half times the legal limit.

Perhaps Sydney Vergis should have spent less time complaining about contrived controversies and more time raising her own money, as apparently she only raised $300 in the last filing period and less than $6000 for this calendar year, falling well behind her opponents.

I suppose I am also behind Lyle Smith’s letter to the editor yesterday that accused Rochelle Swanson of changing her registration for political purposes immediately before the campaign began.

For the life of me, I do not understand why the editor of the Davis Enterprise would publish a piece like that, which is an attack piece.  She claims to have a policy against such attacks, but seems to conveniently forget that policy at times.  What makes it odd is that the Enterprise is not endorsing Sydney Vergis.

But more importantly there are two key factors.  First, the fairness issue.  If you publish an attack, should it not be before the last real day to have a response?  If you publish an attack, what obligation is there for the newspaper to act as fact checker?

Do I think it is going to matter?  No.  I think most people have probably made up their own minds at this point, particularly those who would read the editorial page of the Davis Enterprise the Sunday before the election.  I think most people will decide who to vote for based primarily on local issues.  Still I would prefer to see a cleaner ending to a campaign.

As I wrote yesterday, despite all of the perceptions out there, no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow.  We do not know who will vote and for whom.  Sydney Vergis may be trailing on a number of levels, but she did come into the race with more name recognition than anyone else and in a low-information, low-interest, low-turnout election that could be enough to win.

Those who are taking for granted that Measure R will pass, might want to consider that as well.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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.

Related posts


  1. davisite2

    “I suppose I am also behind Lyle Smith’s letter to the editor”

    Wasn’t Lyle Smith(and someone please correct me if my recollection is wrong here) a strong and active volunteer worker with the NO on X campaign in 2004, while also striving to carve out a career as a Democratic political operative? Interesting that he is now writing letters to the editor that attempt to help Vergis, the Democratic party machine candidate, in spite of her Covell Village history and that of her backers. It is clear that Sydney Vergis’ “support” endorsements by the local party machine elected officials are cynically grounded not in qualifications but the long-standing party machine credo of quid per quo support backed by the controlling “deep pockets” of the behind-the-scenes special interests.

  2. Avatar

    Final analysis ,

    Let me and my blog badmouth a candidate the day before the election , how self serving of a person who always signs off ,David M. Greenwald Reporting .

  3. Spruce

    The pro-Vergis “Developer Democrats” seem to have been very busy in this Election season to try to do harm to Rochelle Swanson’s campaign for City Council to get Sydney Vergis elected. But the good news is that none of it seems to be working. In fact it seems to be losing votes for Sydney Vergis.

    First, the despicable “whisper campaign” against Rochelle with deliberate misinformation such as a “Palin sticker on her Lincoln car”. This disinformation was apparently invented and disseminated by Jan Bridge who supports Sydney Vergis. There was never a Lincoln car owned by Rochelle and never a Palin sticker displayed by Rochelle. However we DO learn today that Jan Bridge together with Ruth Asmundson (who was also a Republican at one time) endorsed Republican John Munn. All of this in the name of trying to do harm to Rochelle’s name and campaign to try to help bolster Sydney’s ailing campaign. Bridge and Asmundson need to learn that being hypocrites and trying to trash another candidate who is better then theirs is not a good way to try to win an election in this town.

    Then there was “IE-gate” (Independent Expenditure-gate) where Marty West and Ruth Asmundson arrogantly violated our Municipal Code to try to help Sydney Vergis’ campaign. After years of working on campaigns apparently neither seem to think that they needed to follow the rules that everyone else needs to in order to do an independent expenditure to try to pour more money into Vergis’ struggling campaign.

    Then the desperate pro-Vergis group tried ugly personal and untrue rumors against Rochelle. And that didn’t work. In fact, it angered everyone who heard these mean-spirited rumors.

    Now a last minute endorsement letter for Vergis by some of our local “Developer Democrats” that apparently had no business using Davis Democratic Club titles and since the local club did not endorse Vergis. Also, another known Democrat politico writes a last minute “hit piece” letter with untrue information as well. These accusations have been tried before, responded to by Rochelle Swanson clarifying that they are untrue, yet the desperate pro-Vergis “Developer Democrat” cabal continue their bad “strategy”. They are trying to make this a partisan race, which it is not.

    All I can say is all these “pro-Vergis” entities have accomplished nothing but done harm to Sydney Vergis’ campaign and angered a lot of people who have seen and heard about their nasty campaign tactics.

    My response is I am disgusted with their actions. I am voting for Rochelle Swanson and encourage everyone else to. The fact that she has stayed positive and has not countered with vitriolic responses is a testimony of why we want her on City Council.

  4. Anne

    There is no room for negative campaigning in Davis. Thank you for keeping us posted on the various campaigns David. I helped out on No on X and have friends that did a lot more work and Lyle was not involved in that campaign.

  5. Matthew Allen

    “Final analysis ,Let me and my blog badmouth a candidate the day before the election , how self serving of a person who always signs off ,David M. Greenwald Reporting .”

    So says the person whose only stated reason for supporting Vergis is that she’s “hot”

  6. davisite2

    “I helped out on No on X and have friends that did a lot more work and Lyle was not involved in that campaign.”

    Anne… I was also very much “involved” in the NO on X campaign. I thought that I remembered Lyle being involved in developing Davis residential address voting history spread sheets for us to use in our door-to-door efforts. I have been involved in not-a-few local campaigns so I might have his involvement confused with another campaign. In any event, the campaign would have had a populist, anti-Yolo Democratic political-machine character which Lyle appears to have abandoned in favor now of being a Yolo Democraitc political-machine operative.

  7. Rich Rifkin

    My prediction for the election:

    CITY COUNCIL: 1. Krovoza; 2. Swanson; 3. Vergis; 4. Li; and 5. Watts. (I have a cup of coffee bet with Don Shor as to whether Swanson or Vergis wins. I bet on Vergis, but I no longer think she will pull it out.)

    MEASURE Q — sales tax — Yes 60%; No 40%.
    MEASURE R — ag lands vote — Yes 72.2%; No 27.8%.

    GUARDIAN: 1. Sylvia; 2. Barber.

    GOVERNOR: 1. Whitman; 2. Poizner.
    SENATOR: 1. Fiorina; 2. Campbell.

    GOVERNOR: 1. Brown; 2. Mickey Mouse.
    SENATOR: 1. Boxer; 2. Mickey Kaus.

    PROP 13 — seismic retrofits. Yes 72%; No 28%.
    PROP 14 — open primaries. No 52%; Yes 48%.
    PROP 15 — public financing. No 55%; Yes 45%.
    PROP 16 — municipal utility districts. Yes 57%; No 43%.
    PROP 17 — auto insurance. No 56%; Yes 44%.

  8. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”I have been involved in not-a-few local campaigns so I might have his involvement confused with another campaign. In any event, the campaign would have had a populist, anti-Yolo Democratic political-machine character which Lyle appears to have abandoned in favor now of being a Yolo Democraitc political-machine operative.”[/i]

    Given that you are attacking Mr. Smith by name, here, you should post your own to that attack, Davisite.

    As it happens, I looked up everything I could find in the Enterprise regarding Mr. Smith, and his name was not associated in any way with the Measure X campaign. (That does not mean he did not work behind the scenes. I don’t know.)

    Primarily, he seems to be active with the Davis Democratic Club and the Central Committee for the Yolo County Democratic Party. He also was Bob Schelen’s campaign manager in Bob’s failed bid for the school board.

    [i]”I do not understand why the editor of the Davis Enterprise would publish a piece like that, which is an attack piece.”[/i]

    I think it is best to publish letters like that and let the readers decide for themselves if the argument makes any sense. When Smith wrote, “Swanson supported Republicans who oppose health care reform, environmental regulation, a woman’s right to choose, financial reform of the U.S. financial system and abstinence-only sexual education,” all issues that have nothing to do with the Davis City Council, I think he revealed the vacuousness of his mentality.

    However, he signed his name to it. It’s what he believes. And if there are voters who were undecided and they swing to Vergis for that kind of puerile pablum, then the people of Davis are not as smart as I supposed.

  9. Jeff Shaw

    Tune into live election night coverage with all of the candidates and more on DCTV cable channel 15, on the radio at 95.7 fm KDRT, and online at (click listen now).

    Starts at 8pm, right after the polls close.

    And if you like what Davis Media Access does, please consider donating. We have less than a month to raise $5,000. Go to to donate.

  10. JustSaying

    David: Great job covering this year’s Davis election. The Vanguard turned out to be a major source of election info.

    I’m disappointed that the Enterprise (with the exception of Bob Dunning) seemed to limit its coverage to an interview with each candidate and minimum reporting on forums. Printing extensive letters to the editor–and all the advertisements for which candidates would pay–doesn’t serve the community the way a local paper should. Reporters could have followed up on claims, charges, etc. that appeared over the weeks in Dunning’s column, reader letters, advertisements and public records. Most local papers see local elections as an opportunity to shine, to provide a real public service. The Enterprise must have seen this election as a big yawn.

    Rich: Are you absolutely positive about those percentage numbers!? How long will we will keep voting to support expensive, misleading campaigns for state propositions?

  11. davisite2

    ….That does not mean he did not work behind the scenes. I don’t know. (That does not mean he did not work behind the scenes. I don’t know.)

    So… since you admit that you don’t know, what’s your point? I can assure you that Lyle Smith and I were on the street together doing door-to-door canvassing. It may not have been the Measure X campaign(although that campaign comes most readily to mind) but whichever it was, he was, at the time, expressing strong populist anti- political Establishment, anti-Yolo Democratic political-machine beliefs. I will remain Davisite2, thank you very much, and am quite comfortable to let this moniker’s credibility rest with the Vanguard readers’judgement.

  12. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”Rich: Are you absolutely positive about those percentage numbers!?”[/i]

    Just, no, I’m not sure. I have not looked at any opinion polls, either. However, normally, the way I vote in state props is the losing end most of the time. I voted Yes on 13. Otherwise, I voted what I am guessing will be the losing side on all the rest.

  13. David Suder

    I live within 100 yards of Rochelle Swanson, and have seen every vehicle that has regularly parked in front of her home.

    For the record, I do not recall ever seeing a “Palin 2012” sticker on any vehicle there. That is something I would have noticed – and not in a good way.

  14. Rich Rifkin

    [i]”I do not recall ever seeing a “Palin 2012” sticker on any vehicle there.”[/i]

    How about a Stonegate Lake cat named 2012 on Palin?


  15. Maggie Mae

    Thanks for this great article David since it has helped me decide that I will be voting for Rochelle Swanson. I also read in an email I got today that Rochelle is the only candidate that voted for Measure J and against Measure X, so she stands out to me for this reason and many other reasons. She is a long time Davis resident, raised her children here and has been active in the community. She sure seems to be high energy and ready to hit the ground running to deal with the many problems Davis is facing.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for