And Then There Were Ten: Ten Candidates For the City Council Vacancy

Vote-stock-slideThere is a little bit of everything for all people in the ten candidates for the Davis City Council.  Actually, there were two things missing, no one who had served on the Council previously applied, and to our knowledge no one who had run for the Council previously applied.

The most recognizable name in the group of ten is Dan Wolk, the son of Senator Lois Wolk.  But for those looking for new blood and unfamiliar faces, this group will not disappoint.  At the end of last week, Mr. Wolk became the fifth candidate.  Those numbers have now doubled to ten, assuaging fears of a small field.

As mentioned, it is now a very diverse field.  Sherelene Harrison brings to the council background as business person who has been a Board member of the Davis Chamber of Commerce.  She writes in her statement, “As a successful small business owner in Davis, I understand the needs and challenges employers deal with everyday. Having the opportunity and responsibility to analyze problems affecting the overall stability of the business is a challenge. This is an ever changing process and requires realistic analysis and solutions.”

She sees growth as the number one issue, “because it involves population, demographics, affordable housing, water availability, shopping choices (both grocery and retail), and reasonable taxes. Each of these issues provides a platform for reform.”

She continues, “Whether one is no growth or pro growth, the issue remains: people want to live in Davis.  Parents want their children to live here as adults. That being said, how do we bring job opportunities and affordable housing for this group? The recent acceptance of Mori Seiki to locate in Davis is one example. Bringing businesses to Davis will add dollars to the general fund and additional jobs for our residents. This should encourage increased spending and add revenue from tax dollars.”

She also speaks to sustainability, both economic and environmental.  While she looks to budget reviews, she never mentions pensions or unfunded liabilities, but does write, “Making cuts first from safety departments and education should be avoided.”

Kerry Loux is a landscape architect with thirty years as a licensed practitioner in California, having graduated from UC Davis in Environmental Planning.  She writes, “I believe I can further Davis’s role as a leader in sustainability, environmental stewardship and economic stability in California, the nation and internationally.”

She goes on to say, “I do not apply for this position with a set agenda or campaign ‘platform’ but offer a commitment to listen, analyze, and make decisions based on my environmental, planning and business background.”

She endorses six goals already in place including fiscal stability, economic development, sustainability, Downtown Davis, Community Strength and Effectiveness, and infrastructure.

On the fiscal issue she writes, “Fiscal responsibility is a major issue. Of immediate importance is addressing Davis’ intended approach to our banked Redevelopment funds which may be lost under the proposed state budget.  Avoiding rash decisions. Council must thoughtfully weigh options and act appropriately. Among longer term priorities are reducing the City’s unfunded liabilities, addressing slow real estate market, and maintaining crucial municipal infrastructure. I have the skills and acumen to address these challenges, but must acknowledge that I need significant study to become fully fluent in these complex issues.”

Linda Parfitt is a 30-year resident of Davis who works in Sacramento at the California Department of Education in the Child Development Division Policy office.

She describes her work, “I currently monitor 58 Local Child Care and Development Planning Councils (LPCs) in every county in California. The LPC members are jointly appointed by the Board of Supervisors and the County Superintendent of Schools. They must abide by the Brown Act and hold public hearings to identify funding priorities for Title 5, child development programs throughout the state. They collect and analyze vast amounts of data using GIS [Geographic Information System] mapping to identity areas of needs and resources. Produce child development needs assessments and strategic action plans.”

She writes, “Over the last 30 years we have seen Davis grow and change in many positive ways. It still maintains the qualities of a “small town” we were looking for as an ideal place to live.”

She adds, “I believe in a ‘government for the people, by the people.’ I actively listen to both the pros and cons of every argument and seek to find a middle ground. I am an effective facilitator, even in difficult circumstances. I believe in the importance of developing long range relationships over time so people know I can be trusted and I follow through with the commitments I make.”

On the issues she writes, “I believe in smart, self-sustainable growth objectives. This requires a long range vision for the community as a whole. Davis has a number of excellent examples of smart growth policies: a focus on solar energy, joint use facilities, many parks and natural wildlife areas, a world class university, co-located schools, parks and child care centers, a small town downtown with many restaurants and musical venues, bicycle paths, a low crime rate and excellent public services.”

On the budget, she writes, “The city needs to be more fiscally self-sufficient, by attracting more good clean and green jobs for residents to expand the tax base for the city.”

She adds, “Everyone needs to find cost-savings wherever possible. and deal effectively with unfunded, long term liabilities. This means working with members of the Finance and Budget Commission and representatives from each bargaining unit to find mutual agreement on employee benefits, compensation and pensions.”

Steve Williams describes himself as semi-retired, living in the Wildhorse subdivision since 2000.

He has 37 years of work with city, county, and state government including working for the City of Vacaville on their Planning Commission, the County of Riverside as a land use planner, and he also spent 32 years with the California Energy Commission.  He is currently working part-time as a Senior Technical Editor for the California Energy Commission; and is responsible for editing research reports going to the Energy Commission’s senior management, the Governor and the Legislature.

He also describes himself as registered Republican but says he does not vote the party line.  He argues that Government is not a business but must provide “services that meet public needs that cannot be provided by the private sector.”  He argues that it must be cost-efficient and not waste limited taxpayer funds.  He also writes, “Local government should determine local priorities” and “The public should have the opportunity to understand and comment on proposed decisions being made by the city council.”

Some of the issues he mentions in the appplication form include (taking just the first five of over a dozen: “Sustain and nurture a healthy, thriving local business community that provides needed goods, services and jobs to city residents;” “Attract new businesses to expand the local tax base;” “Construct a grade-level pedestrian crossing over the train tracks so that Olive Drive residents are not further isolated from the city;” “Obtain a long-term cost-effective solution for residents’ water and sewage treatment needs;” and ” Plan growth consistent with the city’s General Plan, concentrating on in-fill projects for near-term housing needs.”

Vincent Wyatt may be more familiar to people as Steven Jerome Wyatt, a student and activist in town.  He hand wrote his statement and stated, “I want to become a member of the Davis City Council because I believe the council has a duty to be responsible to the voters of this city.”

“I have been involved in organizations for many years,” he continues.  “My area of expertise is community organizing and effective public relations.”

On the issues he writes, “The city needs to do more to help public [sic] the common working person out of the recession.  The city should strive to increase programs that improve the quality of life for all of the people who live here.”

On Saturday the Vanguard wrote a lengthy piece on the first five candidates to file.  These candidates include Dan Wolk, an Attorney for Solano County; Paul Boylan an attorney who currently serves as general counsel for the Orland Unified School District and Glenn County Office of Education; Walter Bunter Jr.  a senior citizen and a 37-year resident of East Davis; Robert Smith, a retired resident since March of 2000; and Kari Fry, a Life and Health Insurance Agent and Homemaker.

The Vanguard will have wall-to-wall coverage.  The next date in the timeline is February 1, when the Council narrows the applicant field to 10 or fewer candidates.  In retrospect, ten seems like a lot, but we’re almost there.  From February 2-7, the DMA (Davis Media Access) will tape candidate statements and the first public forum will be February 16.

It seems likely that one of these ten will be the next Davis City Councilmember.

—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.

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  1. Dr. Wu


    This is a great opportunity for you to ask the candidates questions and post the answers to your site or perhaps ask them to write some sort of manifesto that addresses certain issues. The key issues in my mind are:

    1. unfunded pension liabilities
    2. what to do about Hunt-Wesson (as opposed to platitudes, we have a specific project before us)
    3. assuming the candidates wants to grow Davis’ economy/business, how would they do this, be specific–what sorts of retail would they encourage and how?
    4. How would they encourage other businesses such as hi-tech industries to Davis?
    5. How could they make Davis more sustainable?

    Of course the four council members will ultimately decide, but this blog has had an influence and all four remaining Council members have participated in this blog over the past year.

    I think we all collectively could help suss out candidates who know the issues and can think creatively versus those who say things that sound nice but mean very little.

  2. davisite2

    Excellent idea, Dr Wu… This interim Council appointee has the opportunity to have the “inside-track” to be elected by the voters in the next Council election. Quite a few of these candidates, from the descriptions given, can be reasonably assumed to have little or no personal political ambitions beyond our city’s borders. It is telling to see the type of candidates who are willing to give their time and energies to serve Davis when the neccesity of raising $20-$30,000 to run a campaign is not a factor. It is a rare opportunity to put a populist candidate on our Council who is not beholden to monied special interests for campaign funds.

  3. E Roberts Musser

    I am pleased to see so many very qualified candidates step forward to do a tough job for almost no pay. One of the things I have always been very impressed with about Davis is its citizens’ willingness to get involved in the local political process. This should be an interesting contest…best of luck to all the candidates, and may the best man/woman win!

  4. Rifkin

    [i]” It is telling to see the type of candidates who are willing to give their time and energies to serve Davis when the neccesity of raising $20-$30,000 to run a campaign is not a factor.”[/i]

    I think that’s an excellent point. In our normal campaigns there are generally two types who run: a few who have the contacts and friends and associates and so on which help them raise tens of thousands of dollars; and a few others who know they have no chance, but they have a point of view they want heard in the forums. It seems like with this list we have a good mix of those two plus many who are somewhere in between, having a strong background and a host of ideas that motivate them.

    [i]”It is a rare opportunity to put a populist candidate on our Council who is not beholden to monied special interests for campaign funds.”[/i]

    It is rare that such people win office. But it’s not that rare that they are candidates. Almost every election we have a Rob Roy or a Jon Li type who does not or cannot raise much money. What is distinct, here, is that factor of having raised no money (and hence no corrupting influences) is not a handicap.

  5. Rifkin

    Before this process got going, I made three predictions, and all three were wrong:

    1) That there would be very few candidates. I was worried that the council would not have many people to choose from;

    2) That the person who was chosen would be an insider, such as someone who actively worked to elect one or more of the current members of the council; and

    3) That the insider would be someone who had already been elected citywide.

    In that I was wrong across the board, take this with a grain of kosher salt: I think Dan Wolk should be seen right now as the favorite to be chosen because of his ties to Rochelle Swanson ([url][/url]) and to Joe Krovoza ([url][/url]) and the warm feelings most have toward his famous mother (and his father, former Dean of the law school, as well) and perhaps to a lesser extent, that Dan’s famous parents have been supporters of Stephen Souza ([url][/url]) each time he ran.

    I’m not saying the process is over or that it will be a slam dunk for Dan. I think with this large of a field the debate forum and the videos and the interchange with the members of the council will be very important. I am sure that if you asked all four members of the council right now who they support, each would honestly say they are open minded and waiting to hear from everyone in the field. But still, I think Dan Wolk starts out with a definite edge based on his associations with most people on the council. (I should add that I don’t know if any of the others in the field of ten have personal or political ties to the people on the council.)

  6. David Suder

    The City Council has described this process as being as close as possible to an election, without actually being an election. However, that’s like being a little bit pregnant. This process, so far, is turning out to be nothing like an election. It is much more like gubernatorial appointments, which provide myriad opportunities for political paybacks. The process may, however, provide tremendous insight into how the current councilmembers view themselves and each other. Consider the differences between this process and an election:
    No “retread” candidates. No Sydney Vergis, no Mike Levy, no Rob Roy…
    Unlike an election, the candidates know exactly who they are pitching to, and can tailor their platform to be attractive to the four who will actually select them (or even to a plurality of the four, if they expect divided choices).
    The process provides an opportunity for councilmembers to multiply their individual power, if they can get a candidate apppointed who will play a supporting role to them.
    Instead of campaign manuevering, there will be extensive behind-the-scenes lobbying. The usual campaign operatives are eliminated from this process.
    The sitting councilmembers may very well employ different selection criteria than voters would, well beyond simply assessing how they would likely vote on issues. For instance, if Stepthen Souza and Sue Greenwald intend to run for re-election, they will have to consider the likelihood that the appointed councilmember will run for election in 2012 and the potential strength of the new councilmember as an opponent if s/he does so. All councilmembers may also (at least subconciously) consider how each candidate might reflect on their own image and performance. Will s/he outshine me? Will s/he be effective in presenting points of view contrary to mine? Will s/he angle for commission appointments that I want?This should be fascinating. What it will not be, however, is a process that will end up with results in any way similar to an election. We should banish that misconception here and now.

  7. David Suder

    Hmmm. The HTML tags that I used in the above post worked in the preview, but not in the posting. There was supposed to be a bullet list (unordered list). I hope it makes sense without that formatting.

  8. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]For instance, if Stepthen Souza and Sue Greenwald intend to run for re-election, they will have to consider the likelihood that the appointed councilmember will run for election in 2012 and the potential strength of the new councilmember as an opponent if s/he does so. David Suder[/quote]One thing that I can absolutely promise you is that I will not pick a weak applicant due to reelection consideration.

  9. David Suder

    [quote]One thing that I can absolutely promise you is that I will not pick a weak applicant due to reelection consideration. – Sue G
    Sue, one of the things I have admire about you is that you’re not a typical politician (and I mean that in a good way). If you were, this would be one of your primary criteria. My previous post was intended mostly to point out that this appointment process is nothing like an election, and that the process of selecting a peer to join the Council has myriad built-in potential conflicts due to human nature.

    I hope the Council will end up appointing someone who will effectively support the efforts that you have made for years to get the City finances under control without resorting to half-truths, smoke and mirrors. So far, the new Council seems to be serious about this. I kind of wish we could proceed with just the current four members.

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