Council Names Krovoza Mayor and Swanson Mayor Pro Tem

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Souza-mayor-pro-tem-speechCouncilmember Souza Leaves in Huff After Contentious Vote –

On Tuesday night, the Davis City Council dealt with the issue of who would succeed Don Saylor as Mayor, while setting forth the process by which they would decide who will succeed him on the council. 

Joe Krovoza was elected as the new Mayor of Davis while Rochelle Swanson was named to fill the position Mr. Krovoza previously held as Mayor Pro Tem.  It was a largely unsurprising result, however, it was marked by a surprising degree of contention as Councilmember Stephen Souza made two separate efforts on his own behalf.

It has not been a secret that Stephen Souza has coveted the Mayoral position.  However, he is going to have to earn that distinction electorally if he is to obtain it all.

Sensing that an outright appointment as Mayor was out of his reach, Mr. Souza attempted to concoct a solution that could only be described as fitting.  He would have created a rotating Mayoralship for the next 18 months.

Attempting to gain Sue Greenwald’s support, he would have named her Mayor for the first six months, himself Mayor for the following six months, and Rochelle Swanson as Mayor for the six months leading up to the election.

One immediate problem would have been that would have put Rochelle Swanson who finished second to Joe Krovoza in the last election as Mayor before Mr. Krovoza took the position he won electorally.

Another problem is that Mr. Souza would gain an electoral advantage from being able to add the title of ex-Mayor to his resume as he faced reelection in 2012, while Sue Greenwald has already held that title.

“I have no doubt that you’ll be a fantastic Mayor, Joe,” Councilmember Souza began.  “But I think the point that is unique here is the fact that we have an election cycle in which 18 months of a Mayoral shift goes to an election cycle that Sue Greenwald, myself, and former Mayor Don Saylor participated in.”

“That election cycle is an extra 18 months,” he continued, “It would be very unique to see a three and a half year term, so therefore I thought we had this extraordinary opportunity before us.  There is bounty in the 18 months that we can split amongst three other councilmembers.”

Former Davis Mayor Jerry Adler spoke, as author of the city’s ordinance on the selection of the Mayor and the Mayor Pro Tem.  While he argued that the purpose of the ordinance was to take the politics out of the process, he said that in this situation there is no reason that the Mayor Pro Tem would automatically ascend to the Mayorship.

Furthermore, he argued that as Mayor, Joe Krovoza would serve for three and a half years consecutively, something that has not occurred in Davis for decades.

While Jerry Adler claimed authorship of the ordinance, the Vanguard learned later that in fact Maynard Skinner and Lois Wolk crafted that ordinance, with Jerry Adler only playing a nominal role in its passage.

He argued that the council had the ability to appoint anyone and they ought to look somewhere other than a three and a half year Joe Krovoza term as Mayor.  While he did not expressly advocate for Stephen Souza at this moment, it would later become clear that Mr. Adler was there speaking on Stephen Souza’s behalf.

While Rochelle Swanson seconded Mr. Souza’s motion for the purposes of discussion, she would also second Sue Greenwald’s substitute motion that moved that Joe Krovoza be named Mayor.

Rochelle Swanson argued that while she sympathized somewhat with Stephen Souza’s idea, she felt that she and Joe Krovoza were elected to help foster in a new and more collegial council and that the need for continuity was important.  Thus she felt that changing the Mayorship every six months would be disruptive.

Joe Krovoza, clearly awkward in speaking on his own behalf, stated that the community that he had spoken to had an understanding that, while technically the council had the prerogative to appoint anyone, the expectation was that in the case of a vacancy of the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem would become the next Mayor.

The motion would pass 3-0 with Stephen Souza abstaining.

The Mayor Pro Tem election would prove far more contentious.  Sue Greenwald almost immediately moved to name Rochelle Swanson as Mayor Pro Tem, citing the need for new ideas and a new tone.  Mayor Krovoza would second the motion.

However, failing to recognize the dynamics, Stephen Souza made an ill-considered and fruitless attempt to get his colleagues to consider him.

“Now I have to speak to myself,” Councilmember Stephen Souza began in one of his most ill-considered moments on the council, of which there have been several noteworthy moments.  “Before my motion was to the body as a whole, so now I’m going to speak for myself.”

“Twenty-three years of service to this community, numerous evenings I have given up,” he said.

“Every one one of those bodies I have served on, I have done it fair and equitably, and always treating everybody who was a member of that body with respect,” he continued.

“In 2008, I was 381 votes short of being the top vote getter, that’s pretty close,” the Councilmember continued.  “I think all of that service, that closeness of an election – in spite of knowing that the Mayor Pro Tem doesn’t have but a ceremonial position and title – I would like to have it be part of my service to the community.”

“My guess is that you’re going to be the top vote-getter one of these days, Rochelle, and you will get the Mayorship,” he continued.  “I don’t know what’s happening in my future.  All I know is that I’m here now and I know I have another 16 months of service that I can give this community.  I don’t know if I’m running for reelection.”

“So I would plead to you as my colleagues to at least give me the opportunity, to at least give me that title,” he concluded.

You can watch the entirety of his comments on the Youtube video below.

In the end, he put his colleagues in a tough position, rather than bowing out gracefully.

Jerry Adler, as a member of the public, went up and spoke on Stephen Souza’s behalf, arguing his tenure of service while acknowledging that he no longer even lives in Davis.

At this point, I spoke up and suggested that the council needs to consider the fact that given that both Stephen Souza and Sue Greenwald are up for election in 2012, they ought not play electoral favorites.  That left Rochelle Swanson who would not be running for reelection, if at all, until 2014 as the most obvious choice.

Mayor Krovoza picked up on this point as well, citing the need to remain above politics in these matters.

Contentiousness broke out as Sue Greenwald explained why she did not feel that Stephen Souza was a good choice at this time and Stephen Souza tried to counter that.

In the end, Rochelle Swanson was put into the awkward position of having to announce her intention.  She made the point about the change in tenor in the last twenty minutes and that she had been elected, in her mind, to raise the tone.

Once again the vote ended 3-0 with Stephen Souza abstaining.

Following the vote, Stephen Souza appeared to leave the dais, gathering his stuff. He returned for the last brief discussion on filling appointment vacancies, before rushing off without a comment and without talking to his colleagues.

COMMENTARY

His handling of this matter and his reaction to the vote should show to all citizens precisely why the council made the right decision in making Joe Krovoza Mayor and Rochelle Swanson Vice-Mayor.

Mr. Souza inadvertently said it all when he called the Davis Mayorship “bounty” and suggested it could be “split,” as though the Mayorship of the City of Davis were some prize to be obtained and that he would show his magnanimity by sharing in the bounty with his colleagues rather than try to hold onto it for himself.

He spoke to the values of respect, compassion and civility, which he argued could be held even when holding different views, but at the same time, he has not always adhered to that.

That tone continued when he gave a very self-serving call for his own appointment to Mayor Pro Tem.  “I would like to have it be part of my service to the community,” he said as though, again, it were some kind of prize.

It was undignified to literally “plead” with his colleagues to “give me the title.”

Mr. Souza has had good moments and bad moments in his nearly 7 year tenure on the council.  This was a moment that he will not want to re-live and neither will the community. 

He wanted it, he wanted the title and the acknowledgment too much.  Rochelle Swanson was awkward and tenuous about the whole thing, as was Mayor Krovoza.  That is how a public servant should act, in the best interest not of themselves but of the community.

It is telling that in his plea, Stephen Souza only talked about himself, never about the community and why his appointment would be in the best interest of the community.  It was about him and getting that title, and that is why above all else he should not have it.

Worst yet, he turned something that should have been about Davis’ future, and the joyous occasion for Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson to be new leaders in this community, into something that seemed political, petty, distasteful and tense.  You could could cut the tension with a knife, as he took the frivolity and joy out of that room.  Rochelle Swanson said it about the changed tenor, and that was ultimately why she decided, perhaps reluctantly, to speak for and vote for herself.  It was in the best interest of Davis, not because it was in the best interest necessarily of Rochelle Swanson.

In the end, Mr. Souza is a legacy of the former council, he is the lone hold-out from what was once a powerful 4-1 voting block that rammed through Covell Village.  That was a council marked by petty differences and disputes.  While Mr. Souza might not have been the biggest instigator of those conflicts, and at times even helped smoothed things over, there were a number of occasions where he joined in and enabled things to happen that should not have occurred.

The times have changed.  The voters elected Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson, two people who will be polite and courteous and respectful, even during the times when they disagree on the issues.

It should also signal to the public that times have really changed and the idea that there will be a new gang of three is not accurate.  We do not know where this council will come down on policy issues, but I think the tenor of the relationships will improve over time.

—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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25 thoughts on “Council Names Krovoza Mayor and Swanson Mayor Pro Tem”

  1. davisite2

    The most remarkable thing is that with enough “exposure”, viewed by the voters both live and on TV, those who we chose to represent us truly reveal themselves.

  2. Rifkin

    [i]”(Jerry Adler) argued that the council had the ability to appoint anyone and they ought to look somewhere other than a three and a half year Joe Krovoza term as Mayor.”[/i]

    Jerry also said, in explaining his views on a mayor serving for more than two consecutive years, that he didn’t think that anyone had done so “since the 1940s.”

    I was fairly certain Jerry was mistaken in that regard as soon as he said it, but I looked it up to be sure. We have had two such mayors since C.A. Covell terminated his 17 year run as mayor, which itself followed the 12 years that Gordon Anderson–grandfather of Jennifer Anderson–was mayor of Davis.

    Vern Hickey–who was a former coach and then the Athletic Director at UCD and has his name on the old gym by the MU bus station–was the mayor of Davis from 1954-60. Mr. Hickey served on the City Council from April, 1947 to April, 1960. I think he won the seat which had been held by Calvin Covell since 1928. In other words, one council seat was warmed by but two butts for 32 years.

    Norm Woodbury–who had never before served on the City Council–was elected in 1960 and was chosen as the mayor of Davis by his colleagues for the next four years.

    Regardless of precedent or the decision last night to elevate Joe Krovoza, my own view is that the mayor should ALWAYS be picked by the council as a whole, the same way the legislature picks its Speaker. I don’t like the system of giving the gavel to the person who won a plurality of votes in an election two years prior. I think the mayor should instead be the person that most members of the council believe deserves the job. And if the council picks someone who they come to believe should not be in that position, I would have the council replace that mayor with a new one among them.

  3. New leadership for Davis

    Congratulations to Mayor Joe Krovoza and Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson. Both have demonstrated that they are fair minded, even tempered and will lead Davis with the well being of its citizens in mind at all times. New leadership for Davis has arrived.

  4. New leadership for Davis

    Stephen Souza’s outlandish behavior last night was hard to watch. Souza’s display of arrogance, pettiness, childish and egocentric behavior and his attempted manipulation of the council as he spoke as to why HE should be mayor and then mayor pro tem demonstrated why he is not fit to be either. On the other hand his three colleagues calmly discussed and then voted to make Joe mayor and Rochelle mayor pro tem. Stephen abstained from making both votes unanimous, demonstrating his overt bitterness and pettiness for not receiving either title. Bottom line, Souza has demonstrated over a long period of time erratic and juvenile behaviors and his colleagues were not about to put the leadership of the council in his hands.

    Souza often does not respect those he disagrees with and in fact he is one of the most condescending people around. He often is someone who does not bring divergent interests or people together to solve problems but instead insults people with his sense of superiority. By and large he is a divider not a unifier. As a well known leader in Davis has often said “Souza is someone who has not grown while in office” where as most leaders learn and become better as time goes on, Stephen reverts to erratic and childish behaviors. Last night was more evidence of the same.

    DMG summed it up best: [quote]The times have changed. The voters elected Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson, two people who will be polite and courteous and respectful, even during the times when they disagree on the issues.[/quote]

  5. Rifkin

    NLFD: [i]”Souza’s display of arrogance, pettiness, childish and egocentric behavior … his overt bitterness and pettiness … Souza has demonstrated over a long period of time erratic and juvenile behaviors … he is one of the most condescending people around.”[/i]

    In my opinion, even though Stephen is a public figure, it is wrong of you to publicly and personally attack him like this. And I think it is worse that you do so without revealing your own name.

    I am not saying this as some kind of politcal ally of Stephen’s–I have made the very same defense of Sue Greenwald when anonymous posters have attacked her on this blog. I simply believe that if you are going to damn an individual the way you have done, you should at least put your name to it so you can be subject to a fair comeback.

  6. Davis Enophile

    Just curious Rich, what would a fair comeback look like if a person posted their name – further “damning” of character? Does the fair comeback include damning the character of the commenter, or the character of the comment? If you feel general damning of character is okay, then I can see why the disadvantage of not knowing who the commenter is really matters.

    Again, just curious. I don’t wish to be damned.

  7. Rifkin

    [i]”Just curious Rich, what would a fair comeback look like if a person posted their name – further “damning” of character?”[/i]

    How about a demonstration with signs out in front of the person’s place of business? Maybe another at the supermarket he shops? Or a third at his barber shop when he is gettin a hair cut? A fourth could be using those stones along I-80 where the Causeway begins? A fifth could be while he is walking his dog?

  8. E Roberts Musser

    Congratulations to Mayor Joe Krovoza and Mayor Pro-Tem Rochelle Swanson. Under the circumstances, I believe it was the only logical decision to be made. I understand Steve Souza’s frustrations, but hopefully after Steve has had time to reflect, he will accept the decision w more grace and continue to serve Davis citizens to the best of his ability.

  9. Sue Greenwald

    [quote]Contentiousness broke out as Sue Greenwald explained why she did not feel that Stephen Souza was a good choice at this time and Stephen Souza tried to counter that.– David Greenwald[/quote] Of course, this isn’t quite fair, David. As I said last night, I would have preferred to keep the tone positive, and my initial statement on my motion was entirely focused on the positive.

    The problem is that Rochelle wasn’t supporting the motion and seemed at a loss concerning how to deal with Stephen’s claims that he had always been “fair” and had served on so many boards.

    Rochelle didn’t seem to be making any progress towards a decision (probably feeling embarrassed to vote for herself in the face of Steve’s claims on his own behalf.) That put me in the uncomfortable position of having to be more explicit about why I had moved that Rochelle be appointed to the Pro Tem spot, since we needed three votes to conclude the item.

    Since neither Rochelle nor Joe had been on the council, it was left to me to point out that that Stephen had been far from fair, which is why I felt that we needed a new culture on the council. I was forced to spell out the reasons, so I pointed out that Stephen had refused to play by the rules when he repeatedly tried to change the highest vote-getter ordinance which would have allowed him to become mayor instead of myself, and then tried to change the ordinance again in a manner that would have allowed him to displace Joe as mayor.

    Since one of his main arguments which seemed to be keeping Rochelle from coming to a decision was that he had served as president of so many boards, and had always been “fair”, I had to point out that the reason that he had presided over so many boards was that he had, in a quite ruthless fashion, voted me off and himself onto these boards on which, by custom, I would have served as mayor. I pointed out that these actions were unfair and divisive, and again, that we needed a change of culture on the council.

    Then, I added that I very much appreciated Stephen’s enthusiasm, hard work and creativity, but that the mayor and vice mayor positions require the qualities of fairness above all else, which is why I thought that Rochelle would be the best choice for that particular role.

    I do think that we will have a complete change of culture on the council with Joe and Rochelle in the positions of chair, and I think this will change the way politics is conducted for a long time to come.

  10. David M. Greenwald

    Sue: It’s an accurate statement and I tried to keep it brief, but you did make critical comments about Stephen – with justification as you point – critical comments are not bad comments. You may be right that it needed to happen. I really didn’t make a judgment on that.

    Stephen did respond. I could have added some meat to that, but the article was already getting long and I didn’t want to lose focus.

    Maybe it did weigh on Rochelle as she would make a comment on the tenor in the last twenty minutes. There is a history there which is why I did not think he was the best choice to be Mayor Pro Tem.

  11. E Roberts Musser

    dmg: ” You may be right that it needed to happen.”

    Frankly, I don’t think Sue Greenwald had much choice but to explain Souza’s prior conduct, in light of the fact Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson may not have been aware of past history. Sue was forced to provide proper context… which has often been her unfortunate lot. I appreciate Sue’s willingness to wade in and say uncomfortable truths when necessary…and far too often it seems to be necessary…

  12. Sue Greenwald

    I agree that Rochelle not want any negative statements, but she had deadlocked the council, forcing a rebuttal to Stephen’s arguments. There was no other possible other rebuttal (I know because I tried to figure one out and couldn’t), as Joe and I had already tried the tactful approaches, and Rochelle was still paralyzed.

    Sometimes, the best way to keep things tactful is to swallow hard and take a position, even if that position makes someone unhappy.

  13. hpierce

    Sue Greenwald “forced” to be negative, to “help” the ‘newbies’ figure out how to proceed? Cry me a river! Two ‘drama queens’ and two “what do I do next”? Let’s make whoever is chosen to fill the vacant position as the new mayor as well. Souza’s behavior & Greenwald’s behavior (along with her pitiful defense of it) does not bode well for the Council moving forward [if they even can]…

  14. Dr. Wu

    Our fair city has a number of problems.

    How will rotating the mayorship every 6 months help?

    The Council made the right decision. Let us all pray that this is a turning point.

  15. Sue Greenwald

    hpierce: I believe that you will be proven wrong and that the new council will now function very collegially and smoothly under Joe Krovosa and Rochelle Swanson.

    One of the problems with the Brown Act is that decisions such as these sometimes cannot be made as tactfully as they could if we could work them out with each other off the dais.

  16. New leadership for Davis

    Davis needs our leaders to be free of the historical bickering, petty jealousies and disrespectful conduct that have chronically afflicted our “senior” council members and spilled over into the public arena in recent years. The selection of Joe Krovoza and Rochelle Swanson as the new leadership team for Davis bodes well for our community. Both have proven to be independent thinkers, professional in their conduct, who work well with others including their council colleagues and will put the well being of the citizens of Davis first and foremost. But Joe and Rochelle will have to be on guard against their two “senior” councilmembers who from time to time are all about me, I, and myself turning council meetings into arenas for their misbehavior.

  17. Mark West

    Davis Enophile

    Rich, that was cute, but do you care to really answer the question?

    The only answer from my perspective is that if you are unwilling to sign your name, you shouldn’t be making the comment.

  18. Sue Greenwald

    To “New leadership for Davis”: If it was “all about me”, I would have accepted Stephen’s offer to be the mayor for the next six months. I turned down that offer because it was not in the best interest of the city for me to be mayor at this point in history.

    As I said, I believe that you will see an entirely different council dynamic with Joe and Rochelle as chair. That is why I argued so vigorously for their appointments.

  19. Sue Greenwald

    To “New leadership for Davis”: If it was “all about me”, I would have accepted Stephen’s offer to be the mayor for the next six months. I turned down that offer because it was not in the best interest of the city for me to be mayor at this point in history.

    As I said, I believe that you will see an entirely different council dynamic with Joe and Rochelle as chair. That is why I argued so vigorously for their appointments.

  20. New leadership for Davis

    [quote]Sue Greenwald:
    To “New leadership for Davis”: If it was “all about me”, I would have accepted Stephen’s offer to be the mayor for the next six months. I turned down that offer because it was not in the best interest of the city for me to be mayor at this point in history.

    As I said, I believe that you will see an entirely different council dynamic with Joe and Rochelle as chair. That is why I argued so vigorously for their appointments.[/quote]
    My concern and that of many others in our community is that “from time to time” in the past your and Stephen’s conduct has devolved into petty bickering and personal jealousies which are unprofessional and completely ignore the good of the community. Tuesday night Stephen was all about me, I and myself.

  21. E Roberts Musser

    NLFD: “My concern and that of many others in our community is that “from time to time” in the past your and Stephen’s conduct has devolved into petty bickering and personal jealousies which are unprofessional and completely ignore the good of the community. Tuesday night Stephen was all about me, I and myself.”

    Sometimes it is necessary to stand up and speak out. At the time it may appear “uncivil” to some. But too often the “gang of three” (Asmundson, Saylor, Souza) used the word “uncivil” to stifle dissent. (I know, I was on the receiving end of this kind of tactic.) There has been an extremely unfortunate dynamic on the City Council which was tantamount to bullying by the majority. Sue Greenwald and Lamar Heystek were both victims of it. If you needle a person enough times, you invariably will get a reaction that may be not quite what you expected.

    I, for one, am glad to see the “gang of three” no longer in existence. I also think Sue Greenwald said what needed to be said during the recent debate on who should become Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem. The right decision was made. It was difficult for Souza to swallow, and he had a temporary lapse – but he’s human. I just don’t take this nonsense that seriously. Let’s move on, and hope the new City Council will be more collegial (I think they will), but more importantly will pay more attention to our city’s most pressing issues…

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