Wolk Packs the (Bounce) House in Announcement Party

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To put 250 people at an event, an announcement for a candidacy where the election is still eight months away, is an impressive feat.  Then again, Dan Wolk probably had about a 20-year head start on the competition.  Many, if not most, of the attendees at this event probably have attended Lois Wolk events in the past.

Still, there is something refreshing watching a candidate for public office, any office, chasing his young daughter around a bounce house set up on the periphery of the massive facility that once housed the Davis Branch of the Yolo County Library.

The bounce house is emblematic of Mr. Wolk’s campaign theme, looking toward the future generation.

“I’m really glad that my daughters are here, and the other children are here because that is exactly why I’m running,” he told the audience.  “I want to make sure the community that they grow up in is a stronger one than the Davis I grew up in.”

If the atmosphere was light and jovial, the underlying message was less so.

“Davis right now is at a real crossroads,” he said turning more serious, “We are facing a lot of serious issues – a lot of long-term problems that have been allowed to fester.  I’m talking about problems like unfunded liabilities with respect to our pensions and our retiree health benefits.  I’m talking about our deteriorating infrastructure.”

He also mentioned lack of affordability in housing and water supply issues.

“There are a lot of these sort of long-term structural problems and it is really incumbent upon this council to solve these problems,” he continued.  He wants to make sure that the current community does not burden the next generation – that of his children – with these problems.

Not all is bleak.  He credited the council, in his first seven months in office since his appointment, with starting the city on the path to deal with long-term issues such as the budget.

He noted the attendance of his colleagues, and likely electoral adversaries, Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza.  He noted that, in the last seven months, the council has worked better together with fewer moments of contentiousness.

“Those who know council, know that in the past it has been somewhat acrimonious at times,” Mr. Wolk told the crowd.  “I think that this council has done a much better job in terms of being a lot more collegial – we certainly disagree – but definitely, at least… the debates are much more measured, they are much more friendly.”

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Dan Wolk joins a crowded field.  Brett Lee announced his running for Davis City Council a few weeks ago.  Sue Greenwald told the Vanguard around the same time that she is running for a fourth term.  Stephen Souza did not respond to a Vanguard inquiry, but it is widely believed he will seek a third term on the Davis City Council.

There will be plenty of time for Mr. Wolk to drill down on what appears to be the crucial issues coming before this council and future councils, issues of the surface water project, the budget, pensions and retirement, affordable housing, environmental stewardship and growth.

As we noted earlier this week, Councilmember Wolk has already had to make some tough choices, with none tougher than the decision on June 28 to vote to cut $2.5 million in personnel costs in order to ensure fiscal stability down the road in Davis.

He called it “an awful decision” but said that it puts money into the things we need, and he would like to see that done.

Mr. Wolk, on that night, spoke about this being a new era, one in which the olds ways of doing things were no longer viable.

He called it, “An era of shared sacrifice,” and said it is “incumbent upon us as a community to come together to devise a way to ensure the long-term fiscal stability of our city.”

In another pivotal moment, Mr. Wolk presented the possibility of compromise on water, that might have averted the referendum showdown.

Councilmember Dan Wolk, with backing from Mayor Pro Tem Rochelle Swanson, would have set a one-time 10% water rate increase for this year, while allowing time to explore various options and approaches.

“I support the project, but have been really disappointed with the process,” he told the Vanguard.

“We’ve accomplished a great deal in a relatively short amount of time,” said Councilmember Wolk.

But Dan Wolk believes the work has only begun. “No doubt I am proud of what we’ve done. However, I am even more excited about the work we have yet to do.”

On Friday night, we saw a glimpse of that.  But at the same time, while the numbers were impressive, what we saw was only his mother’s constituency.

However, that was a constituency large enough to not only propel Lois Wolk to two terms as Mayor, but to elevate her to County Supervisor, Assemblymember and now state Senator.  That is certainly nothing to sneeze at.

And yet, if Dan Wolk wishes to escape the shadows, he must forge his own path.  He started doing that with his vote on the budget, and continued that by pushing forward the compromise on water that his colleagues did not take up.

As Dan Wolk wrote, “On one side, there are those who do not believe that we need to move away from our sole reliance on groundwater to a surface water supply. But this is simply untenable. Groundwater is environmentally unsustainable. Not only is the supply of quality drinking water shrinking, it’s also high in nitrates, as well as chromium, selenium and other harmful water quality constituents.”

“And although it would be easier to kick the can down the road, this would be a dereliction of my civic duty. My generation – and my children’s generation – is bearing the burden of the lack of long-term planning in unfunded liabilities and crumbling infrastructure. And nowhere is that more evident than with this water project,” he wrote.

“When they grow up, I do not want my children to say that I had an opportunity to make the necessary investment in our future and did not do it,” he wrote.

From top to bottom, that is what this was all about – the children and the future.

—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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6 Comments

  1. jkclemens

    Great event for Dan Wolk last night! I must share a different perspective on the composition of the assembled body, however. I think you may be misrepresenting the motivation of the majority of the attendees and doing Dan a tremendous disservice in the process. Yes, Dan’s parents and some of their friends were there, typical for any candidate, but not every 50, 60 and 70+ person present could accurately be characterized as only a Senator Wolk constituent. My husband and I spent a lot of time visiting and chatting with a number of friends and acquaintances representing the broad of ages present, from their mid-20’s to our 65+, and none of us would define ourselves as you have. We talked about this very thing with many present and all said they supported Dan for his smart, thoughtful and independent thinking and were not there simply because of a relationship with Senator Wolk. Just our experience….

  2. hpierce

    From my experience, and from what I have heard from those who I respect, both of Dan’s parents have accomplished much and have great reputations for intelligence and integrity (not that I’ve always agreed with Lois’ positions on various matters)… “the fruit does not fall far from the tree”… I disagree with Dan on several issues, but have been impressed with his intelligence, thoughtfulness, and integrity. We’ll see if he is someone who I support for the Council, but I’m favorably inclined, based on his performance to date (and his “pedigree” (just joking)). That being said, I am confident that he will be judged by his own performance/merits.

  3. Rifkin

    VANGUARD: [i]Dan Wolk joins a [b]crowded[/b] field.[/i]

    Crowded? There are 3 seats at stake. There are now 3 announced candidates. How is that crowded?

    Let me give an example of a really crowded field: the 2000 Davis City Council race. There were 8 candidates; and 7 of them were serious and competitive. While Susie Boyd finished in first fairly easily, she only won 18.6% of the vote. Joe Boyd (no relation to Susie) finished in 7th with 11.5%. Mike Harrington edged out Sue Greenwald (by 426 votes) for the second seat. Jerry Kaneko, Tansey Thomas and Stan Forbes were all close behind Ms. Greenwald.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]“I’m really glad that my daughters are here, and the other children are here because that is exactly why I’m running,” he told the audience. “I want to make sure the community that they grow up in is a stronger one than the Davis I grew up in.”[/quote]

    Excellent message to run on!

  5. David M. Greenwald

    I looked very closely and I have photos, that event was primarily old Davis. I have all the respect in the world for Dan Wolk, but he doesn’t draw 250 people to his first event alone. If you want to argue that I am not literally correct on the “only his mother’s constituency” then you are probably right.

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