STUNNING DECISION IN DAVIS COUNCIL RACE

Frerichs and Lee In; Souza and Greenwald Out

Brett-Lee-wins-with-team

As expected, Dan Wolk cruised to a first place finish and in July he will become the Mayor Pro Tem and eventually succeed Joe Krovoza as Mayor.  It was not a huge surprise that Lucas Frerichs would finish second – after all, he has spent a decade in service to Davis and ended up raising the most campaign money.

The stunner is that both of the long-term incumbents lost – both Sue Greenwald, a three-term councilmember, and Stephen Souza who would finish fifth in the five-person race after winning both in 2004 and 2008.

The biggest stunner was that newcomer Brett Lee, who many, including the Vanguard, predicted would finish fifth, ended up finishing third in a tightly-bunched race that saw very low voter turnout.

The final tally had Dan Wolk finishing first in every single precinct in the city, receiving a stunning 29.1% and 8708 votes, and no one else received even 6000.

Lucas Frerichs finished second, with 5827 votes at 19.5% and Brett Lee finished third, holding off Sue Greenwald by 230 votes in earning 5368.  Finishing fifth was Stephen Souza at 4880.

The results leave Davis with one of its youngest city councils in years – Joe Krovoza is the oldest member at 49 and Lucas Frerichs the youngest at 32.

All five members will have two years of service or less.

Lucas Frerichs called it, “A sea change for Davis.”

The story of the night was the surprise win by Brett Lee.  In the coming hours and days, the Vanguard will analyze what this change means policy-wise, if anything, and how the dynamics change.

The results poured in slowly, with the original results coming in just after 8 pm but the first precincts did not report until after 10, and the final results did not come in until 1 am.

The Vanguard caught up with Brett Lee just before 2 am at the home of former Davis Mayor Ken Wagstaff, part of the campaign team that once again produced a victory in Davis.

“I had no idea how it was going to go, I knew it was a very close race” Councilmember-elect Brett Lee told the Vanguard. “I hoped that I would win but because it was so close, I had no idea.”

He said that most people believed that Dan Wolk would be the frontrunner but that the rest was up in the air.

Brett Lee said, when he saw the initial results where he was second, well behind Dan Wolk, but ahead of the rest of the pack, “I thought, gosh that’s good news because I’m in the running and really I didn’t feel any comfort until just a few minutes ago when the 100% came in and it showed me in the third spot.”

“Up until that point I really was uncertain as to how this was going to turn out,” he added.

He said he always believed that he had a good shot of winning this race.

“Pretty much from the beginning I felt like I had a good shot at it because we were talking about some of the issues – a lot of the existing officeholders I thought were a little bit vulnerable because they really didn’t want to deal with some of the issues head on,” Mr. Lee said.

“Sue Greenwald was really great with some of the fiscal responsibility issues but when it came time to actually cut the $2.5 million from the existing budget, she said no,” Mr. Lee told the Vanguard.

“Recently the city council voted to look into the idea that they would also get the cafeteria cash out and it made me realize that they were sort of going with the status quo,” he said.  “I think people in the general population understand that we really need to have a complete restructure of how we compensate people so that it’s affordable for the community.”

He reiterated that this is not a race to the bottom and affirmed that the city would continue to pay for pensions and health care, but he wants to look really hard at what’s affordable to the community compared to how UC Davis and the state compensate their employees.

Brett Lee said as long as people focused on the issues and what was important, he would be in the running for a council seat.

The big question is, of course, what are his priorities to tackle once he is formally seated on the council.

“The biggest issue is the budget,” he said, not surprisingly.  But he said, “I think the number one issue in terms of priority is that we need to fix the way the city council meetings are run.  They’re ineffective and inefficient.”

“We’ve got to get the meetings to be more effective and efficient,” he said.  He believes, having talked to the other councilmembers, that they are on the same page.  “It’s not fair to the current city council people, it’s not fair to city staff, it’s also most importantly not fair to the community.”

He specifically is concerned about the length of meetings where members of the public wait for an item for several hours only to see it deferred to a future meeting.

“That’s not fair,” he said noting that people take time out of their busy lives and away from their family only to have the expected item postponed.

Much has been made about the issue of collaborative spirit, which seems to have replaced the term “civility” for how the councilmembers ought to conduct themselves when dealing with the public and each other.

He disputed the notion that the newly-elected councilmember would all be “nice guys.”

“I think that we just have the social skills that we can agree to disagree on certain issues,” he said, but added, “I’m sure we’re going to stick to our guns on the things that we believe in.  But we’ll be able to work collaboratively.”

“I’m not sure it’s so much nice guys as just the fact that we’re used to the real world where getting stuff done is more important than talking about stuff,” he said.

Speaking of getting stuff done, no rest for the weary.  Mr. Lee and Mr. Frerichs will be expected to be up to speed and ready to go early in July.  While the council may have worked out a budget and the labor negotiations by then – it is a bit of a long shot.

The Vanguard will have features on both Mr. Frerichs and Mr. Wolk, as well as analysis of this and several other critical races.

—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

15 Comments

  1. Bill Ritter

    Lamar Heystek campaigned for a city council seat in 2006 with the theme: [i]“It is a brand new day!”[/i]

    With the election of Rochelle Swanson and Joe Krovoza in 2010 and now the election of Dan Wolk, Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee in 2012 it truly is a new day in Davis politics—which bodes well for our city. Congratulations to Brett, Dan and Lucas.

  2. Matt Williams

    Brett Lee said . . .

    ” But he said, “I think the number one issue in terms of priority is that we need to fix the way the city council meetings are run. They’re ineffective and inefficient.”

    [i]”We’ve got to get the meetings to be more effective and efficient,” he said. He believes having talked to the other councilmembers that they are on the same page. “It’s not fair to the current city council people, it’s not fair to city staff, it’s also most importantly not fair to the community.”

    He specifically is concerned about the length of meetings where members of the public wait for an item for several hours only to see it deferred to a future meeting.

    “That’s not fair,” he said noting that people take time out of their busy lives and away from their family only to have the expected item postponed.”[/i]

    That would be a welcome change. Putting a 5 minute time limit on each Council member’s questions in the question period and the same time limit on Discussion would be a good start.

  3. wdf1

    Yolo Elections Office shows that more voters participated in the Measure C election (17,219)than participated in the Davis City Council race (12,645). Granted that there are some provisional/late ballots to count for yesterday’s election, but I don’t see the totals changing that much.

    One factor, though, is that the school district covers a larger area than the city, including El Macero, the UCD campus, North Davis Farms, etc. Nevertheless, the percentage participation was still 2% points higher for Measure C (39.9% vs. 37.9%).

  4. civil discourse

    My guess is the mailer against Sue actually had some effect, especially for those who don’t follow “political backlashes,” or give a lot of weight to Bob Dunning’s opinion. At the very least, it reminded people of a very odd, kind of harsh time in Davis politics.

  5. Rifkin

    When I went to sleep last night, after 11 pm (quite late for me!), the only posted results on the County website were the early absentee votes, which came up at 8pm. But the final results were essentially the same.

    I was surprised that Sue did not win. I don’t know enough about what motivates all voters in their choices to say exactly why. But I think for people who don’t closely follow the issues, but vote more on whether they have a good feeling or a not-so good feeling about the individual, the combination of Sign-Gate and the Burchill flier hurt her chances with them.

    Another possibility is that this was really the triumph of those who wanted New Blood. They swept.

    My congratulations to Dan, Lucas and Brett.

    (Side note: I intended to drop in at all five candidate parties last night. Dan Wolk’s, in remote S. Davis, was the furthest from my house, so I went there first with the intention of staying no more than 10 minutes. Alas, it was like the Hotel California–I could check out anytime I liked, but I could never leave. Too many folks there to talk to. Fortunately, one other candidate, Brett Lee, dropped by Dan’s party. So at least I saw 2 of the 5. Sorry to the other 3.)

  6. Rifkin

    Side … side note: Dan Wolk gave a very nice victory speech last night to his campaign supporters. He noted that he will be our next mayor (beginning in 2014). I was thinking: If his time is not now all consumed by his full time job in Fairfield, by his train commute there and back, by his wife and his children, and by the regular work of being on the Council, when he is mayor he will have some added responsibilities, including conferences with the City Manager to decide the agenda every meeting and cutting blue ribbons and the like. Dan looks good, healthy and young. Yet he soon may lack the time to breathe.

  7. David Suder

    [quote]Putting a 5 minute time limit on each Council member’s questions in the question period and the same time limit on Discussion would be a good start.[b]- Matt[/b][/quote]While I agree that many of council’s discussions last far longer than necessary, this solution might produce problems of its own. Some issues are complex enough that they require more time to discuss. Sometimes, the best solutions to problems arise late in a group discussion. Limitation of individual question or discussion time can be an effective tool for stifling the presentation of a minority position. Matt, I know that you have spoken at public comment a number of times, so you know how difficult it can be to craft your words to deliver several important points during a 2- or 3-minute time limit.

    I don’t know what the answer is to the problem of overly-long council questions/debate, but IMO arbitrary time limits is not it.
    [quote]Congratulations to Brett, Dan and Lucas. [b]- Bill[/b][/quote][quote]My congratulations to Dan, Lucas and Brett. [b]- Rich[/b][/quote] Add my congratulations to Dan, Lucas and Brett. You guys have some tough work and long hours ahead.

  8. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]The final tally had Dan Wolk finishing first in every single precinct in the city, receiving a stunning 29.1% and 8708 votes, and no one else received even 6000.

    Lucas Frerichs finished second, with 5827 votes at 19.5% and Brett Lee finished third, holding off Sue Greenwald by 230 votes in earning 5368. Finishing fifth was Stephen Souza at 4880.[/quote]

    Dan Wolk won handily, which was expected. But the rest of the votes were fairly close, separated by only approximately a 1000 votes. As I said, other than Dan Wolk coming in first, it was anyone’s race to win or lose. Deep appreciation to Steve Souza and Sue Greenwald for their many years of service to our city. My hope is they continue to serve the city in other ways. Their institutional knowledge is invaluable. My sincerest congratulations to Dan, Lucas and Brett – who will most likely make excellent City Council members. I look forward to working with the newly formed City Council…

  9. Frankly

    [i]”I was surprised that Sue did not win. I don’t know enough about what motivates all voters in their choices to say exactly why. But I think for people who don’t closely follow the issues, but vote more on whether they have a good feeling or a not-so good feeling about the individual, the combination of Sign-Gate and the Burchill flier hurt her chances with them.”[/i]

    I have been asking the same question. There was also Ruth-gate.

    I voted for Dan, Lucas and Sue. When I told my wife my voting intent, she wrinkled her nose and said she was surprised I was voting for Sue. I asked her why, and her answer I think was telling. Aside from Sign-gate and Ruth-gate (note: these types of media circus events don’t register much with us Boones), she said that she viewed Sue as being part of the old guard council that got us into this mess. It was evidence of the “anger at the incumbent”, “throw the bums out” voter attitudes we are seeing across the globe. She said that she was planning to vote for Brett Lee… and assured me that it did NOT have anything to do with the fact she considered him attractive (apparently Brett had been campaigning in front of our houses before I got home from work).

    My vote for Sue was based on the fact that she was often the single voice taking a stand on unsustainable pay and pensions. I voted for her despite my disagreement with her on the surface water project, and also my sense that she talks more about economic development than she plans to act. I also liked her fighting spirit… I discount the value of always getting along when the stakes are this high.

    Congratulations to Dan, Lucas and Brett. I have high expectations for this council to go great things leading us to the improvements we absolutely need. God knows they have their work cut out for them.

    To Sue and Stephen, my deep thanks for your service and my hope that both of them get some much-deserved rest!

  10. Michael Harrington

    Congratulations to Dan, Lucas and Brett!

    I hope they dont rush the water project issue and rates onto the November ballot, so the WAC has time to do its work properly, and the rest of us have time to evaluate it with the CC. My sense is that the voting public will never tolerate another rush job like the CC tried to do on Sept 6, 2011. The project will have to be specific (like a Measure J/R land project), and must have the actual, fixed, legal water rates on the same ballot so we know what is coming up, and the true costs of it.

  11. Ryan Kelly

    I was not so much stunned, but mildly surprised that Sue did not win a seat. I did not vote for her, but thought that the substantial number of people who voted for her in prior elections would stick with her. Apparently, not. I’m happy with how it turned out and expect Steve Souza to be very cooperative and willing in the transition over to the new Council members.

    I’m confused by Mike Harrington’s posting. Is he saying that we will vote on the water rates? I shudder to think that we will have to go through a Harrington campaign of misinformation and accusations of fraud and deceit.

  12. Rifkin

    [i]””I think the number one issue in terms of priority is that we need to fix the way the city council meetings are run. They’re ineffective and inefficient.”[/i]

    Brett and I talked about this a few days ago. Since then, I gave it a little thought.

    One thought I have is that the ground rules of what works to make an efficient meeting for one set of five members of the Council might not work for a different set. Personalities play a role. With Joe, Rochelle, Sue, Stephen and Dan, what might have best served their needs and the end result of a speedier meeting might be different with a new dynamic of Joe, Rochelle, Dan, Lucas and Brett.

    Unfortunately, this would violate the Brown Act, but I think it would be helpful if the new quintet were allowed to get together in a quiet room for a couple of hours and have each of them give and take ideas for how to run a better meeting, and if they could develop a consensus and write informal (or formal) rules which reflect that agreement, then, I think, they would satisfy the desire to get their work done in a better fashion without compromising the integrity that David Suder explained is needed, too.

    As to my own two cents on three possible reforms:

    1) I think time would be saved if a clock were put on the staff when the initial staff report presentation is given. (The actual time allotted could be agreed upon between the mayor and the city manager.) Often, it seems to me, when the staff report for an issue is 100 or more pages, and the public has access to it, and the members of the Council have read it, the staff member(s) giving the presentation will talk for 10 or 15 or even 20 minutes giving a rehash of what the Council already knows. I think the meeting would be helped by limiting this to a 2-minute to 5-minute condensed briefing.

    2) Many times members of the Council want clarity or have questions regarding something in the written staff report. My advice is that, as much as possible, these questions should be written and submitted in advance, and the staff report’s author should write out the answers before the meeting, with public copies made available. If that were done, everyone would be able to read the Q&A and no questions would have to be repeated during the meeting. Then later, when a member of the Council is presenting his views, he could reference that Q&A to explain why this or that point is important.

    3) Depending again, on the specific five personalities and their styles, I think it might help to have a time clock on each member of the Council which runs only when that member has the floor. That time clock would not be a “time limit.” Rather, it would serve, by the end of each meeting, to show all the members who is and who is not babbling on too long. (Were I on the Council, I would be babbler in chief.) The mayor, naturally, will do the most talking, due to his role. But otherwise, the members should be close in the amount of time they are taking to make their points or ask new questions. If one of them is using up much more time all of the time, then perhaps another closed meeting (Brown Act violation) could be set up to figure an adjustment to what the five think would work better.

  13. medwoman

    “Depending again, on the specific five personalities and their styles, I think it might help to have a time clock on each member of the Council which runs only when that member has the floor. That time clock would not be a “time limit.” Rather, it would serve, by the end of each meeting, to show all the members who is and who is not babbling on too long. (Were I on the Council, I would be babbler in chief.) The mayor, naturally, will do the most talking, due to his role. But otherwise, the members should be close in the amount of time they are taking to make their points or ask new questions. If one of them is using up much more time all of the time, then perhaps another closed meeting (Brown Act violation) could be set up to figure an adjustment to what the five think would work better.”

    I think you may be on to something here Rich. And I suspect that if all the members could see their actual time spent speaking to compare to that of their colleagues, the problem of a marked time disparity would probably be self correcting with no Brown Act violation meeting needed.

  14. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]Unfortunately, this would violate the Brown Act, but I think it would be helpful if the new quintet were allowed to get together in a quiet room for a couple of hours and have each of them give and take ideas for how to run a better meeting, and if they could develop a consensus and write informal (or formal) rules which reflect that agreement, then, I think, they would satisfy the desire to get their work done in a better fashion without compromising the integrity that David Suder explained is needed, too. [/quote]

    I see no reason why the five CC members, including the newly elected, cannot talk about this issue on their retreat in July… and I suspect they very well might…

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

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