School Board Race Too Close to Call

chalkboardVanguard Analysis – The school board race this year is even harder to judge than the City Council race was.  In the City Council race, while there was one no brainer, we failed to call Brett Lee’s victory correctly.

To this point we have seen no polls and can offer only speculation.  On Sunday Bob Dunning put Nancy Peterson in first place.  We tend to agree with this.  We don’t think it’s a huge advantage, but she does seem to have the advantage of being on most everyone’s list.  She is benefitting from both her work with the Blue and White Foundation and her work on behalf of disadvantaged students.



However, as noted it is not a huge advantage.  She also has a slight lead in the money race – again as we know from other campaigns, it’s not necessarily determinative but it’s a factor.

I have believed for a long time that the second seat will be a battle between incumbent Susan Lovenburg and Alan Fernandes.  Bob Dunning has them about even.

Both Ms. Peterson and Mr. Fernandes are ahead on money, but only by about $4000 each.  Not a huge advantage especially with Ms. Lovenburg’s five years on the board.

I’m going to break down endorsements into three categories – School Board, Council, and Supervisor.  In my view this will show somewhat more clearly who is getting what backing.

Nancy Peterson is endorsed by Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden, and Richard Harris on the School Board.  Alan Fernandes is endorsed by Gina Daleiden and Richard Harris.  Susan Lovenburg is endorsed by Sheilla Allen and Richard Harris.

So Richard Harris who is running Measure E decided to endorse all three, and Tim Taylor endorsed no one.

Of the Supervisors Alan Fernandes was endorsed by both Jim Provena and Don Saylor (also both former board members).  Nancy Peterson was endorsed by Jim Provenza and Susan Lovenburg was endorsed by Don Saylor.

City Council endorsements: Alan Fernandes supported by Joe Krovoza, Dan Wolk, Lucas Frerichs and Rochelle Swanson.  Nancy Peterson endorsed by Joe Krovoza, Dan Wolk Brett Lee, and Rochelle Swanson.  Susan Lovenburg endorsed by Lucas Frerichs and Dan Wolk (who endorsed three).

Former Councilmembers: Alan Fernandez is endorsed by Ruth Asmundson, Nancy Peterson is endorsed by Ann Evans, Jerry Keneko, Ken Wagstaff, Mike Harrington, and Stephen Souza.  Susan Lovenburg is endorsed by Ruth Asmundson, Ann Evans, and Stephen Souza.

Finally, I think while this race comes down to those three that it is a mistake to write off either Claire Sherman or Jose Granda.

In our view, Claire Sherman made a mistake in not taking campaign donations – it was a signal to some that she was not a serious candidate.  However, we are impressed with her efforts on the social networking front and think she has made good strides with free media usage.

Jose Granda is despite his best efforts a one-issue candidate, it’s a minority position in this town with only perhaps 25 to 33 percent support, but if that support coalesces around Dr. Granda as the only candidate against Measure E, he could be a factor.

However, in a five person, two spot race, that’s mathematically should not be enough to finish in the top 2, but it is enough that the claims that he was a 10,000 to 1 longshot (while obviously facetious) are probably not founded.

—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. davisite4

    Let me just say that, to an outsider (someone without any children who doesn’t know any of these people), this race is a complete muddle. With the exception of Granda, most of the candidates seem to be saying about the same things. I see lots of platitudes about working hard, working cooperatively, caring for education and teachers, etc., etc. Yet there is so much money in this race that I feel that there are issues under the surface, guiding people’s choices, that no one is talking about explicitly. That is very frustrating. Unless I can see some explicit differences that go beyond the platitudes, I’m just not going to vote in this race.

  2. davisite4

    SODA, is that what is going on? I honestly have no idea. All I know is that people are dumping money into a race with four similar-sounding candidates, putting up lawn signs, writing letters, etc. From that I infer that there must be differences that only those “in the know” know about, e.g., what these candidates really stand for, what they plan to do, what they’ve done in the past that makes people happy or unhappy. Stepping stone to higher office did not occur to me, but sure, I can see that being a factor as well.

  3. Frankly

    davisite4: it is clear to me that all but Granda are teacher union-friendly candidates. Being teacher union-friendly demands a pretty narrow and standard platform that serves to protect the status quo. Granda is the only candidate demonstrating independence and open thinking. And, of course, he is considered a pariah to those defending the establishment. I’m not sure I agree with all of his ideas, but just the fact that he has them and is willing to voice them is good enough for me.

    To make your case, I recommend that you vote only for Granda in this school board election. We need a team of new idea people, and only by rejecting those that flap their gums with the same establishment-approved platitudes, will we start to see that team develop.

  4. David M. Greenwald

    That’s a strange comment Jeff given the divide in the teacher’s union itself. Which union are they friendly towards the one in control of DTA or the one not?

  5. Shane

    I’ve been following this race now with great interest precisely because there is heterogeneity of the candidate pool. Vive les differences!

    @davisite4: the money in this race has virtually all gone to Peterson, Fernandes, and Lovenburg. Two candidates did not raise money. One eschewed the lawn signs and letters.

    @soda: two candidates (Granda, Sherman) told me they have no interest in higher office. Ms. Kellison (who wrote a comment above) is Ms. Peterson’s campaign manager, so perhaps she would like to weigh in on this with respect to her candidate? Especially check Fernandes’ biggest financial contributors — that may help you decide.

    @David M. Greenwald: While opposition to Measure E is certainly a central theme in Dr. Granda’s platform, it is far from the only issue he is running on. Speaking to him, I found him very knowledgeable about many issues confronting education and how he would address problems. I found his out-of-the-box thinking very refreshing even if I disagreed with him on his stand on Measure E, which will become a non-issue in about 24 hours, although everything else will be on the table for years to come.

    @Jeff Boone: I don’t think there is a basis for your statement that “all but Granda are teacher union-friendly candidates.” Remember that the Davis Teacher’s Association only endorsed Alan Fernandes — there must be a reason why this narrowly-focused self-absorbed group endorsed him and only him. I assume it’s because the other candidates were not perceived as “union-friendly” or at least “union-obsequious.” I agree that Granda demonstrates independence and open thinking, but those qualities also epitomize Sherman and the unique issues-oriented campaign she has run. Her postings on her campaign page, the Vanguard, and Davis Patch have been the most insightful and provocative by far whether or not you agree with them. Davisite4 should have a good look at them before claiming that “most of the candidates seem to be saying about the same things” — they’re not.

  6. Michael Harrington

    Alan was the Campaign Manager for Don Saylor’s 2008 City Council race.

    At that time, Saylor and Souza had given away every dime of the 2004 Measure S sales tax increase to their union supporters in the Fire Dept. The staff report for Measure S and information for voters stated and implied the extra sales tax money would go to the parks, green belts and family programs. The deprivation of our sales tax increase directly led to huge cutbacks in family programs, increases in fees for kids programs and classes, and eventually the firing of the tree trimmers.

    In 2008, the JPA water project was well underway, and the outlines of what was coming were clear; unconstitutional water rates, inflated project costs, heavy subsidy by Davis ratepayers of Woodlands costs, the loss of Davis’s political autonomy, and a project that was to be the crowning political achievement of Saylor and Souza, a veritable Taj Mahal of gross excesses, all to be laid on the backs of Davis ratepayers.

    In 2008, the Campaign Manager for Don Saylor had to have known all about and approved of the CC theft of the Measure S tax money that Parks and Rec desperately needed to survive, and about the foundational planning for the surface water project and the JPA Putically structure.

    These issues are why I am not voting for Alan, nice and thoughtful and personable as he is.

    I recommend Nancy Peterson.

  7. wdf1

    JB: [i]Granda is the only candidate demonstrating independence and open thinking.[/i]

    I see him as being stubborn and unwilling to concede a point and modify his position when demonstrated with contradictory evidence. Two examples:

    1) He can’t agree on budget numbers. He believes the cost of employing teachers is about $14 million less than it actually is. If he cannot establish some grounding on a very important budget number, then I don’t see him as capable of participating meaningfully in school board budget discussions. The school budget is a complex document, but it doesn’t take a PhD to figure it out. I conclude that he is just not a business guy.

    2) He presents a solution to shortfalls in district funding as starting up a local ed. foundation that will accept donations and write grants for the whole district. We already have a few key organizations that do just that, notably Davis Schools Foundation and Davis Bridge. He has never explained how his idea is different from what we already have, and I have raised this issue with him multiple times in online discussions elsewhere.


    3) I have reservations about how he sees the achievement gap issue. He thinks it all boils down to a matter of language, and because he speaks Spanish, then he can address the achievement gap in the Spanish-speaking population. The achievement gap more notably is a socio-economic issue involving lower income employment of the parents and limited academic background. Granda doesn’t indicate in candidate forum presentations that he understands the socio-economic aspects, nor an awareness of what the district has done in addressing these issues.

    In summary, I don’t see him capable of addressing key issues of budget and achievement gap. If you want some drama such as existed on the city council a few years ago, he might inject some of that, but nothing constructive. As an engineering professor, he might be good on some curriculum issues, but that’s not the major issue facing the school district.

  8. Michael Harrington

    I was thinking about voting for Liovenberg, but Saturday I learned she has no interest in Prop 37, which would require labeling of foods as to GMOs

    A Board member really should support labeling what our kids are fed at school.

    Also, my friends and I have managed to clear the water project rate increases from two election ballots that had the must-pass parcel taxes, but we haven’t received any favorable comments from her or even an acknowledgement that we probably saved those tax measures. I would expect a Board member to be more strategic in these crunch situations.

    On the other hand, she has served during very trying times for the schools, and the doors are still open and lights on, so that might be enough to vote for her. I’ll read the Vanguard and decide tomorrow at the polling place.

  9. davisite4

    Other than the fact that she has run her campaign differently, in what ways is Sherman’s platform different from those of Fernandes, Peterson, or Lovenburg?

  10. Mr.Toad

    Lovenburg is running for school board not water board. Why would she take positions on anything that would alienate half of the electorate unless she was forced? Take a position on water, why? Has anyone else running taken such a position?

    On GMO foods, why? A position on that would be unlikely to change what the voters do statewide but could alienate the substantial part of the local electorate in the biotech industry. Both Dupont and Monsanto, the two major opponents of 37, have substantial business interests in Davis. While I personally voted yes on 37 it is foolish for any candidate for school board to go there. The fact that school nutrition has risen during Lovenburg”s tenure should speak for itself.

    Mike, the one thing you are right about is that Lovenburg kept the lights on. To do so she worked harder than you will ever know passing how many parcel taxes in five years? Attending how many fund raisers, community forums, meetings of one kind or another? She has been standing out at the Farmers Market almost weekly for the last five years engaging the entire community to reach deep into their pockets for quality education, all the while being undermined, at every turn, by no tax types like Granda and Randall. She has even been personally attacked as the subject of frivolous FPPC complaints for her efforts.

    Its your vote Mike, you can spend it however you want, but I hope the community recognizes her efforts deserve support. If you want to view the world through the prism of your own personal agenda and make your unwarranted demands that candidates take positions on divisive issues that do nothing to move the schools forward that is your choice. I just hope that the voters are more politically mature.

  11. Shane

    @davisite4: the candidates are all dedicated to the children, teachers, and schools – that’s the reason you see so many similarities (especially once you take Measure E off the table). We don’t know what votes are going to be coming up for the next school board; heck, we don’t even know if Proposition 30 is going to pass.

    What you can go on is character. Who can you believe in the most to do the right thing in the future? These two articles I found for you make a compelling case for who Sherman is. I couldn’t find anything remotely as penetrating and sensitive as these from any other candidate: , page 4

    Dude, it’s election day. Just vote, and if you do nothing else, please vote for Proposition 30.

  12. davisite4

    Prop. 30 and Measure E are givens for me; the schools need the funds. Public schools in CA (K-12, community colleges, CSU, and the UC) will be truly devastated if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass.

    As for the school board, I don’t feel as though I can vote on the basis of character — these all seem like fine, upstanding citizens to me that will indeed work hard, try to do what is best for the children, etc. The way that Sherman ran her campaign is laudable, but it’s not enough to tip the scales for me.

    It’s just puzzling to me, as I said before, that so much money is being dumped into this campaign, so many letters to the editor, so many lawn signs, etc., when all of “the candidates are all dedicated to the children, teachers, and schools”. Again, it makes me think that others know something I don’t.

  13. Mr.Toad


    Its just how its done locally. Its more cultural than anything else. If you are serious in Davis politics you raise the money, buy the lawn signs, gather the endorsements and suck up to the Davis Vanguard. There is nothing mendacious about it. It doesn’t have to be that way but it is that way.

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