In one of the worst-kept secrets in local politics, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, just under one year into his official term, and about 27 months into his overall tenure on the city council, announced his decision to run to succeed Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.
The announcement took place at Willet Elementary School, where Mr. Wolk attended as a student and where he was joined by his family and approximately 100 supporters at the end.
“I’m not here to talk about my family; I’m here to talk about yours, specifically our children and grandchildren,” he told the crowd following his introduction by wife, Jamima. “They are why I’m running.”
“I am running for Assembly to restore the California dream for our children and grandchildren,” said Mr. Wolk. “Our state has been neglecting their future and that is unacceptable. In the Assembly, I will work to ensure we fully invest in public education, our infrastructure, our environment and our middle class.”
Dan Wolk also announced more than 60 key endorsements from community, education, public safety, economic and other leaders from around the district.
According to his press release, “They include former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, Former Assemblymember and Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson, Solano County Supervisor Linda Seifert, Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara, Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto, Yolo County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorge Ayala and Napa Vice Mayor Peter Mott.”
The full list includes Senator Lois Wolk, who is Dan Wolk’s mother; Delaine Eastin, Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Helen Thomson, Former State Assemblymember and Yolo County Supervisor; Ed Prieto, Yolo County Sheriff; Jeff Reisig, Yolo County District Attorney; Cass Sylvia, Yolo County Public Guardian; Ann M. Evans, Former Davis Mayor; Debbie Nichols Poulos, Former Davis Mayor; Ted Puntillo, Former Davis Mayor; Maynard Skinner, Former Davis Mayor; the entire Davis School Board; and 22 individuals serving on Davis advisory bodies.
Dan Wolk in his speech warned about the next generation, saying they “are bending under the weight of a great disinvestment that has been occurring in our state over a number of years – a disinvestment in our schools, our public infrastructure, our environment, and our social safety net.”
“The more we neglect that generation’s future, the more the California Dream fades. It is in danger of vanishing altogether,” said Mr. Wolk.
With Willett as his backdrop, Mr. Wolk noted that everyone “here has had a special teacher in his or her life,” but then remarked, “But even with its excellent teachers, this school, like others throughout our community and our state, is facing real challenges. California ranks 49th in the nation in per pupil spending.”
Just down the road, he continues, is UC Davis where “students have seen their tuition go up dramatically, which is pricing many out of a college education or forcing students to take out massive loans that impact the choices they must make when they graduate.”
He also highlighted the Delta, one of Senator Lois Wolk’s core issues, about which he said: “We’ve seen the Delta, including its levees and its magnificent fish, deteriorate.”
He noted, “We’ve seen public safety reduced, including right here in our own town.” He added, “We see our prisons overcrowded, with realignment putting pressure on our county jails and criminal justice systems.”
“We wonder how we’re going to afford childcare or preschool; how we’re going to pay our mortgage or rent; how we’re going to make ends meet,” Mr. Wolk said. “And I cannot begin to tell you the number of people I assisted at the Legal Clinic of Yolo County, the low income legal services clinic I founded, who were in desperate need of a helping hand.”
“As I travel the 4th Assembly District, I am hearing the same concerns,” he added. “To all this I say enough is enough.”
He called on the next generation of leadership to “commit themselves to a better future for themselves and their children.”
He said, “Now is the time for us to recommit to the ideas that made California strong.”
“How do we get there?” he asked rhetorically. “First, it starts with presenting a bold vision. To take school spending as an example, I am very happy that the Legislature and the Governor have taken increased revenue due to Proposition 30 and are providing more funding for schools.”
“But the loftiest goal emanating from the Capitol is to get us back to the national average in terms of per pupil spending. To be average. Are you kidding me?? That’s not acceptable. That’s not a goal that we should be satisfied with. That will not restore the California Dream.”
He said that he does not pretend to have all of the answers, but he thinks the people of this district do. Among others he cites, “People like Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto who is on the front lines of realignment.”
He closed, asking that “we, together, launch a campaign that is the first step to changing California. Only if we band together with common purpose, with the determination to work together, and with the resolve not to let anything stand in our way, then – and only then – can we succeed in making the changes necessary to fix California.”
He added, “Then – and only then – can we restore the California Dream.”
According to his press release, “Dan Wolk has served on the Davis City Council since 2011 and voters returned him to the Council in 2012 with more votes than any other candidate in Davis’ history. As a City Councilmember, he has led efforts to adopt the surface water project, pushed for greater investment in the city’s roads and bike paths and explored sustainable energy initiatives.”
Mr. Wolk is Deputy County Counsel for Solano County, handling public finance, public contracting and water issues.
He also says he is the founder of the Legal Clinic of Yolo County, a legal services provider for low-income families.
Mr. Wolk grew up in Davis and attended Davis public schools, before attending Stanford University and receiving his law degree from UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall. He lives in Davis with his wife, Jamima, a former professional triathlete and small business owner, and their two young daughters, Avery and Layla.
Assembly District 4 consists of Yolo, Napa and Lake Counties, as well as portions of Sonoma, Solano and Colusa Counties. It is currently represented by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada of Davis.
In addition to Dan Wolk, Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza, Lake County Supervisor Anthony Farrington and Matt Pope, Staffer for State Senator Noreen Evans, have all announced they will run for the seat, while Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd is widely expected to enter the race.
—David M. Greenwald reporting