Assembly Candidate Bill Dodd Talks to the Vanguard

Dodd-BillThere are currently four candidates running for the state assembly seat currently held by Mariko Yamada.  While much of the focus on this side of the district has looked at the match-up between Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, the district breakdown actually gives equal weight to the west side of the district.

Together, Napa and Yolo Counties have about 60 percent of the registered voters and are on roughly equal footing, with Yolo having 32 percent to Napa’s 29 percent.

The Vanguard has interviewed Matt Pope, who has the endorsement of Mariko Yamada and Senator Noreen Evans, but Supervisor Bill Dodd represents a formidable challenger in his own right.  Not only is he an ex-Republican in a race that is so far filled only with Democrats, in a district where the partisan breakdown is 47.6 percent Democrat, 30.6 percent Republican and 19.7 percent Independent, but, much like Dan Wolk, Supervisor Dodd has an impressive list of endorsements – his from Napa and Sonoma Counties.

On Friday the Vanguard sat down with Supervisor Dodd to talk about his race for assembly.

“I’ve spent 14 years now in the County Board of Supervisors in Napa, I believe that I have the experience that is necessary, experience with results actually that is necessary to do the job,” he said.  “I have five kids that are already out of the house, my five kids have been able to live the middle class dream, but not a lot of their friends have.”

He said he has three grandchildren and one on the way, and “I’m very concerned about where the state of California is headed.”  He added, “During these tough times where there are a lot of decisions to be made up in Sacramento, that it’s incumbent on people who have the experience to step up and run.”

Bill Dodd, 57, in the last election was a Republican, and he endorsed John Munn for the assembly.  But he has switched to the Democratic Party.

“During my last 13 years on the board, one can clearly see from my votes where my values (lie),” Mr. Dodd explained.  “Essentially, issues like immigration reform, coming from Napa County, agricultural area that it is, I’ve seen first-hand the treatment of our Latino farmworkers in many regards – and that needs to change.”

“I’ve supported women’s rights, particularly the right to choose.  I have consistently supported marriage equality and equality for everybody.  I’m also concerned about the shrinking middle class,” he continued.  “It’s these kind of values that absolutely make me a Democrat and why I switched.”

Mr. Dodd describes himself as a centrist at that point and added, “I was a centrist in my previous party.  I am clearly a centrist now.  Socially moderate to liberal and what I call, fiscally responsible.”

A few weeks ago, the Sacramento Bee ran a story that “a former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger who has pledged to help elect ‘a few courageous legislators’ has found a candidate in the crowded race to replace a termed-out Yolo County lawmaker.”

“David Crane, a wealthy investor and registered Democrat who has advocated for overhauling California’s public pension system, has made the maximum contribution to Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, a Republican-turned-Democrat, running for a 4th Assembly District seat now held by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis,” the Bee reports.

They continue, “Crane and Penner founded Govern for California, a group that emerged in the 2012 election to push a pro-business agenda that includes support for charter schools and an overhaul to reduce debt of the public pension system. Crane and the others now supporting Dodd poured more than $200,000 into the Assembly campaign of charter schools executive Brian Johnson, who ran unsuccessfully for the San Fernando Valley’s newly drawn 46th Assembly District.”

The Vanguard spoke with Bill Dodd about his views on pension reform.  He explained that in Napa they achieved pension reform with both of their bargaining units, which includes a second tier of pensions which was done during collective bargaining, and in addition Napa County has fully funded their pension liabilities.

He said after discussing the issue with actuarials, “We knew it was just not sustainable to not pay down these liabilities.”

“I don’t have the answer to the problem statewide,” he said.

Mr. Dodd has declined to support more radical pension reform initiatives such as Chuck Reed’s controversial initiative that would allow the state to roll back pension rates prospectively.

“I’m not a ballot box initiative guy at all, I’ve seen what that’s done to the state of California,” Mr. Dodd said.  “I’ve specifically declined to support this initiative.  I’ve specifically declined to oppose this initiative.”

In his experience, when a controversial issue has arisen, he has found it’s best to be able to work with both sides to reach some sort of consensus on what needs to be done.

Bill Dodd added that, while Jerry Brown’s pension reform initiative probably does not go far enough, “it goes far enough if we pay our bills.”

Bill Dodd is critical of California’s job situation and worried that the state legislature does not acknowledge that there is a job’s problem.

“I think there’s two Californias out there,” he explained.  In the coastal communities of California, the unemployment rate, he said, is very low.  “But in the middle or to the east from Riverside County all the way to Modoc County, the jobless rate is really significantly greater and we need to continue the type of programs and attention to those type of programs to create new industries.”

“We have to be careful of the regulation that we saddle industries with, because those regulations cost money instead of hiring new people, they’re paying for the costs of regulations,” he added.

He sees job growth as “the source of revenue that the state” that the state needs to sustain its budget.  “Having sustainable jobs is what creates the tax base for the state of California,” he said.  He supports the Governor’s creation of a rainy day fund.  “The people of the state of California should not have to have the booms and busts,” he added.

He acknowledged that during tough times it is impossible to avoid some cuts, but added, “this has been a significant period of time where services to the public have really been diminished.”

Northern California legislators have led the way against the $25 billion twin tunnels proposal that would take water from the Delta and move it south.

“The BDCP is a giant and expensive plumbing system that takes water from the Delta and pulls it down south. The twin tunnels are a pink slip for farmers, fishermen, and people working in tourism in my district,” explained Congressman Garamendi at community forum.

Bill Dodd supports the efforts of Senator Lois Wolk and Assemblymember Mariko Yamada in opposing these proposals.

“I they’re spot on, our legislators that are against that,” he said.  “I don’t think there’s any absolute protections for our delta and absent of those, I just shudder to think of the negative aspects of spending the kind of money that we would have to spend on a project like that that doesn’t have the environmental controls.”

Bill Dodd supports current global warming legislative efforts.

He explained, “I think that the framework with AB 32 and SB 375, has really set the tone.  I know that our governments are doing more and more to adhere to the goals of the state legislature.”

“The State legislature has done it with emission regulations,” he added.  He explained that in Napa County they are trying to shift more to green power, something that Davis has been doing for some time.  “We want to see jobs created from the green industry, primarily in the solar (field).”

We also talked about creating stable sources of funding for education.

Bill Dodd argued that this goes back to the boom and bust cycle of the economy in California.  “We have a formula right now for education that when we’re able to fully fund it, like this year where education is going to get a lot more money, it works.  Obviously those years where don’t have it, it doesn’t work.”

“We have to solve the job problem (and) handle our reserves better so that key important priorities like education get handled regardless of what the economy is like,” he said.

In his concluding thoughts, he told the Vanguard, “One of the things I’m trying to get across to the constituency, there’s lots of ideas… I think what I’ve got is I have a history in Napa County over 13 years of experience and strong accomplishments during those years.”

He said he has a strong history of working with other local and regional officials “to get things done.”

—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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        1. Frankly

          Agree, but then a mouse running on a wheel also works hard.

          What is REALLY hard, is to work while you also get an education and increase your skills so you can earn a living wage instead of trying to survive on a job that pays minimum wage. I did that. I worked in fields.

          Note that I said “someone that does not want to work any harder.”

          I did not say that the person was not working hard.

          1. B. Nice

            So Frankly does that mean you support undocumented immigrants having the ability to attend our public universities.

          2. B. Nice

            I’m just wondering how they are supposed to get the education you think they should if they are not allowed to attend institutions of hire learning.

  1. hpierce

    Dodd doesn’t have a chance… he’s a self-identified moderate… he should have the guts to identify himself as a “decline to state”/independent. I am very inclined to vote for him.

    1. David Greenwald

      That’s not true in the least. In this district, without a Republican, he’s a likely candidate to reach November and there’s a plausible scenario where he can win in November. Now that becomes tougher for him if a Republican enters.

      1. hpierce

        Dodd doesn’t have a chance…

        You can’t see my tongue firmly in cheek?

        I know that I will not vote for Krovoza, nor Wolk, for very different reasons… one I hope to serve on the CC for a couple more years

  2. Mr. Toad

    He’s a “DINO” Democrat in Name Only. He was a big G.W. Bush supporter. Perhaps he is a “NARINO” Not a Republican in name only. Either guy from Davis would be better.

      1. hpierce

        Let me clarify… I think (opinion) that Joe would serve Davis interests (as articulated by ‘activists’) and would ignore the folks in the district outside Davis. If you want uber-Davis advocacy, vote for Joe.

      2. Mr. Toad

        Its a funny argument that he “Best serves the public at this point, on the CC.” If he is doing a good job then it is natural for him to try to move up since there is an opening. I do agree with the idea that he is doing a good job.

  3. You down with GOP?

    Were it up to Bill Dodd, based on his endorsements, John Munn would represent our 4th Assembly District and Rudy Giuliani would be President. He remained a Republican through two terms of George W. Bush. Now that he wants to run for higher office, in a majority Democratic district, he suddenly finds he’s been a Democrat all along. How convenient.

          1. You down with GOP?

            I’m happy to have Republicans come over to our side. But they should be a Democrat for, say, ONE election before running themselves in the new party. It’s more likely to me that the GOP has realized they can’t win in this district if they’re honest about party affiliation, so they had one of their own switch parties.

          2. Matt Williams

            Why is party affiliation meaningful?

            Siad another way, isn’t the most important driver in an election the issues?

  4. Davis Progressive

    the broader point that mr toad misses – as usual – is that the republican party has become so narrow on the social issues, that they are losing more centrist, business interested people like bill dodd, who can no longer stomach the anti-gay, anti-environmental, anti-immigrant rhetoric of the tea party center of the republican party

    1. B. Nice

      “the anti-gay, anti-environmental, anti-immigrant rhetoric of the tea party center of the republican party”

      These are the ones I was alluding to in my above post.

    2. Frankly

      TEA – Taxed Enough Already. 100% fiscal.

      And if I were to counter your “anti” rant, it would be that Democrats are anti-fiscal responsibility and anti-family values, and anti-religion, and anti-white, and anti-male, and anti-school accountability, and anti-business, and anti-success… but pro socialism, pro Marxism and pro communism and pro redistribution and pro moving the country to a big cross-dressing, drug-consuming, hemp-wearing sex party where politics and entertainment become one and the same.

      But of course I would not say these things because they are just hyperbole and largely inaccurate.

      Don’t buy the social crap arguments perpetuated by a disingenuous lefty media. It is beneath your demonstrated intellect and puts you in the camp of someone prone to unsubstantiated bias and statements of intolerance.

    3. Mr. Toad

      I don’t miss the point I just think he needs to spend more time voting like a Democrat, working for the party, endorsing Democrat candidates, donating to the Democrats and attending Democratic Party events before he wants us to believe his conversion is genuine. Until then its like the old joke, “How do you know the politician is lying?” “His lips are moving.”

      I’m not calling him a liar, I don’t even know him but someone who is a long time Republican shouldn’t change parties and immediately run for higher partisan office in a Democrat majority district and expect us to believe in their conversion. In my opinion he needs to prove himself first.

      1. hpierce

        Get a clue…

        The current Democrat and Republican parties demand more “orthodoxy” than uber-catholics, orthodox Jews, or el-quida.

        It’s time to think, preferably from a spiritual basis.

        Dad was a life-long Republican. I registered Democrat (and got to vote at 18 years, one day, the first year 18 olds could vote). Yet, when we compared notes, often, Dad and I voted the same nearly 95 percent of the time. We both voted on the merits of issues and the strength of character of candidates. I have been a ‘decline to state’ voter for at least 10 years, and yet I am unwelcomed to vote in Republican primaries, even though I may favor a Republican candidate.

        Both parties, in my opinion, are corrupt. But that is the system we have. I believe Abraham Lincoln (first Republican president), and Thomas Jefferson (arguably first Democratic president) are both spiinning in their respective graves, seeing how we are now.

        Non-partisan voters (or minor parties) are the fastest growing constituancy. Get a clue.

      2. Matt Williams

        Toad, you sound like a Gangsta … expecting the accumulation of street cred before even considering the substance of the candidate’s positions on key issues.

  5. realchangz

    So, is this whole conversation is to imply that one “party” is more “economically sustainable” than another? I don’t see it that way. Each “party” is in it to win……..whatever that means. In general, I guess it means that the current “winner” gets to enjoy a term or more in office…….but what is it that we – the people – are expecting of them? And, more importantly, what are they actually accomplishing?

    To my mind, the “parties are the problem” – strictly in it for themselves.

    The business of the people is operating on a much longer time frame and doesn’t lend itself to short-term “political cycles”. So, in that context, which will be the “best” candidate for the long term?

    Makes it a little more difficult to render those snap judgments when we start judging the success or failure of previous administrations in context of how good a job they did, and what it really means, in terms of “passing on a sustainable model for the future”.

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