It was two years ago, when the ChamberPac made their first round of endorsements, that they created controversy. They made the decision to endorse Dan Wolk, Lucas Frerichs and Stephen Souza.
When the Chamber launched their PAC back in March 2012, they did so with a concern about “significant structural budget deficits.”
They wrote, “Parcel tax measures and fee increases have been implemented with yet more proposals under consideration to fund remaining services. Deferred maintenance on streets, water, and other vital infrastructure continue to accrue with no clear strategy to address these deficits threatening to further degrade our quality of life. Yet many community opinion makers insist that we must maintain the status quo and abdicate our collective responsibility to effectively address these challenges to our quality of life.”
As Rich Rifkin wrote on the Vanguard yesterday, “I should say I don’t feel so bad about what the Chamber has done, here. At the very least, it seems like they have matured over the last 2 years. In 2012, none of their endorsements made any sense, in terms of the ‘fiscal responsibility’ they claimed to favor. Their endorsements seemed then to be all about personalities–who Pope and Bisch liked or did not like. This time, their three picks seem to be in line with their point of view on city policies.”
We are troubled that, while the Chamber came out against Measure P, an easy call for them, they failed to take a position on Measure O. The Chamber has asked a lot from the city in terms of commitment to economic development. The city has for the first time really stepped up, whether it has been the hiring of Rob White, the reestablishment of the Innovation Park Task Force, or the general support for Chamber goals.
The Chamber has asked for fiscal responsibility and the council has delivered with a series of reforms, including the wave of MOUs that set the city on much firmer fiscal ground. After all of that, for the Chamber not to step up and support the sales tax is very disappointing.
Some have questioned the decision to endorse three rather than two.
The Chamber wrote, “We are confident that each of these 3 candidates will focus on economic development efforts to improve the quality of life in our community, create more high-paying jobs, further cut city expenses and make difficult decisions to get us out of our current city budget crisis, as well as exercising sound judgment in hiring a highly qualified professional leader to become our next city manager.”
At the same time they wrote, “While we commend John Munn and Sheila Allen for their willingness to continue their public service careers, we ultimately decided that they were not the right candidates to lead our community toward the three legs of sustainability during the next four years.”
The Chamber did not state it, but it seems clear that with John Munn they are concerned about his focus on water, away from the stated Chamber position. Perhaps they have noted that Mr. Munn has not been staunchly in favor of economic development to serve their purposes.
In Sheila Allen, perhaps their concern is her stated position that she is opposed to some of the fire reforms, or perhaps they are concerned with her inclination to benefit public employee groups as the economy turns around.
It has been a good week for Robb Davis and Rochelle Swanson, as they have captured two high profile endorsements in very different segments of the community. The Sierra Club and the Chamber of Commerce are not usual allies.
For someone like Robb Davis, striving to separate himself from his competition, these are two tremendous endorsements.
There is of course a long way to go, but Robb Davis has probably done more than any other candidate to put himself into the running for one of the two spots.
We largely agree with Bob Dunning’s analysis of the race. While it’s difficult to measure voter intentions – for instance, we did not anticipate quite the backlash against Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza in 2012 that swept both incumbents out and seated Brett Lee on the council – we have a sense of the world.
This is a difficult race to handicap. Rochelle Swanson is the only incumbent in the race. Mr. Dunning writes, “Swanson cut across a number of political lines to win her first race for council four years ago and has solid backing from a wide variety of supporters. She’s thoughtful and well-prepared and doesn’t come across as agenda-driven. Many folks in town believe she has earned a second term.”
On the other hand, I think Ms. Swanson has largely alienated (for lack of a better word) some of the progressive elements concerned about her positions on water and her land use policies. Still, she leads because she has solid upsides and fewer downsides than the other candidates.
Bob Dunning puts Robb Davis as second. He writes that “the other viable candidate in this mix, bills himself as a good listener with consensus-building skills.”
While some may cite the Vanguard’s association with Mr. Davis, who served the Vanguard editorial board for over a year and half, as tainting this analysis, we agree with Mr. Dunning that Mr. Davis is in reach of a council seat.
Bob Dunning puts John Munn and Sheila Allen as tied for third, and certainly in the race. John Munn has clearly hitched his ride to his water position. He has a strong and diverse group of supporters. Our criticism of him, aside from a late start, has been his failure to take firm positions on specifics he would tackle, particularly in putting the city’s fiscal house in order.
Sheila Allen was probably our front-runner at the start of this race. Bob Dunning analyzes her position fairly accurately.
He writes that Sheila Allen’s campaign statement touts her “active leadership during nine years as a trustee on the Davis school board,” which he states “would have been an asset prior to the board’s widely criticized role in the Davis High School volleyball fiasco.”
He writes, “Not only did Allen vote to deny Julie Crawford her head coaching position with the DHS boys volleyball team, she then co-authored an ill-advised and condescending letter to the editor telling the town it was ‘time to move on.’”
He adds, “She also seemed unconcerned about the thousands of dollars the district wasted hiring outside counsel to investigate the dismissal of a single volleyball player.”
He therefore writes, “Prior to the volleyball controversy, Allen had broad support and might even have been the No. 1 vote-getter. How much her role in disciplining the popular Crawford has hurt her chances remains to be seen, but it was definitely a blow to her candidacy.”
The secondary issue that Mr. Dunning does not touch on relates to the likely reason the Chamber did not endorse her. How will her perceived positions on fiscal issues like employee compensation play in this electorate? We should by no means assume that they play negatively. Just as John Munn has hitched his ride to the anti-water people folks, Sheila Allen has hitched hers to what she would call a more balanced approached to the city’s fiscal crisis.
That leaves us with Daniel Parrella. There will be those who look at his age, 23, and write him off. We increasingly lean against that view. We still do not see him as viable in this race, but as the ChamberPAC endorsement proves – he is young, he is smart, and, from accounts in the field, he is outworking all other candidates.
He may not win this race, this year, but he has established himself as someone that the voters and this community should take seriously.
This is now our fifth election cycle that we have observed closely. From our view, April is the month that starts to frame the race, but May is the month where the chips fall where they may.
—David M. Greenwald reporting