Swanson Expands Lead; Munn Concedes

New Davis City Council: Mayor Dan Wolk (center) Robb Davis (far left), Lucas Frerichs.  Brett Lee on the far right with Rochelle Swanson to his left.
New Davis City Council: Mayor Dan Wolk (center) Robb Davis (far left), Lucas Frerichs. Brett Lee on the far right with Rochelle Swanson to his left.

Yolo County on Wednesday had completed most of its count. While it reportedly still has about 1000 provisional ballots left to count across the county, the writing is on the wall.

Robb Davis ended up with 6294 votes or 27.2 percent, just under 1000 votes ahead of second place finisher Rochelle Swanson.

The battle between Rochelle Swanson and John Munn was close. After the initial round of absentee ballots were counted, John Munn was ahead by a mere 70 votes. However, the election day ballots turned it in Rochelle Swanson’s favor.

She was up by 213 votes after election night and that lead expanded to 413 votes by the time the county stopped counting the remaining ballots yesterday.

John Munn formally conceded in a message to Councilmember Rochelle Swanson last night.

He stated, “Most of the remaining votes from last week’s City Council election were counted today, and your lead has increased.  It is time for me to formally concede that you have won the second Council seat in this election.  You have my best wishes for success in dealing with the City’s issues and problems.”

In a statement to supporters and the press, Mr. Munn said, “After today’s count of remaining ballots at the County Elections Office, Councilwoman Swanson’s lead over me for the second of two open City Council seats increased from 213 to 413 votes.  This is not what I had hoped for, but it is now done.”

“Throughout my campaign, I stressed the issues of fiscal sustainability and affordability in Davis,” he stated.  “The campaign included a candidate statement in the County Voter Pamphlet received by all voters, mailers introducing my positions to more than 19,000 likely votes, newspaper advertising, all available media opportunities, a website, and precinct walking by myself and volunteers throughout Davis.  I am confident in saying that all voters had an opportunity to learn my concerns about and solutions to problems facing Davis.  Voters obviously preferred other candidates.”

He would add, “I also need to express my gratitude to the many volunteers and supporters of my campaign.  I am not personally distressed by not being elected.  I am more troubled by the inability to carry ahead the hopes of those who spent so much time and effort on my behalf.  The best I can do now is to say a heartfelt thank you and hope that those who have been elected to the City Council will do their job well.”

John Munn was the fifth and final candidate to enter the race. His campaign was linked to Measure P, as the only candidate publicly supporting the measure.

He ran a series of ads in the Davis Enterprise which seemed to give his campaign momentum. The Vanguard, in its final analysis prior to the election, projected that between incumbent Rochelle Swanson and John Munn it could go either way, but gave the edge to John Munn.

While Mr. Munn indeed performed well, his 4893 votes fell nearly 2200 votes shy of the 7058 that voted for Measure P. Had that gap merely been 1600, he may have succeeded in gaining a seat on council.

From our perspective, as we noted earlier, the fact that he ran as a Republican and the limited nature of his campaign outside of fiscal issues perhaps hurt him at the polls. It did not help that often his answer even on fiscal issues was the need for additional study.

The Vanguard has not received any kind of formal acknowledgment from the Rochelle Swanson campaign at this point.

On Monday evening, both Rochelle Swanson and newly-elected Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis were on hand and introduced by the Davis Downtown as part of the new city council. Projections at that time indicated that Rochelle Swanson would hold onto her seat as John Munn would have had to perform not only better than he did on election day, but better than he did in the pre-election vote-by-mail ballots.

As it turned out, the election day trend continued.

—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. John Munn

    After following comments on the Vanguard during the recent election campaign, this is a good opportunity to share a couple criticisms of my own from the other side of the fence.

    First, it is amazing how people who do not know me can comment in such depth about what I think and what I know. These presumptions were most often, I think, incorrect. Criticism of what is done or said by a candidate must be expected and accepted, but it is sad to see that otherwise intelligent people will so easily jump to conclusions and make public statements about someone they know little about.

    My other complaint is reflected in David’s comments above. I was frequently criticized for not providing details or for presenting a process rather than a quick answer. If the problems faced by the City of Davis could be solved by knowing details and quick answers, they would have been taken care of long ago. Reports and details can be studied as needed when issues come before the City Council. These can be learned easily enough and do not need to be carried around to show off. But it really is going to take an in-depth study of the City’s financial situation to put in place the pieces of a real solution. This will require time, effort, and trust both to develop and to implement. As a case in point, the budget package recently made public by City staff provides little useful information for making spending decisions. So I am just going to say this and get it over with. Demanding details and quick answers at the expense of ability and experience is just plain stupid, and the City of Davis literally has and will continue to pay the price if it keeps going in this direction.

    I do wish the new Council well and have, as do other residents of Davis, a vested interest in how well they do the job that they have worked so hard to obtain. For me, it is time to get back to family projects that need doing and staying home to watch NCIS on Tuesday evenings.

    John Munn

    1. Barack Palin

      Thanks John Munn for attempting to put some fiscal sanity into the council, unfortunately I’m afraid it’s just going to be more of the same with the four returning council members and a new future liberal mayor. Being conservative in this liberal city you had a huge mountain to climb but maybe a good sign is that you came close. As far as getting a fair shake it wasn’t going to happen in this city.

    2. David Greenwald

      Hi John:

      I’m sorry you took my comments that way. I think from a political standpoint, it is a hard sell to voters to support a process without some concrete suggestions on areas where the city could cut. That doesn’t mean you have to have a quick answer.

      I would also suggest that some of the things you suggested process-wise have been done both at the city and citizen level. When Pinkerton brought Yvonne Quiring aboard, he had her spend months doing literally what you suggested. I’m not going to suggest that this is an end unto itself, but that would have been a good starting place.

      In addition there is a citizens group that has been doing much the same in search of fiscal sanity.

      I’m not suggesting that either of these are answers by themselves, but they are at least good starting points for analysis.

      Part of my job is analyze what happened in this race, and I see that as an area where you might have been able to have made better inroads. But then again, it’s just my two cents.

      1. Barack Palin

        It seemed to me that some candidates got more “analyzed” than others and in my opinion one candidate went pretty much unscathed by the Vanguard. Guess which candidate that was?

        1. David Greenwald

          Sheila Allen was pretty heavily criticized for her role in volleyball gate and her overalll poor campaign and showing. Rochelle Swanson was criticized for her largely non-existent ground campaign that turned this into a close race. And Munn gets criticized for his falling short and receiving 2200 fewer votes than Measure P did.

          If it seems that there is a disproportionate amount of criticism, it’s only because in the last week we have focused on the Munn-Swanson pairing where Munn ended up on the short end.

          If one candidate came out unscathed, it was largely because he finished first or in Parella’s case finished last and was a non-factor despite a lot of hard work.

          1. David Greenwald

            Barack: I would suggest you re-read this analysis from late May on Munn surging into a position to win a seat on council: the focus was on his positive at that time: http://www.davisvanguard.org/council-analysis-look-out-here-comes-munn/

            It was only when he did not win, that we analyzed why he might not have: http://www.davisvanguard.org/vanguard-analysis-davis-city-council-outcome/

            It’s horse-race coverage rather than policy analysis, but the tone of the coverage depends on perceived or actual performance.

      2. John Munn

        To all and especially to David,

        I was not commenting about David’s coverage on the process vs. quick answer issue, because these reports have mostly been about what others said.

        I have known about the City review and Fiscal Sanity group efforts and agree that these are starting points. But the thing about starting is actually getting somewhere, while the latest City budget document does not show much progress.

        There are things that could have been done better in my campaign (starting earlier to allow more personal precinct walking, for example), but I am not sure that these would have overcome a 400 vote difference. I really am not distressed by not being elected because I believe that my campaign provided an honest opportunity for voters to know my positions related to City Council responsibilities, and they decided to choose others. This does not make me different or hurt my feelings. I do wish that it had cost less or I could have raised more money, but this is another subject.

        John Munn

        1. Barack Palin

          “I was not commenting about David’s coverage on the process vs. quick answer issue, because these reports have mostly been about what others said.”

          Statements by others that get reported can be cherrypicked to make a point either good or bad about a candidate just as other statements can go ignored.

          1. Davis Progressive

            one thing you appear to have ignored is that in a horserace coverage (as opposed to policy analysis) winners get positive traits, losers get more negative focus to explain why. do you see examples outside of those type of analyses?

    3. Frankly

      John – I really appreciate you running. I think you have helped move the city forward with greater interest and intent to address our bloated labor costs.

      There are two contributors to our current fiscal mess: too high city labor costs, and too little economic development. My assessment of you as a candidate was that you were putting all or most of the blame on the former, and you were not as supportive of urgent economic development. I might have been wrong about this, but then you had plenty of opportunity to convince me otherwise in your response to questions that I read.

      Unfortunately, you came out connected to many of the residents with a track record of blocking growth. And in the ensuing months of the campaign, you did not do enough (for me) to convince me that you also were not one of the same.

      As you can read in Rob White’s piece in the VG today, Davis is lagging behind other cities in recovery of tax revenue following the Great Recession precisely because we have previously failed to develop our economy.

      Said another way… all cities have over-paid and over-committed to their labor force, but only Davis has the distinction of a local economy that is half the size of normal. I would have voted for you if you had convinced me that economic development was a priority for you.

      1. John Munn


        I understand your concern, and recognized it during the campaign. But it did not change my answer that business or innovation parks claiming to improve City revenue simply show how this “pencils out.” This is not, and never was, a rejection of business parks. It is simply a reflection of my approach to making decisions, which requires more information than broad statements about jobs and revenue.

        On a related matter, I believe there are other issues at play in the Nishi proposal that make it imperative for the City to be careful that it not get left out of decisions having major impacts on downtown Davis.

        John Munn

        1. Frankly

          Thanks for the response John.

          What are the impacts to the downtown? Traffic? Impacts to existing merchants? I can’t help but see the Nishi property as being part of downtown given its proximity, so I agree that we should not let the university dictate design.

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