Dodd’s Move to Senate Opens the Door for Wolk, Saylor to Run for Assembly

Don Saylor and Dan Wolk both participated in John Garamendi's oil train safety press conference in April
Don Saylor and Dan Wolk both participated in John Garamendi’s oil train safety press conference in April

When Assemblymember Bill Dodd announced that he would seek the State Senate held by Lois Wolk since 2008, it opened the door for a contested Assembly race for the second time in two years. And for the second consecutive time, two Davis politicians appear ready to do battle, as both Supervisor Don Saylor and Davis Mayor Dan Wolk announced on Monday they would seek the now-vacated Assembly seat that spans six counties.

In some ways, it is a contrast in styles. And, in another way, the two are inextricably linked.

Don Saylor has been in politics for 20 years. He won a seat on the school board in 1995, his second attempt.   He then, after his term expired in 2003, ran and won a seat on the city council in 2004.

In 2008, he was reelected, this time finishing first. However, before he could serve as mayor, he announced a run for the county supervisor position vacated by former Assemblymember Helen Thomson. He won that uncontested election in June, then took over as mayor from July until he resigned in January to join the Board of Supervisors. He then won reelection as, again, no one challenged him.

In the meantime, it was Dan Wolk, son of the current Senator – who had also served as Mayor of Davis, a member of the County Board of Supervisors, and Assemblymember – who would win appointment to the city council through the vacancy left by Don Saylor’s departure. He beat out an eight-person field to win unanimous approval in February of 2011.

In June 2012, he ran for the council seat in his own right, finishing first in all of the precincts. Before he could be seated as mayor in July 2014, he ran and finished third for the State Assembly seat that Bill Dodd would ultimately win.

Yesterday, with Bill Dodd moving on for a Senate run against former Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, Dan Wolk and Don Saylor announced they would both seek the Assembly seat.

In his brief announcement, Dan Wolk stated he had endorsements from more than 20 local elected leaders.

Mayor Dan Wolk expressed his support for the Congressman's efforts
Mayor Dan Wolk expressed his support for the Congressman’s efforts

“I am running for Assembly to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” said Dan Wolk. “As mayor and a county attorney, I have seen the challenges facing our region firsthand – in Sacramento, I will fight tirelessly and collaboratively to address them.”

Mr. Wolk also outlined some of his top priorities, including fighting for the middle class, growing the local economy, ensuring a resilient water supply, protecting natural resources and guaranteeing access to quality education for California’s students.

Mr. Wolk begins his campaign with support from more than 20 elected officials from around the district. They include Napa County Supervisors Diane Dillon and Mark Luce, Solano County Supervisors Jim Spering and John Vasquez, and Yolo County Supervisor Oscar Villegas.

Locally, he claims support from colleagues on the Davis City Council Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson, along with Madhavi Sunder.

The press release goes on to state, “Currently serving as Mayor, Wolk has been on the Davis City Council since 2011. In that time, he has led efforts to construct a regional surface water project, pushed for greater investment in streets, parks and other vital infrastructure, promoted renewable energy initiatives and has passed fiscally responsible city budgets, while restoring the city’s rainy day reserves.”

Dan Wolk works as a Deputy County Counsel for Solano County, handling public finance, public contracting and water issues. He is also the founder of the Legal Clinic of Yolo County, a legal services provider for low-income families. Wolk grew up in Davis and attended local 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 daughters, Avery and Layla.

Assembly District 4 consists of Napa and Lake Counties and most of Yolo County, as well as portions of Sonoma, Solano and Colusa Counties.

The Vanguard will have a follow up interview with Mr. Wolk later in the week.

Supervisor Don Saylor warned that 5000 residents of Davis are potentially in harms way
Supervisor Don Saylor warned that 5000 residents of Davis are potentially in harm’s way

In the meantime, earlier in the day, Supervisor Don Saylor sent out a message to supporters stating, “I am excited to tell you that I have decided to seek election to the California State Assembly (Assembly District 4) in the June 2016 Primary Election. “

“My commitment to public service spans over 40 years, including service as a local elected official for the past 20 years. I was elected in 1995 and 1999 to the Davis School Board, in 2004 and 2008 to the Davis City Council, and in 2010 and 2014 to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors,” he continued.

Don Saylor stated, “From improving our local schools to tackling juvenile delinquency in California, I have been on the front lines. As a county supervisor, I have worked with leaders across the region on long term planning, climate action, affordable health care and mental health services, access to healthy food, transportation and improving our water supply. As a city council member, I helped launch economic development and innovation strategies.”

He added, “I am proud of the work we have done together for our community, county and region. At each step along the way, I have gained valuable perspectives, worked hard to add value and built long lasting partnerships. I look forward to applying these lessons to serve you on another stage.”

“California is an amazing place,” he concluded. “Our region is rising as a major contributor to the global economy. I am compelled to seek election to the Assembly to help all Californians thrive. I will work for you to build on our economic assets, steward our natural resources, invest in our future through infrastructure and education, and strengthen our commitment to our most vulnerable populations. Too often public dialogue has become polarized. I want to help bring balance and fairness to the public square.”

The Vanguard requested an interview with Mr. Saylor but has not heard back as of press time.

—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. Davis Progressive

    here we go – game on.  despite the saylor-wolk match up, i don’t see this being a repeat of 2014 because i don’t think don is nearly as formidable at this point as joe was.  could be wrong.

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