Saylor Formally Announces Run For Assembly

Don Saylor recently spoke at the Davis City Council meeting regarding the open space conservancy project
Don Saylor recently spoke at the Davis City Council meeting regarding the open space conservancy project

On Monday, Don Saylor, a two-term Yolo County Supervisor and one-time Mayor of Davis, announced that he was launching his bid for the State Assembly. In a press release sent out earlier this week, Mr. Saylor states, “Assemblymember Bill Dodd’s decision to seek election to the California State Senate creates an open seat to represent Assembly District 4 that few had anticipated.”

On Monday, Mr. Saylor told friends in an e-mail message, “I am seeking election to the Assembly to help all Californians thrive and work to make our state government make sense.  California is an amazing place.  Together the communities in Assembly District 4 are a major contributor to the global economy. I will work to build on our economic assets, steward our natural resources, invest in our future through infrastructure and education, support agriculture and food security, and strengthen our commitment to our most vulnerable populations.”

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 2014, Dan Wolk finished third in the June primary with then-Mayor Joe Krovoza finishing fourth. Bill Dodd finished first and would ultimately win the seat. It is his decision to run for the State Senate seat, held by Lois Wolk since 2008, that opened the door for a contested Assembly race for the second time in two years

In some ways, this race will be a contrast in styles.

Mr. Saylor cites his record of public service spanning 40 years, including as a local elected official for the past 20 years. He joined the Board of Supervisors in January 2011.  Earlier Mr. Saylor served as mayor and city councilmember for the City of Davis from 2004 to 2010 and as a trustee of the Davis Joint Unified School District from 1995 to 2003.

Supervisor Saylor currently chairs the six-county Sacramento Area Council of Governments and has previously chaired the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District, First 5 Yolo Commission, and the Yolo County Natural Heritage Program.

Mr. Saylor’s public service career includes the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, where he provided analyses and advice to the California State Legislature on health and social services programs, as well as performed a variety of administrative roles in education, health care, strategic planning, construction and financial management.

His press release notes, “Don has worked to build new schools, balance budgets, create partnerships, protect open space and bring new jobs to the area.”

Mr. Saylor says, “From improving 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 transportation planning, climate action, affordable housing, 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.”

Don Saylor has served as a member of the statewide Cities, Counties, Schools Partnership Executive Committee, where he “has worked on school community partnerships, food security, safe routes to school and other cross cutting issues.”

Mr. Saylor has been a founder and active participant in Yolo Food Connect, a group focused on food security and planning for an inclusive food system, and Saving California Communities, a group focused on improving the alignment of public resources, responsibilities and accountability in government. “I believe our best hope is to engage people in solving our own problems. Too often public dialogue has become polarized.  I want to help bring balance and fairness to the public square,” said Mr. Saylor

“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 make a difference in the lives of people, and built long lasting partnerships. I look forward to continuing this work statewide,” said Mr. Saylor.

Two-term Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor represents the cities of Davis and Winters, the campus of the University of California at Davis and southwestern Yolo County. He is a lifelong Democrat, and his wife, Julie, moved to Davis in 1987 to raise their children, Aaron and Kate.

The 4th Assembly District includes Lake and Napa counties, most of Yolo County, and part of Colusa, Solano, and Sonoma counties.

As noted earlier this week, this race will be a contrast in styles, but also Dan Wolk and Don Saylor are in some ways inextricably linked.

In 2008, when Don Saylor was reelected to the city council, he finished 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.

Lois Wolk announced her endorsement of Bill Dodd (and, naturally, of her son Dan Wolk). Bill Dodd is backing Dan Wolk. Mariko Yamada, who Bill Dodd replaced in the Assembly, will face off with Bill Dodd for Senate.

—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

    while i know a lot of people want to write off saylor remember a few things.  while dan blames joe, at least informally, for losing last time, he actually ran a very poor campaign.  moreover dan wolk has shown himself to be a very poor public official.  he completely lacks substance.  had he been stronger two years ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    anyone who wants to dismiss don as a candidate did not seem him in action between 2004 and 2008.  now it may be that he waited too long and he has lost his umph, but the man works hard and does his homework.  dan wolk better be gearing up for the fight of his life because if he loses this, he will not recover.  what i have seen from him so far – he has done nothing to earn higher office.  i am thoroughly disappointed.

  2. Eskimo Pie

    DP – Your vehement anti-Wolk sentiment is nothing new. But I am curious what you point to when you say he “ran a very poor campaign”, considering he beat your guy (Krovoza) by a pretty large margin district-wide.

    1. Davis Progressive

      well let’s see…  dan wolk’s mother was the senator.  so a huge percentage of the district knew the wolk name.  that was a huge advantage that dan wolk had over krovoza.  he also got a ton of money and issue adds from the unions.  another big advantage.  so yes, he beat krovoza.  he should have beaten krovoza.  the surprise is that he couldn’t beat the republican and at least finish second.  he also couldn’t beat dodd.  my comment is he should have done better than he did.  why didn’t he? it’s like arguing hilary ran a good campaign because she is going to beat sanders. she’s supposed to beat sanders, that’s not the definition of a good campaign.

      1. Eskimo Pie

        So, because he lost, given his innate advantages, he must have run a terrible campaign? You acknowledge Krovoza never stood a chance, yet he should not be blamed for Dan losing? I’m having trouble following.


        I I concur with your central premise, that Dan had a lot of advantages going into the race that would have led him to victory were it not for splitting the local vote. But how can you not, therefore, conclude that Krovoza is to blame for Dan not winning?

        1. Davis Progressive

          you’ve twisted my words, i never said krovoza never had a chance, but he was clearly a distinct underdog.  i think krovoza was a factor in dan’s loss, but dan could have overcome it had he run a better campaign (and been a better public official to begin with).

        2. Eskimo Pie

          It’s not your opinion that Krovoza never stood a chance. It’s fact. Krovoza was not a relevant factor in the race except to siphon votes away from Dan. That is evident in the final result, as well as the fact that all the big-money outsiders completely ignored him. Krovoza finished in last place (behind a 27-year-old Republican who didn’t even campaign) in two of the six counties.

          I know we’re rehashing an old debate, but it’s silly to keep calling it “opinion” that Krovoza was the spoiler and nothing more in 2014. He was never going to win, but was able to prevent Dan from winning. That’s it.

    2. Matt Williams

      Eskimo Pie, the election results at show that across all the Yolo County precincts, Wolk beat Krovoza 8,426 to 7,403. However in the City of Davis, Krovoza beat Wolk by 5,578 to 4,828. That is a clear indication that Dan needs to up his game on his “home turf.” Some quick math shows that Wolk beat Krovoza by an almost 2 to 1 margin in the non-Davis portions of Yolo County 3,598 to 1,825.

      1. Eskimo Pie

        That is precisely my point. Krovoza was only a “serious” candidate in Davis. Elsewhere, he was an also-ran. It was a district-wide election to represent a district, and that district preferred Wolk by a large margin over Krovoza.

        1. Matt Williams

          You appear to be bifurcating your prior comments equating Saylor and Krovoza. Am I missing something? Are they the same, or are they different?

  3. Eskimo Pie

    As for Saylor, he’s the Krovoza of 2016, but without many of the assets Krovoza brought to the table (namely the environmental credentials that Krovoza made a focus of his campaign). Dan Wolk has earned a second shot at this seat (once it re-opened) with all the work he did last year. He has district-wide connections now, evident in his wide-ranging initial list of endorsers. Saylor will surely work hard and have support locally, as did Krovoza. But that’s it. He’s the new spoiler.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i’m curious what you think dan wolk has done to earn a second shot?  did you watch him in action at the last council meeting?  he had a good impression of an inanimate object – which is tough to do when you’re chairing the meeting.

    2. Matt Williams

      So Eskimo Pie, you see Don Saylor 2016 in the same light as you saw Joe Krovoza 2014, with Saylor having less credibility than Krovoza. I find that interesting given Saylor’s very positive tenure as a County Supervisor, as well as his tenure on the Davis School Board prior to being elected to the City Council. I would expect that Saylor’s name recognition throughout the Assembly District boundaries would be significantly more than Krovoza’s was in 2014.

      Disclaimer, Don Saylor and I have been on opposite sides of issues many times, and I doubt he would refer to me as a supporter. I ask the questions herein in the interests of a full discussion.

      1. Eskimo Pie

        I disagree on the name recognition point once you leave Yolo County. No one in Napa or Lake Counties has any reason to know Saylor’s name. Whereas Dan Wolk was on their ballot (and in their mailbox, for better or worse) just a year ago.

        1. Matt Williams

          We will have to agree to disagree. Don has been selected by his peers to be the Chair of SACOG. There is substantial name recognition (and respect) that goes with that.

    3. zaqzaq

      Eskimo Pie states,

      “Dan Wolk has earned a second shot at this seat (once it re-opened) with all the work he did last year.”

      I couldn’t disagree more.  Let’s see what his accomplishments were.

      He passed a do nothing law on sugary drinks that really did nothing as it only applied to 18 restaurants in the city and allows families to opt out of the healthy choice.  It just looks nice and he will claim it as a major policy success.  Had he really wanted meaningful change banning vending machines that sold soda or prohibiting the sale of soda to unaccompanied minors would have been meaningful.  He also mistakingly thinks that lowfat milk is healthier than regular missing the fact that lowfat has more sugar

      Developer Dan gave a $11,000,000 gift to New Homes with the Mello Roos tax on the Cannery residents after receiving a $8,600 campaign donation.  He shows his true colors with that one.

      I curse him every time I forget a bag in Davis at the grocery store.  The local plastic bag ban was stupid.

      Stupid Dan does not know the difference between an MRAP and a tank.  He was more interested in his oped piece in the San Francisco chronicle and the coverage by the New York times than the facts on the ground.  Many locations in the district he will be running in have MRAPs and this will look like just another sillytoad tunnel or straw police station Davis issue.

      He successfully raised taxes on voters through the sales tax initiative.  How well has that money been spent?  And now he wants more for the roads.

      He has mommy’s name recognition but none of her substance.  It would be wonderful if he found himself out of office by losing again.  He has been a disaster here in Davis.

      I think Eskimo Pie’s position is melting.


      1. Eskimo Pie

        Wow. There’s a lot going on in that post. Name-calling, reference to our State Senator as “mommy”. But I’ll look past the hyperbole and try to pick out some substance.

        Reasonable people can (and have on these pages) disagree about the beverage ordinance. When you have the entire children’s health community on your side, like Dan does on this issue, I think he probably feels pretty good about it, even if it is a small step.

        Dan was joined by a Council majority in the CFD decision. Yes, it was controversial and one I don’t agree with. But the idea that it is some crazy give-away ignores the post-Prop 13 reality, and the fact that home buyers in Davis will (and have in the past) gladly pay it to live here.

        The plastic bag ordinance is now the law statewide. Davis was ahead of its time. I’m sorry you have to pay a dime now not to reek environmental havoc, I truly am.

        The militarization of police in the U.S. continues to be a major societal issue and I, for one, am glad we live in a community that rejects this trend.

        The voters passed the sales tax by a wide margin.

        You clearly don’t like Dan Wolk and you feel it very personally. You might need some anger management therapy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

        1. zaqzaq

          Danny boy is running in Mommy’s footsteps and using her name recognition.  He is a no substance pandering politician that has not solved any problems for this city.

          The CFD decision was clearly a give away.  What did the city or even those residents get in return for the CFD.  What post Prop 13 reality?  New Homes even advertised in Irvine that there was no need for a CFD/Mello Roos tax for that development in that location.  Why did they need one in Davis other than to make more money for the developer.   All we have is vague references to front loaded and improve amenities for which New Homes gets $11 million and Developer Dan got $8,600 for New Homes.  How much will he get this time around?

          Feel free to whine about the militarization of the police.  The MRAP that was rejected by the city council ended up in Woodland and came back visiting to Davis with another MRAP when the police decided they needed it.  So instead of having our own we get to borrow one when needed.  Real impressive policy decision making by Danny boy.  Had he really wanted to take a stance on the militarization of the police he could have taken a position and a vote to deny the Davis Police Department the use of an MRAP within the city of Davis.  He has not done so.  Another fluffy decision with news coverage without substance.

          And I am sure he feels good about beverage ordinance as it is a feel good do nothing ordinance.  It accomplished nothing other than to generate publicity for Dan and waste city staff resources that could better be used on serious issues such as our roads.  I am sure the children’s health community would have preferred something of substance that actually made an impact.

          I strongly suspect that he is in the pockets of the fire fighters union since he attended their going away party for the previous city manager who by most accounts did a good job.  The local sales tax was passed when the effects of the recession were still impacting local government.  I supported that tax due to necessity.  It had nothing to do with Danny.  Now I want to watch how he spends it.

          [moderator] edited for language

  4. Davis Progressive

    a secondary point is given my choice between wolk and saylor, i may well vote for wolk.  while i think wolk has been disappointing, i have a lot of problems with saylor.  on the other hand, i liked krovoza a good deal.  so maybe it’s not a good idea to be attacking krovoza as a way to bolster wolk.

    1. Eskimo Pie

      To be clear, I didn’t attack Krovoza, either personally or his record. What I continue to take issue with is his ill-advised decision to run for a seat he had zero chance of winning, and in doing so, ruin the chance of someone who could have won otherwise.

      1. zaqzaq

        What you really wanted to say is that Joe should have gotten out of Dan’s way because you are a Dan supporter.  Bet over it.  I was LOL when Joe knocked Dan out of the race.  It was a real thing of beauty with a tragic down side in that we were stuck with Dan on the city council.  I hope Dan loses again as he is not a problem solver, but is part of the problem.

  5. Don Shor

    So if Don Saylor is elected to the Assembly, how is his replacement on the Board of Supervisors chosen?

    If Dan Wolk is elected to the Assembly, how is his replacement on the City Council chosen?

    1. Barbara King

      Don, Dan Wolk’s current city council term ends in spring 2016, and the election for State Senate happens in fall 2016. So unless Dan runs for both the city council and wins  and runs in the state senate primary  and is one of the top two, then there will likely be no untimely openings on the city council to fill.

      1. Matt Williams

        Barbara, I do not believe that one candiddate can run for two different elected positions in the same election. The Assembly primary happens in June 2016, at the same time as the Council election. It has to be one or the other or none at all … but not both at the same time.

    2. Eskimo Pie

      The City Council seat will not be an issue. When election filing takes place next year, Dan Wolk must choose to file for Assembly or City Council (or neither, or something else). He can’t choose both. If he chooses Assembly, the City Council election will still take place as planned without him. He will no longer be on the City Council once his term expires whether he wins or loses the Assembly election.

      The Supervisor seat is a little trickier. Should Don Saylor choose to run for Assembly and lose, he will continue on the Board of Supervisors as if nothing happened. If he wins, the seat will be vacated and the Governor will appoint a replacement (as happened last year when Mike McGowan left the Board). The appointed replacement will then have to stand for election at (I believe) the next general election, which would be November.

      TL,DR: Saylor has what they call a “free pass”, meaning he can lose the Assembly election and keep his current Supervisor position. Dan Wolk has no such luxury.

    3. Matt Williams

      The process for filling Saylor’s seat should be the same as it was under the transition from Dave Rosenberg to Mariko Yamada in October 2003 and from Mike McGowan to Oscar Villegas in February 2014, the Governor will appoint a successor to fill the remainder of the term.

      Wolk’s Council seat will be filled by the voters in the June 2016 Council election. His seat will be one of three available in that election. If Wolk runs for Assembly he can not also run for re-election to Council.

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