Analysis: Gratuitous Cheap Shot By Local Paper in Assembly Race

Enterprise-SnubWhen Supervisor Jim Provenza endorsed Davis Mayor Dan Wolk over his colleague Supervisor Don Saylor, it was bound to raise some eyebrows. And if the Enterprise were running a column on their editorial page or an analysis of the campaign, it might be appropriate to have the blunt and subjective headline.

But on the front page of the newspaper, the headline, “Provenza snubs board colleague,” which appeared in the print edition only, seems inappropriate and out of place.

For his part, Jim Provenza, who has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2008 and told the Vanguard recently he planned to run for a third term, took the high road.

In a letter to the Enterprise, Mr. Provenza explained that there was “no snub intended with the endorsement.”

“I am writing to correct a mistaken characterization that appeared in The Enterprise, implying that my endorsement of Mayor Dan Wolk for California Assembly was meant as a ‘snub’ to other candidates,” he wrote.

In fact, in 2014, Jim Provenza had endorsed Dan Wolk over fellow City Councilmember Joe Krovoza and ultimate winner Bill Dodd. In fact, he was an early endorser back in September 2013.

Back in 2013, he said, “I have worked closely with Dan Wolk, and I know he has the experience and the skills to bring people together to represent us effectively in the State Assembly. Dan is firmly committed to restoring our public education system and making our community and state a better place for our children and grandchildren.”

Similarly, in his latest letter, Supervisor Provenza said, “In 2014, I endorsed Dan, and I am honored to again endorse him for this office in 2016. I previously supported Dan for Davis City Council and have worked closely with him since that time. I am particularly impressed by his ability to work collaboratively with diverse interests to solve complex problems and advance community interests.”

He clarifies, “My endorsement of Dan should not be viewed as a rejection of others. We are fortunate to have several qualified candidates for the Assembly.”

Supervisor Provenza concludes, “I believe that Dan will be an exemplary legislator. He has promoted smart economic development, education, environmental conservation and support for families. Dan will promote these same values as our representative in the California Assembly. I am proud to support him.”

In a newspaper article, the paper has an obligation to objectively report the news. Certainly the announcement of two supervisors supporting Dan Wolk over their colleague is newsworthy. Such a commentary might be fair game on the editorial page, but has no place on the front page of a newspaper.

Along the same lines, a supporter of Dan Wolk pulled out Don Saylor’s 2014 endorsement of Dan Wolk for Assembly.

Supervisor Saylor went well beyond a simple one line endorsement stating, “I do not take lightly the decision to support a candidate in this election.”

Among other things, he added, “I believe that Dan Wolk is well prepared to represent the diverse perspectives of the 4th District and is the right fit for us. I admire Dan’s lifelong commitment to public service and his approach to governance. He has deep professional and elected office experience at both the county and city levels in issues that have statewide significance and that are critical to the residents of the 4th Assembly District.”

Mr. Saylor wrote, “No other candidate brings both city and county experience to the table; but there is more. Dan Wolk has been an active leader in supporting strong public schools for all children and he worked as a legal services attorney helping the most unfortunate among us.”

Those are strong words, but none of those words negate Mr. Saylor’s own run for the Assembly two weeks later. Indeed, Don Saylor brings far more extensive experience in the city and county than Dan Wolk does, having served for six years on the city council (to Wolk’s 4) and four years on the board of supervisors in addition to eight years on the school board.

There is little doubt that Don Saylor holds Dan Wolk in high regard, but the 2014 words of Don Saylor are now out of context for the current election.

This is an unusual race in that, in a lot of ways, this is a match up of long-time allies. At a city-county two-by-two last year, Dan Wolk was very praising of the work of Don Saylor on county issues.

It will be interesting to see which way this election goes – sometimes similarities breed contempt. The fact that the two often supported each other, for elected office in the past, may well mean the turf battle will be narrow or fierce.

The biggest difference between the two may well be less on policy grounds than on experience and style.

The weird thing about this race is that the first punch that was thrown was not by the candidates, but by a headline in the local paper. Fortunately, with Jim Provenza taking the high road, this controversy figures to end quickly.

—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. hpierce

    Well, will make this observation. Mr Saylor ran for supervisor in the second year of his four year CC term.  He was first elected as a Supervisor at that time.  But, rather than resigning his CC seat, once elected, he “dragged out” his CC service until he was sworn in as a Supervisor ~ six months later.  Now, he’s running for a new office, ~ two years into his current 4-year term, with the assurance that he will have his current office for another 2 years @ 85K/year if he loses, or until he is sworn in to the new office if he wins… based on past performance, that will be the later of when he HAS to reliquish his Supervisor office, due to being sworn in as Assembly member, or at least until his current Supervisor term ends.  Good ‘poker’… low ethics.

    Wolk, on the other hand, has his term on CC expire in June ’16, and either will be the new Assembly person, or will exit elected public service for a period of time.  Bad poker, good ethics.

    Saylor COULD have run in ’14, but then he would have had to risk his “position in the bag”.

      1. Eskimo Pie

        One argument to counter that comparison is that Dan Wolk ran when the seat came open. Don Saylor instead waited until he had the “position in the bag” (or “free pass” as I’ve heard it called).

        Also I think Wolk and Krovoza wouldn’t have run last year if  Saylor and/or Provenza had run like people thought they would. So Saylor straight up passed on his chance.

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