Wolk Addresses Questions About His Assembly Candidacy

Dan Wolk speaks at the 2015 MLK Day Event
Dan Wolk speaks at the 2015 MLK Day Event

With the announcement in mid-July that Bill Dodd would run for the State Senate, less than a year after he won his seat in the Assembly, the door was opened for candidates to fill his seat. Quickly emerging was Dan Wolk, the Mayor of Davis who finished third in the 2014 primary, and two-time Yolo County Supervisor and one-time Mayor of Davis, Don Saylor.

The Vanguard asked Dan Wolk five questions about his candidacy and here are his responses.

  1. Why did you decide to run once again for Assembly?

As mayor and a county attorney, I see the important challenges facing our community and region first hand: crumbling infrastructure, income disparity, unaffordable childcare and preschool, water shortages, climate change, inadequate services for seniors, students overburdened by skyrocketing tuition and debt and the lack of good jobs for our young people. I am running for Assembly because I have the skills, experience and energy to make a real difference.

  1. Are you concerned that with two Davis area candidates for Assembly, you will once again split the vote?

I am excited to have the unexpected opportunity to run again for Assembly in 2016. I have secured key endorsements in Yolo County and across the district to strengthen my position in the race. In 2014, Don Saylor gave me a glowing endorsement. I hope he will do so again in 2016.

  1. What have you learned after four years on the city council?

In addition to seeing and addressing the challenges that face our region firsthand, I have a deeper understanding of how best to work collaboratively and practically to get things done. I have built a solid record of getting the various stakeholders on a given issue to sit down and work together to find a solution. Political grandstanding and gamesmanship are pointless.

  1. What issue areas are you planning to focus on?  Also address your thoughts on improving K-12.  Making college affordable?  Environmental issues facing district/California?  Reforming the criminal justice system?  And improving the economy in the region?

I will focus on policies that give everyone in our region and state the opportunity to succeed. As I mentioned above, we have a number of imposing challenges facing our region and state – and we can make a real difference for people by addressing our problems comprehensively and collaboratively.

It all starts with education. I am the product of public schools and I firmly believe we must end the neglect of our K-12 system and dramatically reinvest in our schools. That includes fully funding our schools for the long term, providing universal preschool, so all children are ready to succeed from day one, closing the achievement gap, reducing class sizes and strengthening career technical education.

Looking beyond K-12, we need to rein in the constant rise of college tuition and control the outrageous costs and risks associated with student loans. The state must make it easier for people to attend college – not put it further and further out of reach. We must demand that our state colleges and university campuses become more efficient.

Ensuring everyone has the opportunity to succeed, of course, extends beyond education. It includes growing the economy and creating the high-skilled jobs of today – and tomorrow. We also need to reinvest in our infrastructure, from our roads and bridges, to our parks, to our water systems, to our hospitals, to broadband.

Lastly, it means ensuring we have a clean and sustainable environment, from protecting our natural resources, to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, to promoting renewable energy.

I’ve worked hard at the local level to “renew” our community; I’d like to work on doing the same thing at the state level. We can do better for our community and all California.

  1. What would you consider your biggest accomplishments while on council?

I am very proud of the many things we’ve accomplished as a community in my time on the City Council. Key accomplishments include bringing fiscal stability to the city, leading the regional surface water project through a thicket of legal, political and financial challenges, furthering economic development and creating jobs, promoting renewable energy and improving public health through the Healthy Families Initiative.

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. sisterhood

    Thank you, Dan, for your commitment to Healthy Families. As a 12 year employee of WIC, I witnesed firsthand the benefits of that program.

    I hope you are able to bring your compassion and legal expertise to the assembly & work to fix our broken criminal justice system. California has the highest rate of wrongful convictions in the U.S., and our prison system should focus on rehabilitation, not punishment.

    Best wishes for a successful campaign.

  2. Tia Will

    I also would like to thank Dan for taking an inclusive approach to the well being of our community. His willingness to champion not only the economic issues that some see as the only important issues to be addressed, but also the issues of disparity of resources, education, the health ( primarily of our children, even though not my sole concern) of our citizens, and infrastructure in a collaborative manner has been a welcome change from the dichotomous thinking and limited thinking  that can surface because it is easier to think in simplistic terms than it is to see a larger picture, especially when that picture is a mosaic.

  3. zaqzaq

    I can only hope that the Yolo vote gets split again and Dan is not in the primary and is out of politics leaving him whistling the “Davis Song” to and from work.  Politically entitled families such as those named Clinton, Bush, Kennedy, and Wolk form a new oligarchy based on privilege and entitlement.  He came onto the scene using Mommy’s name recognition and credibility and delivered fluff and controversy.  He promotes the Healthy Families initiative which was in reality a do nothing bill that has not been shown to change children’s soft drink consumption.  Now he is using it as some sort of grand achievement.  His shepherding of the surface water rates was a fiasco, resulting in a successful lawsuit costing the city money and then going back and having to write a different rate structure.  His CFD vote demonstrates that “Developer Dan” is in the pockets of big money.  The previous city manager should be the one getting the credit for balancing the city budget and imposing a contract on the firefighters union.  He joined the firefighters union in their going away party for the former city manager who was not invited to the party.  Why was he really there?   Hmmmm … .  “Dan in a Bubble” was proud of his op-ed in the SF Chronicle on the MRAP which he could not distinguish from a tank and then silent when two MRAPs roll into town at the request of the local police department.  What did he think about the use of the MRAPs in Davis?  We have not heard one comment uttered from his lips on  that one.  He suggests that we do not have violent crime in Davis yet during his tenure a mother drowned her 5 year old daughter and a high school student slaughtered an elderly couple sleeping in their home.  Concerning affordability of a UC education he wants the UC system to become more “efficient”.  What does that mean?  Selling more seats at the table to rich international students to fund the system?

    Did he really state, “Political grandstanding and gamesmanship are pointless.”  Dan is a political opportunist who has made “grandstanding and gamesmanship” an art form.
    [moderator] edited for language

    1. sisterhood

      Re: Healthy Families, I disagree and suggest you speak to some of the folks who have benefitted from this program. Or perhaps someone who has used Healthy Families services could write a comment here.

      Why do you dislike Dan because his mother is a politician and he was born into that family? Why does that make him a bad politician? How would you behave differently if your mom was Lois?

      “…a mother drowned her 5 year old daughter and a high school student slaughtered an elderly couple…”

      I’m not sure what Dan could have done differently to prevent the crimes you discussed, other than get free, quality mental health services for the people who committed those crimes.

      “…rich international students to fund the system…”

      International students’ tuition should be greatly increased, and U.S. citizens’ tuitions decreased, imho.  Many very bright Davis kids’ applications get rejected from UCD as more & more out of country students take their spots. I also feel sorry for the kids who live in Davis and want to live at home (one of my neighbors) to save money, but get rejected from UCD, then accepted into another UC. It’s almost like UCD just wants the fees for student housing, and doesn’t want local kids. I wonder how many DaVinci/Davis High students who do not want to live in the dorms get accepted to UCD?


      1. zaqzaq


        The way I see it his mother’s power and name got him appointed to the city council.  He shimmers with entitlement and privilege.  Being a good politician does not make him a good city council member, mayor, or representative in the assembly.  What are his accomplishments while on the city council?  His soda initiative was a hollow shell.  There was so much more that he could have promoted and proposed than what was in that piece of legislation.

    2. Miwok

      Are any Business leaders supportive of this guy? Are his supporters all working at public supported jobs?

      dislike Dan because his mother is a politician and he was born into that family? Why does that make him a bad politician? How would you behave differently if your mom was Lois?

      Well, it is always the kids that follow in their parents; footsteps that will come under some skepticism, just like a Body shop Owner or a Contractor. Or a Bush or a Clinton.

      Concerning affordability of a UC education he wants the UC system to become more “efficient”.  What does that mean?  Selling more seats at the table to rich international students to fund the system?

      Yes – this is the plan, although the Press releases will tell you 50% of the students have full tuition support from Financial Aid. That of course does not include the FEES that drive the cost way above the tuition, and exorbitant cost living in Davis. Being more “efficient” at the State level really means cutting back on the budgets, not making it cheaper for the students. New campuses should have been built decades ago to serve the public, but instead they just make the ones they have bigger with more layers of useless management to administer them. Most of these people are either Students who stuck around to work their way through Grad School, or relatives of the Faculty or Staff.

      1. Barack Palin

        but instead they just make the ones they have bigger with more layers of useless management to administer them

        Did you see the recent raises given to upper management?  They just don’t seem to care.

  4. Tia Will


    He suggests that we do not have violent crime in Davis yet during his tenure a mother drowned her 5 year old daughter and a high school student slaughtered an elderly couple sleeping in their home.”

    Including this comment in a generalized critique of Mayor Wolk ? Really ?  How exactly do you feel that these two horrendous crimes have anything at all to do with the “tenure” of Mayor Wolk ?

    1. David Greenwald

      And both came before his tenure as mayor. Also, there was no noticeable increase in violent crime in Davis. These incidents are anomalies, not a pattern of increased violent crime.

    2. zaqzaq


      That was weak.  Did I mention Mayor?  How about his tenure on the city council.  His op-ed indicated that Davis was known for its bike paths and viticulture students, not crime.  The worst thing that happens in Davis is a bike traffic jam on the way to Wednesday night Farmers Market.  Really, the year before we had these horrific murders.  What reality does “Dan in a Bubble” live.

      Was the horrific beating of that gay young man (forgot his name) just another anomaly.  How about the murder suicide in West Davis where our old MRAP showed up along with another from West Sacramento?  Are these also anomalies or do we have violent crime in Davis?  Wasn’t another man burned to death?  Didn’t some guy shoot himself in the head on the doorsteps of our police station in 2013?  I am sure there are others out there.  My point is that Davis isn’t the quaint little town that Dan portrayed in his op-ed.

      Do you guys feel that he is a hypocrite on the MRAP.  Makes a big deal about getting rid of it but silent when it is used in Davis.  He might look stupid addressing it?  I predicted that you would not hear anything from him when it happened.  His legislative agenda and votes have been in many ways publicity stunts to woo voters and donors in order to get elected to higher office.  For example the sports complex idea.  Not going to be a reality anytime soon but got many people in Davis excited.

      He rides his mother’s coat tails in an aura of privilege in my opinion.

  5. Jim Frame

    Key accomplishments include bringing fiscal stability to the city

    To my way of thinking, we’re not anywhere close to achieving fiscal stability.  We’ve been heading in the right direction in recent years, but the goal is still an astonishingly long way off.  And as the major players change, there’s no guarantee that we’ll continue in the right direction.

    I have no quibbles with the remainder of Dan’s responses.  They’re predictably safe and bland, but I don’t fault him for that; that’s just the way the game is played.


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