My View: The Legislative Races Are Finally Getting More Interesting


Earlier this week, the Vanguard gave its race projections, seeing Bill Dodd as the favorite to win the state Senate race and Dan Wolk and Charlie Schaupp as the most likely to emerge in the Assembly race for a November face off.

That opened an interesting door with regard to machinations by backers of Independent Expenditure campaigns, trying to push Cecilia Aguiar-Curry into a November position.

Charlie Schaupp, the Republican Assembly candidate, noted that “my sources told me in the Senate race Coppes and Yamada are leading, followed by Dodd.”  While the Dodd campaign emphatically denied the accuracy of his comment, a source in the Yamada campaign claimed that polling shows the former Assemblymember consistently polling ahead of Mr. Dodd.

When the Vanguard asked to see the polls, the Vanguard was quickly rebuffed.

On Friday, the Davis Enterprise came out with its legislative endorsements backing Dan Wolk, Bill Dodd and John Garamendi.  The Yamada campaign told the Vanguard that they were told by the Enterprise there would be no interview for that endorsement.  Apparently they had made up their mind on Mr. Dodd well before this point.

The Enterprise writes, “Don’t let that avalanche of political brochures in your mailbox sour you on Bill Dodd’s candidacy for the 3rd California Senate district. In just two short years in the Assembly, Dodd has demonstrated that he’s a pragmatic politician who can work both sides of the aisle to deliver what his constituents need.”

However, the candidates in the Assembly race confirmed that the Enterprise had all five candidates, including Charlie Schaupp and Mark Kropp, in the same interview room when they determined whom they would endorse.

The Enterprise editorial leads with the Davis mayor, about whom who they write, “Enthusiasm, integrity, a willingness to work hard and the ability to collaborate for a common goal — these attributes are key to an effective legislator. And they’re what make Davis Mayor Dan Wolk so good at his job that he’s ready for the next step in his political career.”

We have to wonder if the Enterprise editors have watched the same meetings that others in the community have.  Several of his colleagues have complained that Mr. Wolk shows up to meetings unprepared, rarely having read the staff reports and, while he has done a fine job of facilitating the meetings, he rarely adds substantive comments to them.

On the integrity front, even his supporters acknowledge, at least in private, that he got rolled by the soda industry just two weeks after both publicly and privately supporting the soda tax.  Worse yet, he completely ignored calls to recuse himself from the Cannery discussion two weeks ago, despite having accepted more than $20,000 in campaign contributes from The New Home Company and its employees in his two runs for Assembly.

The Enterprise continues, “In Davis, he’s already tackled many issues that are important to our region, from renewable energy to a safe water supply, from healthy families to bicycle infrastructure.”

While that is not exactly a long list of accomplishments, it is worth noting that, even here, his actual contribution is mixed and at times peripheral at best. Renewable energy? What has he done while he is on the council?  His biggest victory on the healthy family front was the default beverage measure which is more than undermined by his opposition on the soda tax, and his contribution to bicycle infrastructure is question with his lack of support for putting a second grade-separated crossing into the Cannery.

Agree or disagree with them on the issues, both Don Saylor and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry have a far greater cachet of legislative accomplishments.  As one commentator has quipped, while Dan Wolk was removing sugary beverages from the menu of fast food places, Cecilia Aguiar-Curry was bringing in a PG&E training center to Winters.

Meanwhile, Bob Dunning argues, “I’m doing my best to be fair, because I don’t have a dog in either of the legislative fights facing Davis voters, be it for an Assembly seat or a seat in the state Senate.”  While it’s not exactly clear what that means, he continues by writing, “But every time I get a 90-page, four-pound mailer from Senate candidate Bill Dodd or Assembly candidate Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, I can’t hide my disgust at the charade they are attempting to put over on the electorate.”

He writes, “Who knows, they may both be great people who would be superb lawmakers, but the sheer volume of these mailers makes me seriously question their judgment.”

The Vanguard has had articles that detailed the contributors to these IE campaigns (Bill Dodd and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry).  Mr. Dunning is arguing that both Mr. Dodd and Ms. Aguiar-Curry are breaking campaign laws by colluding with the backers of IE campaigns.

We will explore his evidence shortly, but I do want to point out that attacking candidates for sending out volumes of mailers is a bit unfair.  How else do you reach at times apathetic voters?  If you send one mailer, you’re probably going to be ignored.  While it’s clear that barrages of ads and mailers irritate the voters, it’s also clear that they work – that’s why they keep doing it.

Mr. Dunning notes, “Of course, every fancy brochure I’ve received from either Bill Dodd or Cecilia Aguiar-Curry carries the disclaimer, ‘This advertisement was not authorized or paid for by a candidate for this office or a committee controlled by a candidate for this office.’”  But he clearly doesn’t believe it.

He notes that this campaign is funded by oil companies including Chevron and Valero.  He writes, “How Chevron and Valero got their hands on those long-ago pictures of Cecilia’s family is anybody’s guess, but someone should tell them their favorite candidate is actually standing in an almond orchard, not the family walnut farm. But maybe she was lost that day.”

He continues, “Who knows, maybe Chevron stole the family album. Or maybe they hired an undercover guy to follow Cecilia around Winters, snapping photos every time she approached a walnut tree or a piece of fruit.”

Of course, had Mr. Dunning checked he might have found some of those very photos on Cecilia Aguiar-Curry’s website.  In the days of the internet, it is not hard to find a lot of photos.  It is certainly easier to scavenge on the web than illegally collude.

Ms. Aguiar-Curry told the Vanguard that when an oil company sent her a check, she returned it.  Bill Dodd told the Vanguard that EdVoice’s campaign has more to do with the 2008 Assembly campaign and their animosity to Mariko Yamada than any support he might have for their agenda.

You know what, I believe Mr. Dodd.  For one thing, CTA (California Teachers Association) has stayed out of the race, something that would not happen had Mr. Dodd supported the EdVoice agenda.  For another, the 2008 race was bitter and EdVoice was handed a stunning defeat when Mariko Yamada defeated Christopher Cabaldon.

It is worth noting that neither Bill Dodd nor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry would repudiate their IE backers or call on them to stop.  But to allege collusion, even implicitly as Mr. Dunning does, seems to have little corroboration.

—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.

Related posts


  1. Misanthrop

    “The Enterprise writes, “Don’t let that avalanche of political brochures in your mailbox sour you on Bill Dodd’s candidacy for the 3rd California Senate district.”

    Actually this is exactly what happened with my vote.

    Another day another attack on Dan Wolk. David you are nothing if not consistent. Dan is having oil, tobacco and anti-public education forces spend hundreds of thousands to beat him. I guess he didn’t want another million from sugar spent against him too. Dan caved on sugar, welcome to Sacramento politics.

      1. SODA

        No David, I think your analysis of Dan Wolk as mayor is right on. For those of us who watch/attend CC mtgs, the Enterprise analysis and conclusion was humorous at best. He has made little contribution to the general discussions and appears to be elsewhere.

      2. Misanthrop

        The mayor runs the meetings and generally defers to the rest of the council. So what? The bigger question is who is going to use a vote in the legislature to do what is right for the people of the district and California. The mailers from Chevron, Valero, Ed Voice, PG$E and Philip Morris seem to impugn and impeach the Mayor of Winters. I guess you would prefer that Coke and Pepsi also chipped in to help elect someone whose interests in the health and safety of the people is up for sale. I would rather have someone who tried to stand up to these interests and failed than somebody who never tried to stand up to them at all.

        1. David Greenwald

          ” I would rather have someone who tried to stand up to these interests and failed than somebody who never tried to stand up to them at all.”

          And what makes you believe that’s going to be Dan Wolk? Here’s an interesting point that you can consider, for all of the talk about Dodd two years ago, can you point to a single vote he made that Dan would have voted differently? And for all of the lamenting about how Davis lost out on a seat last time, Bill Dodd gave Davis as much attention as Lois Wolk and Mariko Yamada did, perhaps actually more. So I wonder how much any of this ended up mattering.

        2. Misanthrop

          Wrong question David. The question should be about the future voting records of Wolk vs. Aguiar-Curry Vs Saylor. Now the difference between Wolk and Saylor may not be that great just as you point out neither are getting money from the drill and kill industries. But Aguiar-Curry is going to have the lobbyists for the industries that supported her visiting her office everyday. So in that regard there is a substantial choice to be made.


          1. David Greenwald

            Past is prelude. I’m not convinced that Dodd v. Wolk was a significant difference. Would Ceclia v. Wolk be? Hard to know.

        3. hpierce

          Past is prelude…

          Sometimes, perhaps often… BUT, look at the difference between Earl Warren as governor, vs. as Chief Justice; or, the difference between Harry S Truman as a Missouri political hack, vs. as President.  In neither case was “past” an indicator…

  2. Charlie_Schaupp

    David, you miss one huge point.  From what I have seen all if these IE monies being spent are groups that lean Republican or normally support the Republican agenda.  I have monitored the Secretary of State’s ‘CalAccess’ site daily as so far I have found no Democratic leaning IE’s being filed to oppose to election of the candidates the GOP leaning IEs are supporting, at least in the Assembly race.   Makes me wonder if they are conceding, at least conceding the assembly race or perhaps it’s just oversight and they still plan to act?


      1. hpierce

        That doesn’t make sense… if a candidate doesn’t make the top two, there is no “November”… what you said David, only makes sense with the “old” system… under that, a lone Republican candidate got a “free ride” in the primaries…

        1. David Greenwald

          You’re missing the point. In the Senate race, you have Dodd and Yamada, one if not both of them are going to November. So why pump money in there? In the Assembly Race, you would have to believe that Cecilia and Charlie would finish in the top 2 to exclude Wolk and Saylor. That’s assuming that Cecilia is unacceptable to the Democratic powers. I don’t see that as a likely outcome in this district.

        2. hpierce

          I reacted to your response to Mr Schaupp… (context is everything)  I also responded to his post…

          Who is MISSING THE POINT?  Mr Schaupp is running for the ASSEMBLY, not State Senate… your rebuttal to my comment is truly a non-sequitur.  Get that cup of coffee… (no sugar, of course)…


      2. Charlie_Schaupp

        David,     They are being smart…I don’t know what their polls are telling them, but if I hold the GOP and they replace Wolk in the primary they cause the decision to be  between a Democratic Pro-Business candidate and a GOP candidate.   These GOP leaning IE groups win either way.   I don’t like what they are doing…but they are being pretty smart.  My gut tells me they are trying to knock Wolk and Saylor out of the race now causing a ‘Win-Win’ for them in the fall.    Frankly I am steamed about it…they did the same dang thing last time in the Assembly race.


    1. hpierce

      Understand your point… but can also see where “Republican leaning” IE’s would support Democrats who are only within the first “standard deviation” of the bell curve, as opposed to those farther to the ‘liberal’ side… but I’m biased… I’m a ‘moderate’… somewhat ‘conservative’ in some areas, somewhat ‘liberal’ in others… we have no “tent”… neither party wants much to do with us… but those of us who have no “tent”, and register as NPP, are the fastest growing “party” in CA… driven out by the two major parties… same thing happened in the late 1850’s… gave rise to the Republican Party, and the election of Abraham Lincoln.

  3. Tia Will

    It is worth noting that neither Bill Dodd nor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry would repudiate their IE backers or call on them to stop.  But to allege collusion, even implicitly as Mr. Dunning does, seems to have little corroboration.”

    I agree that there is likely no collusion here. However, this is for me, beside the point. We have strongly Republican leaning, well financed groups backing Dodd and Aguilar-Curry. This is about political philosophy and likely legislative action, not about party affiliation or collusion. I strongly recommend that when faced with those glossy fliers, the first step should be to drop them in the recycle, the second step should be to look up the actual positions, actions, and accomplishments of the candidates, the third step should be to look at their list of supporters, and only then should one vote according to one’s personal values.


  4. Tia Will


    Your sequence is backwards.  Voters should start with their values, then the other items don’t matter.”

    I would like to illustrate how starting with your values can distort your perceptions and how important it is to go to the original source rather than relying on the fliers and endorsers before deciding  how to vote. This is a story about me and my implicit biases and how relying too heavily on unsubstantiated values almost led me astray.

    I have spoken out several times on the Vanguard against Cecilia Aguilar-Curry on the basis of her backers and her very limited responses disavowing their support and declining their monetary contributions. Today, I had the opportunity to speak directly with Cecilia in detail about her actual accomplishments ( not just bullet points, but details). We spoke in greatest derail regarding how she was able to bring significant funding and build community support and engage parents actively in their children’s learning through improved access to computers both in the schools, at the library and in their own homes. It became clear to me that these improvements were distributed equally amongst all the students in the district who were in need  and that all of the parents whose children were beneficiaries of this program were given extensive training in how to access the computers themselves to help their students with the homework and to track their child’s progress.

    It rapidly became clear to me that when she said she was for “all the students” as opposed to some select category of students, she meant it. So based on my values, and the facts including lots of details, Cecelia is back on my list of maybes. Had I decided on “values” primarily, I might have overlooked a good candidate.


    1. hpierce

      on the basis of her backers and her very limited responses disavowing their support and declining their monetary contributions

      Sounds like extremely shallow “values”… good to see that you may be listening to ‘your better angels’…

      1. Tia Will


        I am much more interested in Cecelia’s accomplishments than I am in whether she is able to “talk the talk”. She described to me a great school/ businessman/ library/  and parent collaboration to improve student access to computers and the internet.

        If you know of times when she has lied ( as opposed to times when she simply did not describe a situation in the way you would have described it ), then I am listening. Otherwise, I would toss your comment about her veracity into the same pile as your “venture” that white soldiers are being sent preferentially to non combat spots. Evidence I believe. Speculation and rumor, not so much so.

  5. Tia Will


    I don’t see it has anything to do with depth of values. I see it as a matter of evidence based decision making. She provided the facts, I provided the values. Had I valued monetary gain over childhood education, I probably would have seen it differently.

  6. Marina Kalugin

    And, my old friend David….the Yamada campaign is quietly and truly in the lead….this person, who also was declined a comment when the Enterprise endorsed the frantic Dodd.   Yamada, who has no money for signs, which get stolen, and who has Real people of true distinction on the ground working on her behalf.

    Whose name was NOT even mentioned in the many push polls pushing Dodd, and Aguilar and I thought perhaps Wolk but could be mistaken on him….

    That is the truth and please vote for the one whose name is not even being spoken… the local gal who for over 42 years has given of her time and effort….and more than 22 years in public office…..

    Mariko Yamada….she is truly one of the top two…and yet, if not for those who are working in the trenches and the many friends on HER>  side.

    There was an attempted coup at the Democratic Convention in CA>….. Dodd almost bought HIS way in …..and if you see the official election brochures there is not an endorsement…that is because Mariko at the last moment got enough delegates to vote for her……that is TRUE life and real news and it is hidden from view……

    by the EdVoice…….Philip Morris,  Chevron…Walmart…and the most vicious campaign fraud cover up yet…


  7. Marina Kalugin

    Dodd is USING his current assembly position to muddy the waters further.

    In the push polls going on now and which have been going on for some months- I actually answer the phones and engage during election campaigns – so fortunately, they called me and kept calling…
    Which push polls are to get Dodd   in the Senate and Cecilia Aguilar into the Assembly into Dodd’s position….

    In these so called independent surveys…….note that they did NOT bring Mariko Yamada’s name at all…

    I need to find out HOW to get the tapes of this scam

    They have called me repeatedly..

    Earlier when I said that Mariko was my choice MONTHS ago,,,,,,,and now the last few times they called, when I ask wait a minute why do you not even mention Mariko…they say they have to follow a script.

    THIS should be ILLEGAL>

    The scripts were to elicit responses and then rebuff….they were setting up and rebutting whatever anyone said.

    EMC Research  1-503-575-7967   is one of the companies calling.

    They tape all responses.

    If anyone knows how to get the tapes, please do so.

    I cannot believe just how sinister this one is….

    Please check your phone records and see if they called you….and try to recall what went you…

    This is the type of fraud I was eluding to….and I am up too late again after a nap…and finally had some time to review some notes..

    Thank you my friends.

  8. Marina Kalugin

    From a private FB message from Mariko Yamada….  “Oh, and the Enterprise sent me an email last week saying that they are endorsing Dodd, and saw no need to give me an interview. I guess 22 years of public service here doesn’t matter to them! ”

    Yes, I know the Enterprise is owned by Republicans….Foy is an old friend from the 70s….and I also have been every kind of party out there……but I was apalled by this treatment of Mariko Yamada…  they would not even chance a sentence for her…..

    But, now that I realized what a push poll is and so forth, it is all part of the plan….to pretend she doesn’t exist.

    Thank goodness for the DV.


    PS>  I am working on Mariko’s campaign…  I met her over 22 years ago when her older daughter was in THE Gate class with my older son…   She and I worked hard to expand GATE to all qualified children… it was not fair that only the top 30 in town were allowed in….our lives and paths have intertwined and crossed many a time over the decades.

    Last year, as my uncle was literally being killed due to elder abuse, I reached out to Mariko because my friend and hairdresser Robbie Nelson told me to….  RIP Robbie….also dead too young…

    As a gay man, Robbie had a very hard life….and if was my honor to find him a decade ago….

    Some may not understand why I go “off-topic”…it is because none of this is truly offtopic…it is real life….and shows who a person is….and why I cannot retire and still work 24/7 on issues and causes in addition to my 24/7 management job at UCD>>..

  9. Marina Kalugin

    PS>   When Dodd was not successful as a Republican to get an Assembly seat against the likes of Yamada….he changed parties…..  not that I think there is anything wrong with being a Republican…

    I have also moved in and out of that party on many an occasion…

      1. Marina Kalugin

        He ran for some offices as a Republican without luck… you have easy access to his history as a candidate….what he ran for and when , the results and which party he was affiliated with at the time….   someone, long before this campaign, had shared that tidbit some time ago…

        Dodd is still heavily supported by the same Republican interests….not that there is anything wrong with that…

  10. Misanthrop

    “And what makes you believe that’s going to be Dan Wolk? Here’s an interesting point that you can consider, for all of the talk about Dodd two years ago, can you point to a single vote he made that Dan would have voted differently?”

    SB350, the anti global warming bill, it had to be watered down because it couldn’t get enough votes in the Assembly. According to the Sacbee today Dan Morain claims this is why big oil is backing Aguiar-Curry. Probably also why they are backing Dodd.

  11. Marina Kalugin

    the dentists in town who are against fluoride do not speak out…they would not even write a letter…it is AGAINST the ADA…..and their livelihood depends on Delta Dental…

    Dan agreed with the old geezers who themselves never worked on a poor child and who were espousing the party line.

    On THAT alone, I deem Dan incompetent and elsewhere….and on THAT alone the only one who truly spoke up for weeks and months of meetings was Matt…and found that the NO was WAY more knowedgeable and truly had WORLD WIDE evidence…

    while Dan listened to a couple of old geezers and didn’t even need to look at evidenc..

    he already decided long ago, that he knew best……case closed.


    1. Misanthrop

      Adding F to water is considered one of the best public health advances of the 20th century. In the United States hundreds of millions have F added to their water supplies. If there were adverse problems associated with adding F to water we would know since the huge sample size of the population exposed. The actual measurable results have been reduction of dental carries and better dental health. Only in a place like Davis where the people think they are smarter than everyone else is there this kind of opposition to adding F to the water.

      I love the part about the dentists being too afraid to openly oppose adding F to the water. We are going to find those dentists eventually just like we are going to find those weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

      The real story is that the city council was worried that if they added F to the water the project would get voted down by the anti-vax types in combination with the anti-growth types. Only Dan had the courage to stand up for what was right on that issue.

      1. hpierce

        There are areas of the country where naturally occurring fluoride in ground water have resulted in mottled teeth, and true health issues… where it is not naturally occurring, if it is introduced at appropriate levels, it has some beneficial effects for those who have otherwise bad habits for dental care… it has little or no effect for those who have good dental hygiene.  The “Birchers” and others said it poisons the water and you shouldn’t force people to use it… the ‘poisoning’ part is BS, but the second part leads to two concepts… telling other folk what they have to do/accept (unlike inoculations, which protect the entire population) and then the cost/benefit…

        As to cost/benefit, I’d rather finance dental hygiene programs, or fund topical applications… most toothpastes offer fluoride… even with fluoridated water, poor dental hygiene will result in caries or worse… those who strongly advocate for fluoridation of all domestic water (most of which ends up being used for irrigation, showers, washing clothes, toilet flushes, washing dishes, etc.), are complete idiots [yeah, will probably get moderated here] in my opinion.  And with all that water ending up at the wastewater treatment plant, then going to the rivers, etc., EPA and others will probably require entities to REMOVE it as fish don’t usually get caries issues…

        Get real…

  12. Marina Kalugin

    the push poll was HEAVILY for Dodd and Aguilar…also attacked Saylor.

    Since I made it clear I was not for WolK, the questions steered away..

    Mariko Yamada and Kropp, the 2 frontrunners for the Senate did not get a mention.

    I a positive about Mariko as I kept demanding and asking…why she is not mentioned…

    If Kropp was mentioned at all, I do not recall…

        1. hpierce

          May give my recommendations shortly after 8:00 PM, June 7.

          Except for a “hail Mary pass” now… if you are a Republican, vote for Kasich (yeah, I know, suspended campaign)… for the first time in my life I registered Republican to do so [will change back to NPP a few days after the election]… otherwise, will have to hold my nose real hard come November…

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for