Positive Campaigning and Measure A

Downtown Rally photo 5

By Michael Bisch

I’d like to think that I have a pretty strong public record of advocating for the triple bottom line approach to community policy and projects wherein one focuses, as a guiding principle, on social, economic and environmental sustainability.  I also think of myself as a staunch advocate for transparency as well as fostering community dialogue.  This perception may not be universally held, but since this piece is about sharing my perspective…I’m sticking with it!

Placemaking and community building are no easy task.  It is a rare instance when a community is of a single mind.  Community members have varying perspectives, understandings of the facts, motivations, and circumstances.  This diversity is to be celebrated!  And yet, this diversity poses challenges to reaching consensus on community policies and projects.  The Nishi/Gateway project is certainly no exception.

I have supported the development of the Nishi/Gateway (Measure A) project, in general, as a walkable/bikeable, mixed-use neighborhood in close proximity to downtown and campus for many years.  And I support the specific details of Measure A, negotiated between the city and the developer, because it advances many of the Davis community’s objectives.  Measure A, for example:

  • Discourages peripheral sprawl
  • Supports Davis schools
  • Fosters a vibrant downtown
  • Reduces traffic congestion
  • Promotes a walkable & bikeable community
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Increases public parks & open space

I DO NOT share the mindset of many in politics that the ends justify the means.  Perhaps I am too naïve in this.  But for me, the means are as important as the ends; i.e. the process is just as important as the project details.  And here too, Measure A has earned my support.  Running a positive, uplifting campaign that focus on appealing to the ideals and aspirations of Davis residents is challenging!  The media market is fractured, many voters are focused on their families/jobs/personal interests, the Measure A details are complex…“No” is understandably the default position for many of my fellow residents.

If last Saturday’s Downtown Rally In Support of Measure A is any indication, the Yes on Measure A campaign has risen to the challenge.  What a terrific rally attended by a diverse cross section of the Davis community.  Characterized by positive energy, good cheer and enthusiastic chants of:

Yes On A!…Yes On A!…Yes On A!

This was Davis grassroots politics on display at its finest.  The keynote speakers were Mayor Pro Tem, Robb Davis and local pastor and community activist, Bill Habicht.  Robb shared with the rally-goers his perspective on the transparency and integrity of the Measure A process and Bill shared his thoughts on community building and fostering the common good.

We shall discover this evening whether positive, uplifting campaigning is rewarded by Davis voters.  Yes On A!

The Downtown Rally in Support of Yes On Measure A was hosted by Armadillo Music, Davis Lofts, B&L Bike Shop, Davis Commercial Properties, Sophia’s Thai Kitchen & Bar, Davis Chamber PAC, and Presidio Companies.


Michael Bisch is owner Davis Commercial Properties, past president Davis Downtown, co-founder JumpStart Davis, co-founder Pollinate Davis, co-founder Radiate Art Collective co-founder. [Note: I have no financial interest in the Yes on Measure A campaign or the underlying project.  However, Michael was the organizer of the Downtown Rally In Support of Measure A this past Saturday.]

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. nameless

    I have deeply appreciated the POSITIVE Yes on A campaign, including all the students involved in the process. It is nice to see students joining in local politics.

  2. Roberta Millstein

    So… attacking Dr. Cahill, attacking Alan Pryor, attacking people who want to vote “no” as being selfish and trying to protect their own interests… those are all part of “positive” campaigning?  Nice slick presentation, but for those of us who have been paying attention, it rings utterly false.

    1. nameless

      If the “no” side puts out misinformation, the “yes” side must respond.  Are you saying the “yes” side is not allowed to respond to misinformation/charges put out there by the “no” side?  Really? Remember, it is the “no” side that started the entire mess about Nishi potentially causing autism in children.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        I don’t grant your point that “misinformation” was presented.  But yes, both sides are entitled to critique each others data and arguments.  They are not, in my view, entitled to make personal attacks, which is what the “yes” side did.  That is hardly running a “positive” campaign, as Michael Bisch claims in the above article.

        There, in fact, are peer-reviewed studies suggestive of a link between living near a freeway and autism, and I haven’t seen the “yes” side putting forward any studies that challenge that.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          nameless, I agree that disagreeing with Dr. Cahill’s conclusions is not a personal attack.  When I talk about a personal attack on Dr. Cahill, I am referring to Rob White’s baseless accusations that Dr. Cahill’s conclusions were based on monetary incentives.

        2. South of Davis

          nameless wrote:

          > Disagreeing with Dr. Cahill’s conclusions is NOT a

          > personal attack.

          Neither is pointing out that he admitted that his air samples came from Olive Drive near the smog place, small engine place, auto parts store and mechanics NOT the center of the Nishi site.

        3. ryankelly

          It has been clarified and confirmed that there are no “links” – there is only a correlation, based on a sampling of 54.  You would think that the Davis Mind Institute would be all over it, if your suggestions were definitive, but they have published nothing on this.  Here is what they have regarding air quality: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/mindinstitute/resources/resources_pdf/Air_Quality_7_14.pdf

          I have not read any personal attacks on Dr. Cahill.  His expert opinion regarding Nishi was challenged, but I think all believe he’s a good guy.

        4. Roberta Millstein

          South of Davis, there is no “admission” there.  What he called for was further study and better data.  Instead, the City Council chose to put this on the ballot instead of waiting.

        5. The Pugilist

          I think they should study it further, but nothing in the preliminary numbers or risk assessment suggests we shouldn’t build a project there.  Especially with filtration and a forest buffer.  If we need to add additional mitigation down the line, then do it.

        6. South of Davis

          Roberta wrote:

          > What he called for was further study and better data.

          Yet the No on Nishi people almost never just say “some say we need further study and better data” but keep posting about a “toxic soup” that will harm kids and studies that say we will have more “autistic babies”…

    2. A Reality Check

      Ms. Millstein, take a look at No on A using photos of Yes on A supporters in their sarcastic photos: therein lies the difference between the 2 campaigns….one is positive and one is negative…one has class…one is tactless….the No on A “adults” at the farmers market leering and barking at the young kids- many whom have grown up in this town…  Its OK to be Yes, its OK to be No but why in the world would they post a photo of the kids like that- very mean spirited- very childish. These last 2 “articles” contents make it pretty clear….one positive campaign and one negative.  In fact, I think the Vanguard should remove that photo of the Yes on A kids from their reproduction of the No “meme” post.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        What you’re saying is that No on A is more negative than Yes on A.  Even if that is true, it does not show that Yes on A is fully positive, which is what Michael Bisch claims.  They have made plenty of negative and inappropriate claims.

        1. South of Davis

          Roberta wrote:

          > They have made plenty of negative and inappropriate claims.

          Can you list the “top three” of the “plenty of negative and inappropriate claims”?

        2. The Pugilist

          I want to hear them as well.  For me the key No atrocities were wrecking the southern entrance of town, worst project ever, we don’t need more jobs, and the student ghetto.  I don’t think anything is comparable on the Yes side.

      2. South of Davis

        A Reality Check wrote:

        > Ms. Millstein, take a look at No on A using photos of Yes

        > on A supporters in their sarcastic photos

        No on A was out in force today as I rode in to downtown after 8:00 am.

        There was a guy that looked to be in his 50’s next to a lady with a red funny hat and sparkley clogs that were going crazy waving signs on the island next to the old Shell station.

        P.S. It is funny that the No on A people that claim to want to prevent traffic back ups backed up traffic (with their crew of sign wavers) on Richards worse than I have ever seen it today

        1. South of Davis

          Odin wrote:

          > While conveniently forgetting the guy in his 60’s

          > and some kid yelling and waving at drivers with

          > their huge Yes sign at the same intersection.

          I didn’t “forget”, I just didn’t “see” any Yes on A people at Olive and Richards when I rode by…

  3. DavisforNishiGateway

    The Yes on Measure A Campaign has striven to present a positive message that focuses on the facts and merits of the project. We want to thank the broad coalition of community supporters (in addition to the more than 1,000 public endorsements we have received) who have stepped up to advocate for this project which will deliver enormous benefits to Davis. Since the very inception of the campaign about a year ago, we have worked to ensure that this is a community-driven process that encourages conversation from a wide array of individuals and institutions throughout the community. I must say, it has been most entertaining to discuss this project with the many VG commenters over the past six months or so. I hope that nobody has felt personally attacked or insulted by me, and I can assure you that I harbor no personal bitterness toward anyone no matter how vociferously we have disagreed. We will know soon enough how this measure plays out, but I want to take this time to thank the readers and commenters of the Vanguard for engaging in public discussion about Nishi. I think it has ultimately made the project better, and helped us understand where there were areas which people felt merited further explanation.

        1. Odin

          God, the condescension on here is so thick you could cut it with a knife.   You call yourself Pugilist, but your just as whiny as Donald Trump and just as timid.

        2. Matt Williams

          Alan Miller said . . . “A lot of people seem angry and bitter when they post to the comments section.”

          I was thinking the same thing.


  4. Michael Harrington

    Two more hours ….

    I think the No side is prevailing amongst the set of “townie” voters.  I just don’t know about the students, however.  Will they vote in higher numbers than usual?  Will they vote YES or NO?  So if YES prevails, I think it will come from the several thousand new registrations that the Bernie campaign signed up in the past 2-3 months.  New voters, new to town …  I just don’t have a feel for that group yet.

    Time will tell.

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