In Sunday’s paper, the Davis Enterprise endorses incumbents Alan Fernandes and Susan Lovenburg. This follows the endorsement of the incumbents by, among others, the Davis Teachers Association and the Yolo County Democratic Party.
The Enterprise notes that Ms. Lovenburg, first elected in 2007, is seeking a third term as trustee. They write, “Her tenure has been a roller coaster; the first few years were dominated by the recession and the resulting state budget cuts — which triggered round after round of painful layoffs to teachers and classified staff — and then more recently the happy task of restoring some of those cuts thanks to more stable state funding.”
They add, “She’s eager now to move forward on a variety of fronts: implementing the school district’s strategic plan, recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers, lowering the cost of employee health benefits to increase access for all, improving the mediation of conflict on school campuses and investing in facilities to improve school learning environments.”
The Enterprise quoted Ms. Lovenburg in its statement: “A lot of hard work has laid the foundation, and it’s exciting to ‘see things happening. We’re ticking things off the list; it’s refreshing.’”
The Enterprise explains, “That’s why we wholeheartedly endorse her re-election: Lovenburg is the right person to lead our schools forward. She is intelligent, articulate, respectful, gracious and compassionate. She puts in the hard work behind the scenes, then works diligently with her colleagues to turn ideas into action.
“She pays attention to detail, she’s a good listener and she’s a wise, critical thinker. She has integrity and is an ethical leader. Her solid, steady presence on the board has helped her colleagues — all relative newcomers, although Fernandes is quickly becoming a veteran — handle some difficult issues with grace and fairness.
“Our community is fortunate to have such a smart and dedicated leader as Lovenburg willing to work on our behalf. She’s definitely earned your vote.”
On Alan Fernandes they note: “Fernandes has just concluded a term as president of the board and deftly led his colleagues in establishing a culture of renewed trust and accountability. His intelligence, calm demeanor and consensus-building skills have served him well.”
They add, “But it’s his heart that truly shines through on the board. He is young and enthusiastic, the father of two boys in elementary school. He cares deeply about the well-being of every child and every teacher. He works hard on their behalf — finding the dollars necessary to hire more elementary school nurses and counselors and to better compensate Davis’ dedicated educators.
“He’s smart and savvy, principled and pro-active. He deals with issues head-on and believes strongly in transparent processes and forthright communication with the community.”
Some years this might be “game over” with the apparent consensus, at least among the establishment, to bring back the incumbents.
First, an interesting observation. The Enterprise endorsement makes no mention of the most controversial decision in the tenure of the two incumbents – changes to the AIM program. It makes no mention of the critical issue of the Achievement Gap or LCFF (Local Control Funding Formula) or LCAP (Local Control and Accountability Plan). How can an endorsement not even mention the most pressing issues facing the district?
Our assessment of the race has not really changed. While the incumbents have racked up establishment endorsements and support, one of the challengers is dominating the field in terms of fundraising – Bob Poppenga.
Bob Poppenga, in his second race for school board, has expanded upon his fundraising edge in the latest campaign disclosures for the period of July 1 to September 24. Mr. Poppenga has out-raised Ms. Lovenburg by 50 percent and Alan Fernandes by near a two to one margin.
Is that enough to give Bob Poppenga an edge here? We have to be careful. Susan Lovenburg has been on the school board since 2007 – clearly she doesn’t need the same resources as Mr. Poppenga. Alan Fernandes might be more vulnerable, as he has only faced competitive election once, and finished third.
This is going to be an extremely competitive race. Ordinarily it would look like the incumbents were relatively safe. However, Bob Poppenga looks like an unusually strong challenger.
What is interesting is how little the past four years have come into play. Recently, we had the issue of AIM, where Susan Lovenburg was among the leaders in the effort to change the AIM program. Alan Fernandes took a more moderate stand, voting in June 2015 to have the superintendent look into changes in the program, but opposing the termination of Coordinator Deanne Quinn and also voting with Madhavi Sunder to preserve three strands, on the short side of a 3-2 vote.
The other issue that has not come up much has been Nancy Peterson. Susan Lovenburg and Alan Fernandes were both on the ballot in 2012 with Nancy Peterson. Susan Lovenburg finished first ahead of Ms. Peterson, while Alan Fernandes finished third.
When Nancy Peterson resigned in March 2014, Alan Fernandes was appointed in her place. It was Susan Lovenburg who co-wrote the “move-on” article with Sheila Allen following the resignation, that many at the time felt cost Sheila Allen a chance at the city council.
Still, for a variety of reasons, Susan Lovenburg seems the safest bet of the four candidates on the ballot this year to be elected. It would appear, at least through these opaque tea leaves we have, that Alan Fernandes and Bob Poppenga are in a dogfight for second.
—David M. Greenwald reporting