Poppenga Cruises to School Board Victory as Measure H Tops 71%

Poppenga Campaign Victory Party

The biggest local race of note was the DJUSD School Board race and, with all of the precincts reporting, the results show that challenger Bob Poppenga has cruised to a first place finish, finishing 1000 votes ahead of second place Alan Fernandes, who is now reelected.

Susan Lovenburg finished third, about 1150 votes behind Alan Fernandes.  While there are undoubtedly still some at-large provisional and same-day vote-by-mail ballots, our experience suggests that these results are more likely than not to hold up, which means the two-term incumbent has most likely been defeated.

Jose Granda received about 4200 votes, or 14 percent of the ballots.

Meanwhile, Measure H, as we called it yesterday, was never in question.  The parcel tax measure started the night at 69 percent of the vote and actually increased its vote share up to 71 percent by the end of the night.  It exceeded the two-thirds threshold by nearly 1000 votes.

Commentary: What To Make of These Results

In just about any other election, it would have been an easy call that Bob Poppenga would finish first.  He clearly, from start to finish, ran the best and most robust campaign.  In fact, I would argue, he ran a campaign that mirrored the ones that Madhavi Sunder ran two years ago, that Robb Davis ran in 2014, and that Brett Lee ran in 2012 and 2016.

He had the most money raised by far.  He had the strongest organization, walking most of Davis if not all, and he had a heavy letter writing campaign.  It’s notable that neither of his opponents had their supporters write letters in the Vanguard, and Bob Poppenga easily had over 30.

The problem was in the absence of polling (which, as it turns out, might not have been all bad), we had no way to know just how well he was doing.

Four years ago, we believed that Nancy Peterson would finish first and that Susan Lovenburg was vulnerable.  Instead, Susan Lovenburg finished a resounding first, Ms. Peterson would finish second, and Alan Fernandes third.

The question is, what happened to Susan Lovenburg?  Recall that early on in the campaign we warned that candidates in Davis running for a third term tend to struggle.  We pointed out that it has been awhile since a school board candidate ran for a third term, but that Sue Greenwald barely won her third term for city council and lost her fourth term in 2012.  Stephen Souza also lost his third term in 2012.

Perhaps it is anti-incumbency, but more likely it was an accumulation of disfavorable actions to various groups.  It was hard to know how deep the potential baggage for Ms. Lovenburg went.

It was she who last spring initiated the AIM changes.  Clearly, that was controversial and the question was how deep that cleavage lay.

Late in the campaign there were a couple of negative letters that tried to tie her not only to the AIM vote, but also to remind the public that she and Sheila Allen wrote the “move on” letter during the height of the Nancy Peterson controversy.  That letter was widely believed to be the downfall of Sheila Allen when she ran for city council in 2014.

Back in 2012, an IE (Independent Expenditure) campaign sent out mailers reminding voters of Sue Greenwald’s memorable blow up with former Mayor Ruth Asmundson.  That seemed to remind voters of her downside, and the letter referencing the Nancy Peterson struggle might have done the same thing.

While this was not a nail biter, less than 1200 votes separated Susan Lovenburg from Alan Fernandes, and those two issues might have made the difference.

The election now completely changes the center of gravity on the AIM issue.  Alan Fernandes was by definition a moderate on the AIM issue before – but with three solid votes in one direction, he couldn’t center the discussion.

He voted with the majority on the initial 2015 motion that ended private testing and directed the administration to look at changes to identification and testing protocols.  He opposed the termination of Deanne Quinn’s contract.  He sided with Madhavi Sunder on keeping three strands open.

In a real sense, Alan Fernandes will have the ability to completely re-write the trajectory of the AIM program.

Other issues that will be worth watching: Bob Poppenga ran on stronger approaches to the achievement gap, and brings a university experience on issues like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

The election of Bob Poppenga along with the reelection of Alan Fernandes maximizes the amount of change in board direction, and it will be very interesting to see how the dynamics change.

Meanwhile, Measure H cruised with 71 percent of the vote.  Once again, it did not receive any sort of organized opposition and it seemed unlikely that the voters would vote it down.  We felt on Tuesday morning that the board should have swung a bit higher, as the need for money is greater than the ask.

Clearly, in one sense the vote indicates that there was room to maneuver.  Given the volatility of the electorate on Tuesday, perhaps in retrospect it was wise to stay the course, but it is hard to know.

Finally, Jose Granda, for a third time as a candidate, was largely a non-factor in the final outcome.  Again, it is interesting to note that he continues to underperform the No on Parcel Tax vote.

Mr. Granda clearly attempted during the campaign to move beyond simply being the No on Parcel Tax Guy.  He clearly recognized there are not enough votes there.  That said, had he simply captured nothing other than the parcel tax opposition, he would have finished with 6000 votes, or 1600 behind Susan Lovenburg for third.

In the end, he underperformed No on Measure H by 1200 votes.  To put it another way, nearly a third of the people (at least) who voted against Measure H voted for a candidate or two candidates other than Jose Granda.

—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. Marina Kalugin

    Thank you DV for all the promo and the venue to speak out.

    And thank you Davis voters, this just proves that the average Davis voter is at a much higher level  than the National Average, and yet Ms SL was STILL trying to move her agenda forward …whatever the hell that was as it left behind the vast majority of Davis children…

    Many of my predictions have come true …thank you all  🙂

    For the others, we will have to wait and see……

    This also shows that the Electoral college IS much smarter than the average voter also.   I had kinda forgotten what I learned back in 5th grade here in the USA>..and this time is the first time I will give credit to that system.  The Bush/BO/then the Clinton election fraud machine couldn’t overturn the Electoral College…and thank you god   (though I don’t necessarily believe in that one…as my belief is that we have heaven on earth, don’t blow it….and we make our own hell…)…  and the Donald will be way better than the HRC ever could be….look at her donor list and learn the truth…



    1. ryankelly

      Voters voted protest votes. That goes for both local and national elections.  Anger and hate won.  Racism and sexism won.

      [moderator] Edited; no personal attacks please.

      1. JosephBiello

        Really, are you telling me I’m racist and sexist, angry and hateful.  I’m working my buns off to help the kids of this district.

        We repudiated anti-intellectualism, except in ryankelly’s comments.





        1. JosephBiello

          Yes, Ryan Kelly, look at all the racists and sexists in that picture.  See the hate spewing from their smiles.  Racists of many races, girls and women who are sexists?!!

          I, for one am sad about the Trump victory – but your analysis of that victory is as shallow as your understanding of education and of what the Poppenga campaign was trying to achieve.

          With your deeply offensive comments, you have demonstrated that you are not worthy of responses from hence forth.   I hope your attitude does not represent that of those you supported in this race, because that would be truly disappointing.

          [moderator] No personal attacks, please.

        2. ryankelly

          Yes, that is what I believe.  Hide your anger in intellectual rhetoric, promote your candidate as the intelligent one, and take potshots attacking the intellect of others that disagree with you, and it still is anger and hate that motivates votes.

        3. JosephBiello

          Belief and conviction are different things.

          Believers like yourself begin with belief and seek only to reinforce their belief.

          Those of us with conviction look at information and draw conclusions from that.

          I’m working to help close the LTEL achievement gap.  What are you doing, ryankelly?

          … and that is truly all I will be saying to you from hence forward.


        4. ryankelly

          You are writing letters and posting here.  That pretty much sums it up. You are lobbying to reinstate tracking in Davis schools.  Maybe not racist (though there’s evidence that tracking and segregation is all about this) but certainly classist.

        5. JosephBiello

          @moderator – with apologies.  I did not see a defense against the label of racism and sexism as a personal attack.   On the contrary, since I’m an not anonymous, I would think that  the label of “racist and sexist” is,  itself, libelous.


        6. ryankelly

          Joseph, I responded to a post by Marina where she applauded the election of Trump.  You then immediately interjected yourself into the conversation, in defense of yourself.  I can’t help that you felt that the comment was a personal attack directed toward you.  However, your defensive comments about my intellect and worth  illustrates the unconscious bias toward others not similar or in the same class, religion, race, sexual orientation, intellect, etc. that we all struggle with.  The nation as a whole seems to be moving away from a pluralistic society, whether it appears in a national policy, an election of an individual person to national office, or a local issue.



        7. Marina Kalugin

          as I said, RK was attacking me, not you Joseph…and yet both his attack and my response are gone in the wind….I have learned to ignore those who think they know it all and regardless of what evidence is presented, continue their agenda of hate against those they find not on the same page as them..oh well….nothing to waste time on ..   🙂

  2. Don Shor

    Congratulations to Bob Poppenga on a well-run campaign, and to Alan Fernandes for always bringing a note of moderation and optimism. I look forward to positive changes on the DJUSD board and in the district.

    And thanks to Susan Lovenburg for her many years of service.

  3. JosephBiello

    Thanks for all the Bob supporters and those who encouraged and understood what I was writing about.   I ask those of us who  care about the schools in this district to work constructively, not destructively.  Create, not destroy.  Float ideas and spend time to try to implement them.

    I’ll be talking less and working more because I think we need community involvement to be the wind at all of our kids’ backs.





    1. Marina Kalugin

      there are many of us former PACE leaders around Joseph….I even was trying to revive it…but got sidetracked with various life/death issues.

      We were Parents Advocating for Children’s education..  A very large group of GATE parents and UCD faculty on the side of choice for all.

      That was back in the days before email lists…and we had a phone tree….and so on..

      Some of the members have left Davis when they retired…many of us are still in the neighborhood…

      I will ask my son to go through my boxes and find the lists for you if you want…

      I even started an email list   🙂  back in April…. and the first order of business was to recall the prior super and the majority voters on the DJUSD….but I got kinda busy with other things and the super got another job just in time… so I had to zip my mouth, not easy, and wait to make sure he left…

      I also belong to a CA and National group which tried to get the word out about common core…if you google it you will learn by whom and why it was developed …it was NOT for a typical Davis child…

      I have tons of docs to share with you….do you want to take charge?

      I just moved out of Davis…and I am still on a leaseback at the Davis house until all the mail can get forwarded….

      Do you want to step forward?   my son will help you…He is now my project manager and I am paying for all of his time… he was in the GATE with Mariko’s younger daughter and Don Saylors daughter and Bob Segars daughter, etc….


      1. JosephBiello

        @Marina, I am happy to get all the ideas we can get.   My university email is easy to find, don’t want to share it here as it seems there are some very angry folks snooping around.



        1. Marina Kalugin

          rk was accusing me of being racsist and sexist etc… and he googled me, pretending to know me and posted ancient history about me to try to discredit me….I am also easy to find..  I came to UCD in 1970 and just retired on Nov 1..   🙂  will do when I get a chance…

          or was that AM…don’t recall which one..but they have both been attacking me since I showed up to defend my friends the Chancellor and the daughterinlaw who the MSO and I hired in 99 or early 2000s as a recent UCD grad as our part time undergrad advisor…who knew some decades later, after she obtained her PhD and went off for a better job, that she would return years later, fall in love and marry the chancellor’s son, right?

          I sure didn’t until I read about that in the Enterprise…

  4. Marina Kalugin

    Local always trumps state and national…that is what truly makes a difference….and that is why we work so hard on the local campaigns…it all starts with the children…right?

    one can trust those who speak their mind…regardless of how unpleasant it may be…sometimes one needs to scream and yell to get points across

    many who do not have the deductive skills and have their minds made up will push back and push back while those who are trying to present evidence get smashed….that starts to make me angry…

    [moderator] comment edited. No national politics in this thread, please.

    I want everyone to have what I have and worked so very hard for….those who label me, have no clue….

  5. Marina Kalugin

    those who live on my block voted for Bob and Alan and no on the H…I chatted with some of them last night…one is a young lady in her mid 20s who is an orphan…she was home schooled through DSIS because her parents were aghast at many things in the educational system…the others are a couple in their 50s…no children..

    They voted for Bob and Alan because I shared some things with them…they also voted for Mariko because of my sign, they said.. I was one of the leaders on the Ricci farm to Woodbridge issue…

    I spoke to neighbors…we are all family..and they had gotten their ballots in long ago…

    they said they are tired of the town taking money from them while there are  not even dog poopy bags in the parks…

    much more to share but some will say it is off topic…perhaps…but is it?

    Has my neighbor with the dog complaint ever written a  letter or gone to the council during open mic?   nah…she is too busy with her life and her dogs and so on….right?  yet she was complaining…

  6. Marina Kalugin

    Dear Joseph,

    The educational gap starts in childbirth and right afterwards…I had posted many things on the various education threads only to have those like rk bash me around and things were removed due to off topic.

    One doesn’t have to look far to see why….and I can share lots of docs..

    Those like First 5 who make money following the AMA and ADA and USDA etc agenda, are hurting the children….and so much more…

    Davis is unique, in that although Monsanto/Bayer/Dow are running much of the research at UCD, most of the faculty understand that cows were meant to eat grass, and the ruminants will get sick eating soy and corn…faculty and immigrant children like me get a step up….

    Thank you for listening…way more later when I am back out of the country…for now I have to focus on packing…I GOTV and so on… now to other things…

    1. JosephBiello

      If we are truly convinced of the growth mindset – and I am truly convinced of the growth mindset, then we are convinced that young minds can overcome the difficulties of economics and language.     We are fortunate in the district to have a small population of LTEL and so we can try to target our efforts to them.


      Believe me when I say that this is not simply about high achievers – a rising tide lifts all boats.


  7. Dave Hart

    I note that while Measure H passed with over 70% of the vote, it “failed” in 12 precincts.  In eight of the twelve, it was shy of the 2/3 vote by eight votes or less.  Hence, the importance of getting out the vote.  I also note that the four precincts where it failed were relatively prosperous areas of the school district, El Macero, Willowbank, the Davis Golf course neighborhoods.  What does that tell us?

  8. Marina Kalugin

    here are some ideas…some of these areas are new  (new golf course areas and Willowbank) and the folks that have moved in from elsewhere because prices are still a bargain compared to the Bay….either don’t have kids or have them away at better boarding schools or send them to private and or parochial schools.

    May seniors have been moving out of El Macero and Willlowbank since the latest bubble hit…

    On my block alone, on El Macero Drive..which is NOT in El Macero and the houses were built on farmland in the early 70s, and do to being near the dumping grounds of fast food, gas stations, the one liquor store and so on, the prices were way cheaper for the larger tract houses…bigger in size but worse in construction than the Stanley Davis or Streng homes…..

    within houses of me, 5 seniors have passed in recent months…( and others, a little further away, a man who grew up and also played on the toxic commercial Ricci farm also passed)…

    .and that started a huge wave of fixing and selling..

    Singles from elsewhere have moved in…they may not be used to paying through the  nose yet…some also have kids who are not school age yet, others are too old for kids and so much else.

    As I have mentioned on many a school related thread, many newcomers are not into the school scene here…for many reasons….some cannot afford to pay anything more…and others are not so interested as they clog up the roads and head out of town to their jobs and their other houses…

    it is not uncommon  for techies in the bay to have two residences…and the schools around Stanford and even SF has Lowell HS…  are are much more highly ranked…so mom or dad stay with the kids there while the commuter parent may “live” in Davis…some or all of the time weekly….

    many faculty and so on…have places in Berkeley and Davis or SF and Davis…and many who work in Finance in the city or MDs or others who do not work regular 8-5 hours can easily afford 2 houses…

    those who bared make the mortgage may want to help but simply cannot …others who can have an exemption may not care either, or like BP brings up …why vote yes to stick others with it..?

    does that seem fair?  though it now happens all the time…

    I am a senior and I voted yes…I am also heading to the countryside and I also voted yes…this time it was the correct thing to do..

    I am so thrilled that the majority is flipping to choice and care for ALL children …not just the most challenged on either end of the spectrum…right?




  9. Misanthrop

    From an earlier story on how big a parcel tax should be: “Trustees requested the follow-up survey after they were given results from the firm’s initial study, in which 71-percent of 400 likely Davis voters responded that they would support a school parcel tax at a proposed $620 for 8 years.”

    Looks like the polling outfit hit a bullseye. Sort of blows a hole in the idea that they should have asked for more when that polled too low for passage.

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