Nonpartisan Advice on How to Decide Your Vote in the 2018 Davis City Council Election


by Bob Fung, CivEnergy (

The Davis City Council election is one of 20+ elections that Davis citizens can vote in on June 5, 2018.  None of the candidates are incumbents, none have held elected office, and their political party affiliation is not listed so information that voters often use is not available to them.  I think it is one of the most exciting and interesting elections with 9 candidates for 2 seats.

So how should you decide?  I have been informally interviewing voters on their thoughts and combine that here with traditional and modern nonpartisan advice on how to vote.  First, here are some suggestions to help guide you in the upcoming election if you want to decide quickly.

Accept the judgment of somebody you trust:  Many of the voters I have talked to about the City Council election have said to me, “Just tell me who to vote for.”  If you are lucky enough to have a spouse, family member or friend who is a Davis politics junkie,  they can just tell you what their recommendation is and you are set!  Or they can explain quickly who you should vote for, depending on what issues are important to you.  Fast and convenient if you know that certain someone.

Use Endorsements:  Endorsements of candidates come from newspapers, elected officials, formerly elected officials, and average citizens.  You can find endorsements in the Davis Enterprise in the editorial section, on the candidate’s websites, in your Facebook feed, by talking to your friends etc.

Trust your gut: You might have talked with friends and family about the candidates, received their flyers in the mail, read a few things in the newspaper or online.  Based on that, without too much research, you can just go with what your gut tells you.

Lawn signs:  I have had one person tell us that they often drive by the house of a person whose political opinion they trust.  They look at the lawn signs posted and then vote for those candidates.  We have heard this from multiple voters.  We guess that’s one reason why candidates are willing to spend 100s of dollars for non-recyclable lawn signs!.

If you are interested in the election, and have more time to spend researching your vote, the traditional advice (see this League of Women Voters essay:  for voters on how to decide is to: 1) understand how the candidates stand on the election issues important to you, and 2) evaluate the candidates’ leadership qualities:  Their stand on issues tells you something about the direction they will take the City if elected and their leadership qualities indicate how likely they can move the City in the directions they choose.

Here are some tips on how to understand candidates’ stands on issues and candidates’ leadership qualities.

Narrow your choices down:  I think narrowing your choices down to 4 to 5 is a good number.  There are a few different ways to do this.  You might have one or two issues that matter a lot to you.  One voter I talked to said because the only woman on the Council was going off (Rochelle Swanson), they wanted to vote for two women.  So they narrowed it down from 9 to 3 quickly.  Another suggestion is to read the voter pamphlet guide and see if any of the candidates stand out positively or negatively.

Talk to the candidates:  Talking to candidates can be one of the very valuable ways in making your decision.  In Davis, the candidates are accessible and want to talk with you in person.  You can find them or their campaign supporters at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings up to June 5.  You can attend a candidate’s event, and can learn about candidate events on social media (e.g., Facebook, Nextdoor) or on the candidates’ websites.  And sometimes they will just show up at your front door!

Research how the candidates stand on issues:  There is a lot of information out there on the candidates since the campaign started.   You can find this information any number of ways.  Talk to friends, search online media outlets for back stories, and of course use Google search.  We would like to suggest one additional method – the CivEnergy online forum (  The CivEnergy online forum has compiled much of the available information about the candidates including: short profiles written by the candidates, videos of candidate statements and written candidate positions on around 20 election issues as well as links to videos or text summaries of candidate forums, and links to written and video interviews of the candidates.  Check it out!

One interesting aspect of this election is that you have two votes for the Davis City Council.  I have heard a lot of strategizing about how to use your votes.  One strategy that people have mentioned to me is “bullet voting” where you just vote the person you feel is most suited for City Council.  My suggestion is not to worry about the strategizing too much.  The main thing is get out there and vote!

CivEnergy is a non-partisan, not-for-profit experiment in democracy.  Our goal is to help voters make informed voting decisions.  If you have any thoughts or questions email me at:

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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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16 thoughts on “Nonpartisan Advice on How to Decide Your Vote in the 2018 Davis City Council Election”

    1. Jim Hoch

      How can you denigrate local tradition like that? Basing preference on the attractiveness of signs is also a valid reason to vote for a particular candidate. Luis has the most attractive signs though most people will not know that because they have never seen one. Ezra has the most clever ones. Linda has the most distinctive color.

      1. R Fung

        If its ok to base your preference on their sex or attractiveness of a candidate’s signs, I would think it was ok to base your preference for a candidate on your dog liking another dog at the candidate’s Farmer’s Market table.

  1. Alan Miller

    I recommend waiting for the Pancakes and Politics voter guide (published here, David willing and the creek don’t rise).  [If we gets it finished before election day.]  That is, for those of you patient enough to wait for election day and use a polling booth.

    1. Howard P

      PSA… if you are VBM, and haven’t sent it in, you can wait until June 5 to turn it in to any polling place in Yolo County.   If you decide you have made an “oopsie” you can surrender the ballot, and re-vote in your home precinct.  This PSA provided by someone who has worked the polls many years, and who is following (has followed) his own advice…

      Please vote… if you don’t, you have lost, in my opinion, any right to complain about the results (unless of course you arestatutorily precluded from voting)… I care not which way, but I do have my preferences for my votes I will cast.

      1. Tia Will


        Thanks for the tips and the advice to vote.

        I felt so strongly about this that when my kids became old enough to vote, I told them that my ongoing financial support had only two strings attached. They had to be engaging in some full time activity. School, work, volunteer activity, combination thereof….some form of contribution.

        And they had to vote. They didn’t have to vote my way. But they did have to vote.

  2. PhilColeman

    Amend this guideline with the following sub-title:

    If you don’t have a heart or soul, don’t have the time, don’t have a brain, and don’t care, read this. 

    Otherwise you’ve wasted both your brain and time reading this story.

    1. Tia Will


      I consider you a thoughtful poster on the Vanguard. However, I think you are making a common error of thought process represented by this comment. I believe you are commenting from the perspective that others do, or should, function in the world as you do. Many of us do not, either because of temporary distractions such as residency + childbearing at the same time, or because of a lifelong pattern of not engaging in public affairs. None of this makes others “heartless, brainless or soulless”.

      This guide was not intended for you, but for those who engage the world very differently than you do and who made need a little nudge in order to engage on a different level.

  3. R Fung

    Over the last few months, I have been talking to many Davis people about the Davis City Council race.  There are the people who participate in some way in Davis politics: they comment on the Vanguard or attend Davis City Council meetings or are on a commission.  They know what the issues are and typically have strong feelings about several of them.  They have met the candidates or heard them speak at City Council or read their comments on the Vanguard or have gone to one or more of the many candidate forums that were held in the last few months.

    But then there is the average citizen which is probably 80%+ of citizens.   In their daily lives, they go to work, take care of their kids, exercise etc.  They don’t think about Davis politics on a daily basis.  One older gentleman who I know who had been heavily involved in Davis politics at one time said to me “9 candidates, that’s too many,  tell me how to vote” or one middle-aged woman said about a month ago “I don’t know anything about the Davis City Council election.  I’ll look some things up when I have to vote”.  With 20+ elections on the ballot I guess for the average citizen that put maybe 10-20 minutes into finding out about the candidates over about a month I guess.  That’s not enough time to even understand one issue – say the $8 million/year deficit that the City is quoting wrt Measure H, and Measure I.

    And I guess Davis voters are probably on the whole better informed than in many parts of the country.  So what do average people do?  They don’t vote.   Or they take cognitive shortcuts, the fancy name is “heuristics” to make a decision.  The idea of this guide is to tell the average voter,  “Hey, if you don’t have the time to become well-informed, here’s a few things you can do to make an ok decision”.  And if you want to become well-informed we have tried to put alot of the information you need in one place to make it as easy as possible” .

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