by Bob Fung, CivEnergy (www.civenergy.org)
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: https://bit.ly/2k2ZJgh) 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 (https://bit.ly/2KrsjTO). 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: firstname.lastname@example.org