In 2010 and 2012, during the heart of the recession, there was no talk about housing and land use issues during the council campaigns. The focus was on fiscal issues for the most part. Measure R, the 10-year renewal of Measure J, which established voting requirements for housing developments on the periphery, passed with 70-plus percentage of the vote and without any organized opposition.
For the past few years, we have focused overwhelmingly on housing issues. Nishi remains one of the hot topics, but an emerging issue will be the renewal of Measure R in 2020. Whoever is elected this time to council will help determine whether Measure R is put on the ballot as is, comes up at all, or whether there is a discussion of modifications.
Our analysis of this race remains similar to how it has been for the last several weeks. With nine candidates and a possible low turnout, there is a high degree of variability. In our view, however, Dan Carson remains the presumptive frontrunner, with our belief that one of Linda Deos, Mary Jo Bryan or Gloria Partida will be in the first tier to battle for second.
There would seem to be paths by which Larry Guenther, Ezra Beeman and/or Eric Gudz could finish second.
At this time, once again, we believe that Mark West and Luis Rios are running eighth and ninth.
Here’s our candidate by candidate breakdown:
Dan Carson: If there is a frontrunner here it is Dan Carson. Since 2008, the person that raised the most money has gotten a seat on the city council. In fact, Don Saylor, Joe Krovoza, Robb Davis have all led the way in fundraising and finished first. The one exception was Lucas Frerichs in 2012 and 2016, who led the way in fundraising but finished second both times. We see no reason that this will change this time, although I agree with those who argue that Dan Carson, if anything, has committed overkill with his $40,000 in campaign funds. The amount of money compared to the other candidates labels Mr. Carson, fairly or unfairly, as the Establishment candidate.
On housing, Dan Carson has been mostly solidly in support of more housing, supporting Nishi in 2016 and 2018. He has been a supporter of Measure R, and remains one. A reader pointed out, however, that he was a member of the West Davis group that sued the university on West Village, and one of the results of that is the lack of access by that development to Russell Boulevard.
The establishment has coalesced around Mr. Carson – he has most of the big endorsements, and has an impressive list of individual endorsements. He may not be a lock-in to finish first, but it would be a considerable surprise at this point if he does not come in first.
Linda Deos: She had a little bit of a rocky start, but has seemed to have righted herself. She seems to take a pragmatic approach to housing – supporting some projects like Nishi, but opposing others. That’s by design. She also took a measured position on Measure R, eventually supporting the measure but telling the Vanguard if Nishi and West Davis Active Adult community fail, we would have to reevaluate things.
After Dan Carson, campaign fundraising is bunched up, but she’s clearly in the next tier of fundraising. We give her a slight edge for second, but it’s really too close to call.
Mary Jo Bryan: She got a bit of a late start to the campaign, apparently owing to an illness she suffered at the end of 2017. She turns 76 the day after the election, making her by far the oldest candidate in the field, but she has run strongly this year on the basis of the senior housing and really broader, affordable housing issues. Some people think she has made a big push and could be in second place at this time. I still give Linda Deos a slight edge here, but she has a long and well-respected history in this community. Her endorsement letters in the newspaper over the past week from former Mayor Ann Evans, as well as former Supervisors Betsy Marchand, Helen Thompson and Lois Wolk, who all worked with her when they all were in the Yolo County Supervisors Office, is testament to that long history.
Gloria Partida: Gloria Partida was the best known of the candidates going into this election. If pressed in November, I would have called her the clear frontrunner. I don’t think she is there at this point, but she still has a solid chance at second. She a strong supporter of housing, concerned that our land use policies have led to changes to this community. She has argued that, while she supports Measure R, she believes it “needs to be modified.” Gloria does not list endorsements in print, but the ones that have been given verbally are solid as well.
Larry Guenther and Ezra Beeman: I put these two together here, because they are tied together not just because they are the only two opposing Nishi in its current form, but also because they probably share the most common linkage between any of the candidates. They are hard to assess because of this. Back in 2000, Susie Boyd was the only candidate that opposed Measure J and she ended up winning even though Measure J passed narrowly. Could something similar happen here in a nine person race? It’s conceivable, but right now I am not predicting that. It is hard to know how much traction they are getting outside of the core area. Looking at their money, both having loaned themselves a good chunk of their money – is that suggestive of limited support, the fact that both work full time at demanding jobs, or anything? Hard to know. Right now I see them in the second tier, but they have a path to victory that is coupled with a strong showing by No on Nishi and a strong linkage to the opposition to that project.
Eric Gudz: Eric Gudz clearly does not like it, but it is difficult right now to see them with a path to victory. More than anyone else, I see Eric Gudz as tied to the student vote. While they have the support of Rochelle Swanson and Will Arnold, Eric did not get the support of the Chamber. So where does the student vote stand? Right now, the absentees are not coming in – or at least they weren’t a few days ago. That has to be some consternation for not only Eric Gudz but also the Measure J campaign. There is some optimism by student leaders that those votes will come in, but I must say, based on history, I am skeptical. Without a sizable student vote, I don’t see Eric Gudz winning. Could there be a wave below the surface? Sure, but we can only speculate on what we can see.
Mark West: Mark West has picked up late endorsements from the Chamber and the realtors. We believe he is the most housing-friendly candidate in the race and the only one willing to get rid of Measure R.
He says, “I believe Measure R is a major impediment to meeting our housing and fiscal challenges. It has resulted in leapfrog developments south of Woodland and on campus, thereby failing to protect farmland as promised, and has been used to block all housing and commercial development on the periphery, leading to our housing shortage and severely limiting economic development. I cannot support the continuation of a policy that significantly harms the majority of residents in town, and believe that Measure R should be repealed.”
But is that a winning position? We don’t think so in 2018, especially without the campaign organization bringing that message to the voters. Right now, we see Mark as running eighth.
Luis Rios: Let’s sum up Luis Rios’ chances this way, he has raised by far the least money and most of the meager $3200 he had raised came from loans to himself. We’ve been critical of his knowledge of the issues. We’ve been critical of his lack of communication with the media and others. In short, we don’t see him as a viable candidate and would be surprised if he got more than five percent of the vote.
For more information on the housing issue, here is our analysis of candidates on housing issues from last week: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2018/05/analysis-candidates-realistically-supportive-new-housing/.
—David M. Greenwald reporting