Sunday Commentary: Analyzing the Council Candidates

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:

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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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. Alan Miller

    Larry Guenther and Ezra Beeman:

    Wow, DG.  I am appalled by this.  You have an analysis of each of the candidates, yet lump two of them together and talk about how they are supposedly alike and say very little about either.   I am not going to get into details as I very much like both these people, but they politically differ in many ways and even in the nature of their view on Nishi.  This lumping together is conniving and disrespectful to both of them.


    1. Don Shor

      I am not going to get into details as I very much like both these people, but they politically differ in many ways and even in the nature of their view on Nishi.

      I don’t understand why you won’t “get into details” about them. Do you support Beeman and/or Guenther? If so, this seems like a good opportunity to tell us why. But regarding Nishi, here are quotes.

      From the Enterprise quoting CivEnergy:

      Do you support Nishi 2.0?

      Beeman: No, because I think it does not yet address what the community wants in its current form, e.g. onsite testing to demonstrate safety, no increase in congestion on First Street and the Richards Boulevard underpass and 35-percent affordable housing.

      Guenther: Soft no. We have enough expensive housing, we need housing people can afford (less than $1,000/bed). The project did not follow the normal development process and does not adhere to city policies (like on affordable housing). The design should be such that more units are available and for lower rates. I do not believe the “lease-by-the-bed” model is in the city’s or a tenant’s best interest. The discussion of the Finance and Budget Commission left me unconvinced that the proposed project will be fiscally neutral for the city in the long term. I do believe that the city needs to be a part of the solution to the housing shortage and I am in support of projects being or approaching net-zero energy and being designed and located to reduce reliance on the automobile, as this project proposes..

    1. Robert Canning

      Re. Guenther: Larry supported a project at the Trackside site – an increase in density over what there is now (no people live there). He supports a more dense housing on the Nishi site – that’s why he is a soft NO. He also supports increased density in the Downtown Core.

      How is that No Growth?

      1. Don Shor

        In the instances you provide, he is no-growth because he doesn’t support any projects that have actually been proposed. Only ones that exist in theory. Every slow- or no- growth person I know supports imaginary projects. The question is how they would vote on actual proposals that come before them on the council.

        1. Robert Canning

          Larry supports Lincoln 40. He also has supported every infill project in Old East Davis in the last three years. Come on down and take a look at all the in-fill in Old East. If that’s not growth then I am not sure I understand your definition.

        2. Jeff M

          Larry supports Lincoln 40. He also has supported every infill project in Old East Davis in the last three years. Come on down and take a look at all the in-fill in Old East.

          The most effective no-grothers pick a project to support to claim that they are not no-growthers.  The East Davis infill projects are irrelevant given they are de minimis impacts to growth.

          From your posts it appears that Larry is some activist about affordable housing.  The problem what that is that Larry also seems to lack understanding about how development projects are actually conceived, funded and accomplished.  As Don Shor points out there end up projects proposed and they get a vote. Larry has been against most of them… all of the peripheral development projects.  Larry does not have his own money in the projects from what I can tell.  Larry doesn’t have the ability to force a developer to make a smaller return just to satisfy his affordable housing twitch.  So Larry is in effect a no-growther.

          Sorry to have to spoil it for you.

          1. David Greenwald

            Labels are useless. For example – where would you say someone like Eileen Samitz comes down? And yet, over the years, she has supported Wild Horse, Cannery and now apparently WDAAC.

          2. Don Shor

            No-, Slow-, Pro- growth exists on a continuum. Eileen largely supports developments of single-family homes in projects that aren’t for students.

        3. Robert Canning

          Not sure where you get the notion that Larry is interested in affordable housing.

          Regarding infill, how is that not growth? There’s more than one way to skin the growth cat and a variety of projects is in line with the General Plan. Your way of growth and Guenther’s may differ but both involve growth rather than stasis and stagnation.

        4. Ron

          Don:  Eileen supports the Oxford Circle development, which is aimed at students.  She has suggested that some other proposals be designed in a more inclusionary manner, to accommodate both students and non-students.

          I believe that you already know this. Also, some of your other comments above are unnecessarily inflammatory and misleading. Please stop doing this.

        1. Alan Miller

          > It isn’t  [edited]

          As Issac Hayes said in response to criticism (“Shut your mouth!”) to his question regarding Shaft (lyrics that definitely would not pass the Vanguard “smell test”) — “Just telling the truth!”.

          So I will go again with a dumbed down double entendre:

          It isn’t.  JM is a master at baiting people.


      2. Matt Williams

        The kind of leadership we need from the Council is the creation of a planning environment and process that causes developers to bring forward projects that are clearly better for the community … that move the community forward.  My personal opinion is that that starts by moving forward to completion the General Plan Update, together with a consistent and enforceable/enforced Zoning Code that Davis residents and businesses can consistently rely on.

        1. Howard P

          You make the assumption (as many do) that ‘the community’, and ‘moving the community forward’, are objective, demonstrable terms, in real time, and assume there is a unified “community vision”, consistent with our own opinions.


        2. David Greenwald

          “to bring forward projects that are clearly better for the community … that move the community forward. ”

          You act like there is an objective standard as to what is clearly better for the community.  There isn’t.  That’s why we have such disagreement on these issues.

        3. Howard P

          Matt has no need to ‘concede’ anything, other than difference of view… David, your “Ha-ha” was sophomoric, if not childish.

          If Matt has a problem with what I say, we’ll discuss over a coffee or beer…  we like challenging each other without real or implied “put-downs”… would that the VG could get there…

  2. Todd Edelman

    I would like to see the Nishi Magic Interior Filters and Conditional Hot Dogs team announce a v3.0 release for Nishi, just to prove that they care! It would combine the best of both 1.0 and 2.0 and would be preceded by an initial vote in November 2018 on a measure to allow them to start to plant the “urban forest” now, while they also use their wealth to enable local sustainable transport and environmental actors like me to fight hard against the Caltrans plan to expand the capacity of I-80, which has – as far as I know – no concrete goals to reduce gas, particle or noise pollution. This fight will end up in the Supreme Court which will rule 5:4 to allow the City of Davis to charge every driver on I-80 $3 to 5 to transit the city from east to west. Then when Nishi 3.0 is brought to the ballot in 2020 we will have a much clearer understanding of everything, including how pricing market-rate beds at $800 each in shared rooms is vicious financial abuse.

    To facilitate this beautiful endeavor all the City Council members and candidates wold form a grand council. The Internationally-Famous Davis Health Toll on I-80 will gross as much as $100 million annually, which is like 30 times as much as Measure I and 50 times as much as we will get from SB1.

    Wow! Isn’t this fantastic?!!

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