Pickett, DiNunzio, Moreno All Cruise to Wins; Adams Re-Elected, and Measure M Easily Passes

As it turned out there were no close calls locally on Tuesday night.  That was expected in the DJUSD school board race.  Chris Legal, beset by legal troubles, and not running a campaign or even responding to reporter questions, didn’t figure to be a factor and he wasn’t.

In one sense, it might be a surprise to see that he got 1600-plus votes.  However, with the other candidates at over 10,000 votes, it was not a close race.  Cindy Pickett finished a commanding first, with Joe DiNunzio getting elected for the first time and Tom Adams finishing third to win a second term.

The bond measure, Measure M, also had little in the way of competition.  The opposition did not submit a ballot statement and, while they wanted to contest the measure in a forum, the opposition never gained steam and the measure passed by a near three to one margin with 12830 votes to 4907.  As a bond measure, it needed 55 percent of the vote, but got 72.3.

The biggest surprise of the night was the lopsided nature, if not the result, of the Yolo County Board of Education, Trustee, Area 2 election.  That was an open seat and figured to be heavily contested.  The Vanguard’s analysis showed Melissa Moreno with a rather large advantage over former DJUSD Superintendent David Murphy.

As it turned out, she won even more heavily than expected with a 63.5 to 36.5 advantage, winning by over 2000 votes.  Given his name recognition advantage, the vote margin was stunning.

It was a strong campaign effort that pushed her over the top.

“I’m thinking about the community,” Melissa Moreno told the Vanguard.  “and the needs of the community and the students of Yolo County.  This is an honor to be in this position.  I’m taking this very seriously in terms of the leadership that’s required to serve.”

She said that she was surprised at the then-early results “in a very positive way.”  “I guess I’m feeling like my team and their leadership is really reflecting in this turnout.  It’s really the work of the team and their leadership.

“I’m a first-time candidate and (the experience) was positive for the most part,” Ms. Moreno stated.  “It was positive because I felt the community support from the beginning.”

Melissa Moreno with Cindy Pickett

The Vanguard also caught up with Cindy Pickett on Tuesday night.

Cindy Pickett pointed out that she has been campaigning for a long time.  “I was expecting to have to run against eight or nine different people, but in the end, I ended up connecting with a lot of the community, hearing their concerns, and I’m really looking forward to serving and moving the district forward.

“Looking at our budget and figuring out how we’re going to be spending out money,” she said will be first on her list.  “When we do face issues, and the teacher compensation is one that’s right on my radar, we’ll be able to make informed decisions about how to best address that.”

She and Joe DiNunzio will be sworn-in in December, so their term is only a few weeks away from beginning.

The Vanguard caught up with Joe DiNunzio via phone on Tuesday night.

At the time of the interview, only the initial votes were counted, but he said, “I’m grateful, I’m humbled and honestly… I’m excited about the opportunity to serve the community, to work on behalf of the students, the teachers and the staff and everyone here in Davis.”

He noted, as a newcomer to the board, “The agenda is going to be set by incoming President Bob Poppenga working with the Superintendent.  My guess is that they’re going to pick the things that we’re going to focus on.”

Mr. DiNunzio said that, over the last several months, he had the opportunity to talk to several thousand people in the community.

He said that he was pleased as to how willing the public was to sharing their concerns and their insights into the public school system.

He said, “It’s important for us to deal with the challenges, no question about that.  It’s important for us to have feedback and incorporate that from the community.  It’s also really important for us to have aspirations to become something even better than we are.

“How do we continuously get better?” he said.

Davis elected three women of color this year – Cindy Pickett, Gloria Partida and Melissa Moreno

The Vanguard never received a response from the Measure M team, but Joe DiNunzio offered some thoughts of his own.

“It’s looking good for Measure M passing,” he said.  “I’m really pleased and grateful to the community that we continue to provide the resources that the school system needs to be able to provide an excellent education for all of our students.”

He said, “I imagine part of what we’ll be doing is looking at how to move forward with actually floating those bonds and managing the process for setting the priorities for facility renewal.”

In December, then, Barbara Archer will leave as her term expires, Madhavi Sunder has already moved to Washington, DC, and so Joe DiNunzio and Cindy Pickett will take their place with Tom Adams coming back for a second term.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for

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.

Related posts


  1. Keith O

    In one sense, it might be a surprise to see that he got 1600-plus votes. 

    I saw that last night and was wondering the same thing.  I feel it all comes down to many voters have no idea who all four names were for the school board.  So just by random he most likely picked up a lot  of those votes.

        1. Richard McCann

          Given that the quality of Davis schools increases the house value by up to $200K compared to other Yolo County communities, $360 a year seems to be a pretty minimal investment. (BTW, I can send you the study done 20 years ago that showed that Piedmont houses were worth $100K more than neighboring Oakland houses for this reason.)

        2. Keith O

          Given that the quality of Davis schools increases the house value by up to $200K compared to other Yolo County communities

          That’s not a given.  Do you maybe think that Davis housing policies, the unique downtown and the world class campus have a lot to do with housing prices?  Sure the schools play somewhat into that too, but I highly doubt one can attribute $200,000 in value to that.

  2. Jim Hoch

    It would be interesting to find out how many of those 1,600 voters could pick Chris legal out of a lineup.

    More interesting will be how many of them will have to pick Chris Legal out of a lineup someday.

  3. Ken A

    When David says “Given his name recognition advantage, the vote margin was stunning.” I don’t think that a guy with a name like “David Murphy” that has not been on the ballot in years really has any “name recognition” since just like almost everyone knows someone named named David Smith they also know a few guys named David Murphy (or David Wong if they live in SF or David Lopez if they live in LA)…

    P.S. I just looked and only have one David Smith in my address book but I do have six guys named “Jeff” Smith (and two guys named David Wong and one named David Lopez)…

    1. David Greenwald

      He’s never been on the ballot.  But he was Superintendent of DJUSD for over a decade and lived here for like 30 or 40 years.  He definitely had name recognition.

  4. Craig Ross

    Davis approves $150 million for schools.  Woodland rejects their $20 million measure: “In probably the biggest surprise of the evening, Woodland school district voters turned down a $20 million funding plan for projects at Woodland and Pioneer High Schools.”

    1. H Jackson

      Other nearby school districts who also successfully passed school bond measures this week were Winters JUSD, Vallejo, and Natomas.  In recent years Woodland has been particularly averse to approving school bonds.

  5. Craig Ross

    “It’s going be really tough to pass a parcel tax…”

    Keith – you keep raising the point about the taxes, the voters of Davis don’t agree with you.  When are you going to acknowledge that?  You were way off on your call on Measure L – way off – you called 57-43 no and it was the exact opposite.  Did it occur to you that you might not be the best judge as to what this community is thinking?

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for