Many believed from the start that Measure G, the parcel tax measure for Davis Joint Unified that will fund teacher compensation increases, could win a narrow victory—as defined under current state law where school parcel taxes are required to receive a two-thirds majority in order to prevail.
However, the first election returns put it at just 63.9 percent of the vote—a percentage that increased to 65.1 by the end of the night. To many it seemed a long shot that the measure could pass.
But on March 27, the latest tally moved the yes percent to over 67 percent. On Wednesday, Yolo County completed their canvass and the measure received just over 68 percent of the vote—a total that would not have surprised many going into the election results, but is absolutely shocking given where things were on election day and shortly thereafter.
Evan Jacobs, spokesperson for the campaign, told the Vanguard, “Our campaign team expected a close election. We had about 62 days between New Year’s and election day to educate voters on the pay gap for Davis teachers and how students benefit from great educators. Given the excitement around the Presidential primary we knew that our message would take time to sink in.”
He added, “Our campaign volunteers leaned into the effort of reaching voters, and a large group of community leaders helped amplify our message. The campaign provided credible information about why the measure was necessary and earned the trust of voters.”
Mr. Jacobs said, “The increased levels of support in the ballots counted after election day reflects the difference our volunteers made in educating voters and activating supporters. This effort continued through election day and was crucial in the successful outcome of the measure.”
Yolo County Elections put out a statement on Wednesday that they finalized the canvass process and certified the election.
There were 117 thousand registered voters in the county with 64,858 ballots cast for a total turnout countywide of 55.3 percent.
They noted, “This marks a record for Yolo County for number of registered voters. The prior high-water mark was 113,132 registered voters as of November 2018. This election’s voter turnout of 55.3% was higher than the last Presidential Primary Election in Yolo County. In the 2016 Presidential Primary Election, voter turnout in Yolo County was 53.6%.”
“Even with all the challenges associated with COVID-19, we were able to still certify an accurate and transparent election two weeks prior to the Governor’s extended deadline and had the highest primary election turnout since 2008,” said Jesse Salinas, Yolo County Assessor/Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters.
In addition to the Measure G result which was up in the air, two county supervisor races hinged on close races as well.
In Davis, the 4th Supervisorial is headed to a runoff, where Jim Provenza fell short of a 50 percent mark needed to avoid a running off—he received 48.43 percent of the vote. He will face Linda Deos in the fall, who received a surprisingly strong 37.5 percent of the vote.
In addition, Angel Barajas, the former Mayor of Woodland, defeated four-term incumbent Duane Chamberlain, who had been the longest running elected official in the county.
Mr. Chamberlain led after Election Day by a scant 90-vote margin. Angel Barajas dominated in the post election day balloting, winning by over 440 votes and a 52.4 to 47.6 margin.
He will add a Latino voice to a board that was seen by some lacking as in diversity.
When we spoke to Alan Fernandes, one of the school board members who served on the parcel tax subcommittee following the March 27 totals, he was fairly confident that the results would now hold up, though he said he was not ready to “spike the ball in the end zone” just yet.
“I did believe we would get there, but I didn’t think we would open up a full percentage point in the last tally—and that’s what happened,” he said.
“The next step in terms of the parcel tax negotiation is already all done,” he said, noting that they will have to appoint a committee. This increase will take effect in July, the next fiscal year.
“(The pay raise) will bump up in July,” he said. “They’ll see a raise.”
Every teacher’s pay will go up by $2900 annually.
Alan Fernandes explains that, by making it a flat increase, it will increase the pay gap as a percentage more on the bottom range than the top range. The pay gap is a lot larger at the lower levels and closes markedly on the upper levels.
“Our newer teachers had a bit wider gap,” he said. “One of the ways we addressed that, every teacher got a flat dollar increase… starting July 1.”
This pay increase, Alan Fernandes said, puts the district at the level of compensation now for surrounding school districts.
Given the economic uncertainty that awaits DJUSD and other school districts, the passage of the parcel tax seems to have come at the right time.
“We believe that the voters… are supportive of our public school system,” Alan Fernandes said. “In Davis they know the value that it brings back to them.
“This is a community that is totally supportive and all about public education,” he added. “Two-thirds is the highest standard that can be in place. As long as you meet that two-thirds threshold, it’s hard to argue otherwise that this community isn’t always willing to answer the call when our public school system needs something.”
He pointed out that they offered to the community a no-sunset, cost-of-living inflator to support our educators “and our community seems to have answered the call.”
Board Member Joe DiNunzio is expected to release a statement that will be added to this story later in the morning.
—David M. Greenwald reporting