Letter: We Are Seeking 800 Signatures to Place Vacated DJUSD Seat on the November Ballot

By Robb Davis

On Thursday July, 2, the Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD) Board of Trustees made a provisional appointment to fill a board seat vacated by the resignation of Cindy Pickett, who is leaving the City due to a job change. The result of that appointment is a governing board that failed to respond to the significant public input regarding the decision, as well as failing to represent the diversity of the school district, which is nearly 50% students of color.

As a result, a citizen’s group—the Yolo Committee for Diverse and Inclusive Election—has formed and its first initiative is to collect signatures to require the DJUSD to place the vacated seat on the November ballot.

To put the seat up for election requires a petition of registered voters.  We are seeking to collect 800 signatures but time is very short and we will need to do so by Tuesday, July 14.  I am asking you to please sign the petition, which will be available at the Solidarity Space in Central Park (under the large oak tree), every evening from now until Tuesday, July 14 from 5:00-8:00 pm.

We are legally required to observe signatures but all volunteers will assure safe physical distancing and wear masks while collecting signatures. Alternatively, you email ycdiedavis@gmail.com and we’d be happy to get a petition to you—and answer any of your questions!  Please go to https://voterstatus.sos.ca.gov/ to check your voter information to assure you fill out the petition correctly.

By putting the seat up for election in November 2020, the voters will be able to decide for themselves who should fill this seat and represent them on the school board.  Deeply qualified women of color have run for public office in Davis and won, indicating a desire on the part of this community to have a board that more fully represents the perspectives, experiences, and needs of our diverse – and historically underrepresented – population.

I think most Davis residents would agree that having diverse and informed perspectives on local government bodies like the DJUSD Board of Trustees is critically important to making sure that the needs of all citizens—students and parents in this case—are considered in the decisions that directly affect them. I support this aim and believe an election in November is the best way to pursue it at this time.

We understand the current board’s desire to fill this position quickly in a way consistent with how previous boards have done it.  But given that this appointment will last for two years, and given our desire to achieve a more diverse and inclusive board with comprehensive experience in a time of crisis, we are pursuing an election of all the voters in the district. Please join us.

Robb Davis is a proponent and former Mayor of Davis

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Tia Will

    Thanks, Robb

    I signed this petition last night. I do not pretend to know who the best candidate is and do not know who I would vote for at this time. However, I have another reason for wanting a public race for a two-year position.

    We are in unprecedented times with the pandemic. I want to know the thought processes of each candidate with regard to not only the traditional school board issues but also the safe reopening of the schools, the allocation of resources for the provision of maximal safety of students, teachers, and school workers, the contingency plans for continued learning should reclosure occur. Please note that I said thought processes, not solutions since obviously no one has the answers at this point. What I want to see and compare are the candidates’ ability to use an evidence-based approach to see problems from different perspectives, to weigh and prioritize alternatives and to place safety above other considerations for all members of the community, including those who have been underrepresented in the past. These are new considerations that we have never faced before and are in my mind too critical to be left to 4 members of our community no matter how well-intentioned and should be brought to a vote.

  2. Alan Miller

    to Place Vacated DJUSD Seat on the November Ballot

    Because, in the middle of a pandemic, nothing is so important as focusing our attention and resources on a divisive attempt to achieve the ‘proper’ color and gender balances on the Davis School Board.

    Deeply qualified women of color have run for public office in Davis and won

    Read, ‘deeply qualified men of color’ need not apply – for the purpose of ‘correct gender balance’.

    Will the ‘Yolo Committee for Diverse and Inclusive Election’ be including each candidates’ gender and racial profile, along with the goal gender and racial profile for the board as a whole, so voters can easily ‘mix and match’ the candidates to the proper ‘Davis Way’ gender and racial mix?

    1. Alan Miller

      . . . and I almost forgot – has the ‘Yolo Committee for Diverse and Inclusive Election’ also considered the proper balance of Jews on the School Board?  Both secular and non-secular . . . it’s important that all be categorized appropriately and represented properly.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Nah… they propose the voters do that… if they are so inclined… rather than four individuals…

      And, there’s also the strong issue of process… irrespective of racial, ethnic, religious, whatever…

      The manner in which we got to this point ‘sniffs’, big time… as I have previously pointed out.

        1. Keith Olsen

          David, being that the student population in the DJUSD is only 2 to 3% black will it further unbalance the diversity ratio of the school board to the actual student demographics if a black candidate is elected?

          1. David Greenwald

            You can’t fine-tune percentages on a five member board. You have to look more broadly and generally.

        2. Bill Marshall

          If the remaining term ended in Nov 2020, I’d not be concerned… but it doesn’t… Klineberg showed class in her previous appointment, stating she would not run a few months later…

          I actually hope, if it comes to a vote, she runs… then she will ‘own’ the seat, if she wins, with no aspersions… will give her a greater ‘gravitas’… and if she wins, and performs well, she’d have a ‘leg up’ in 2022… having had a chance to ‘prove her mettle’… she has already demonstrated her interest and commitment to serve.  This is not about her.

          It is about process, and what I believe was an abuse thereof…

        3. Keith Olsen

          You can’t fine-tune percentages on a five member board. You have to look more broadly and generally.

          LOL, that’s pretty much what’s happening here with this ballot effort.

          1. David Greenwald

            First of all you allow the voters to decide which as Bill has pointed out from the start is the better process. Second, in they either add a person of color or a white person. If they add a person of color, then it adds to the diversity of the board. It is not going to fine tune it.

        4. Bill Marshall

          Remember there are already 2 seats up in November, with one incumbent apparently not seeking re-election… the other has not announced, apparently…

          Is that not potentially ‘divisive’?   Particularly given the two seats are by ‘district’, which is inherently ‘divisive’… voting to fill Pickett’s seat is the only way I’ll get to vote for a trustee, come November…

  3. Ron Glick

    “Because, in the middle of a pandemic, nothing is so important as focusing our attention and resources on a divisive attempt to achieve the ‘proper’ color and gender balances on the Davis School Board.”

    I too find it sad that this has boiled over in the middle of a pandemic. I went and signed and I haven’t gone hardly anywhere in four months. Donning a mask and gloves I brought my own pen. When I got back to my car I doused my hands with hand sanitizer.

    This is why the other day I suggested that other steps be taken that could have vacated the need to pursue a referendum. Apparently no one listened to my suggestion.

    1. Alan Miller

      Apparently no one listened to my suggestion.

      ’twas a good suggestion, as have been your suggestions on Measure R.  Often, the wise are not listened to in ‘merica.

  4. Bill Marshall

    Update, thanks in portion, to Robb Davis…

    If you have a problem with the appointment process (my issue) or the result (issue that others have expressed, but some are back-pedaling on THAT!) consider signing… they will be avail. @ Central Park until  P today, and, apparently, 5-8 P today, tomorrow or Monday…

    Cindy Pickett previously gave an e-mail address if you want one brought to you…

    The petition is avail @ a picnic table near the Floyd display… you have to look, no obvious signage… we added two signatures ~ 1/2 hour ago…

    If it succeeds, it succeeds… if it fails to get enough valid signatures it fails… follow your gut and conscience.  But, if you don’t sign, you lose your rights to whine about the process or the result

    Again I say… if it goes to a vote, will seriously consider voting for the current appointee (if she chooses to run, and if it comes to that, hope she does so), or any others that choose to run (filing period starts Monday… I will not be a candidate [no point, as little professional experience in Education, only had 3 children attending DJUSD, and am a white male…]).

    There would be 2 others, in addition, I’d seriously consider, who made it to the “semi-finals”…

    But, I believe an election will result in a Board member without a “cloud”… that is not true, as it stands today, IMNSHO… had I sought, and became the appointee, I believe I’d support the election concept, and run for the office.  But that’s just me…

  5. Jim Frame

    I’m confused about the proposed election status.  The petition calls for a special election, which I understand entails substantial cost.  Why can’t this seat go on the November ballot along with the others?

      1. Hiram Jackson

        Does a successful gathering of signatures mean that Pickett’s seat would be vacated immediately and remain empty until the November election?  or would Klineberg fill the seat until a replacement were elected?

        1. Hiram Jackson

          The way I read the wording of the petition suggests to me immediate termination of the provisional appointment whenever Jesse Salinas’ office verifies the signatures.

        2. Bill Marshall

          Now that you raise that, it is unclear… would probably take elections until the middle/end of August to determine the ‘success’ of the petition…  checking signatures etc.  So I think the appointment is good until then… and suspect they (Board) could interpret the law to wait for the vote, that has that language…

          Good question, but am not a poli-sci, or law major… we shall see… not thinking even a certified petition would be an automatic cancellation of the appointment… but, not my expertise… as I said before, I think the appointment SHOULD stand, until decided by a vote… if it even gets to that point…

          I’m getting the ‘vibe’ from you that you want the appointment ‘to stand’… may be wrong… but very interesting given you had applied for the appointment.  No clarification needed…

        3. Hiram Jackson

          It would be really helpful to have a fully-staffed school board to figure out how to open schools in August during one of the most challenging times in history.  Beyond that, if there are sufficient eligible signatories for a November election, I respect it.

  6. Jim Frame

    And if it does go on the November ballot, is there a cost to the district in addition to the seats already calendared?  I’ve seen numbers ranging from $30k to $100k to put this up to a vote.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Lower # seems correct, and might be lower, as the filing period for the two open seats does not even begin until tomorrow… can’t believe it would be more expensive to put 3 seats on the ballot, than two, particularly given there may be several candidates for each of the two (or 3) seats… can’t imagine the incremental cost would be more than 1/2 of the costs that will be already incurred…

      Cost, to me, is de minimus… it is not the principal, but the principle of the thing, in my view…

      Those who like the appointee (who could run for at least the ‘at-large’ seat, maybe one of the others [the district of the appointee’s residence has not been disclosed, as far as I’ve seen]) will oppose the election, and cite “cost”… but there will be a ‘cloud’ if it stands.

      The financial challenges of the District due to ADA, changes to reopen/alt learning, etc., due to covid, is likely to make $30k (or, even $100k), at most. a pee in the ocean…

      As I understand it, today and tomorrow, petitions for an election are avail. @ Central Park, 5-8 P…

      If you support an election, please sign… if you oppose, please don’t… very simple.  We made our choice.  I make no recommendation, except, if you choose to go for an election, please sign… if not, please don’t… but make a conscious choice!  Guess I’ve also recommended that you make the choice based on principle, not principal.

      And again, I have no problems with the appointee… if it goes to an election, I hope she runs, and may support her… mine is a pretty well documented process issue… the appointee, in my opinion, should be allowed to serve until the certification of the election (if it involves her seat)… if no election, I hope she brings value to the Board, and succeeds… and we can discuss again in 2022…

      1. Bill Marshall

        Oh… and if the petition fails, I really don’t want to hear whinings from those who oppose the process to date, or the results… nada… zip…

        Signing, or NOT signing are choices… be responsible for your choices

        And realize that one trustee, likely up for re-election, is largely responsible for where we are…

        1. Ron Glick

          That is false. Two of the three votes for Klineberg were from Adams and Dinunzio who are not up this year. Only Fernandes is up. Why is he largely responsible?

  7. Ron Glick

    I watched the video. I don’t see what you are. If you don’t want to repeat yourself perhaps you could point out where you identified your complaint?

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