Frerichs Talks about His Run for a Third Term on the Davis City Council

Lucas Frerichs in August 2019 discussing district elections

Lucas Frerichs is attempting a fairly rare feat in Davis political history—being elected to a third consecutive term. Since the 1972 election, it has only happened a a few times, and since 1990 we have only seen Dave Rosenberg (now Judge Rosenberg) and Sue Greenwald reach a third term.

Stephen Souza attempted to run for a third term in 2012 and lost, and Sue Greenwald attempted to run for a fourth term also in 2012, and also lost.

One of the people who knocked them off was Lucas Frerichs. And now Lucas Frerichs is attempting to seek a third term in his own right, as he faces a unique set of circumstances. Not only do we face economic difficulties—something that Frerichs dealt with back in 2012, but we now have a pandemic, mounting concerns about public safety and newly-formed districts.

Lucas Frerichs is now in District 3, and faces Larry Guenther, who ran in 2018.

But for him right now, “now more than ever, it’s important for leaders to understand how things work, how to navigate red tape and bureaucracy, how to engage in regional collaboration.

“Covid-19 has drastically changed our world,” he said. “It’s important to have leaders on the city council that know how things work and know how to get things done.”

With the new system comes a new title for Lucas Frerichs. Under the old system, because both in 2012 and 2016 he finished second, he never had the opportunity to serve as mayor. Now with the new system, while Gloria Partida is the new mayor, Lucas Frerichs is now Vice Mayor and in line to become mayor, but there is one catch—he has to win the election in November.

It’s not just a new title, however.

“It’s the first time I’ve been in a district situation where it’s a one on one,” Frerichs said. “I’m still frustrated with how the district election process came about—clearly the city was not going to be in a situation where it was likely to prevail and keep at-large elections in place.”

For him, “Even though I may live in a certain part of the city, I certainly will try to be representative of the entire community. I think I have a long track record of doing that.”

He doesn’t believe that will change even though he will have to be responsive to the needs of his district that he is elected to represent.

Frerichs said he will not approach citizens from the perspective of district. “I’m not going to say, no you’re not in my district,” he said. “I still plan to listen to their issues and try to figure out a solution to the issue that they raise.”

Lucas Frerichs was still in high school when he moved to Davis in 1996. Over that time, he has seen some amount of growth.

He noted that “25 years ago, there wasn’t a lot in terms of cultural amenities, the university has certainly helped to provide a lot of that with the Mondavi Center… but also things in the downtown, so much more happening… prior to COVID, the past several years, there has been so much more cultural opportunities around town.

“It didn’t exist before,” he said.

On the downside, there are increases in homelessness.

“It’s not just a Davis issue,” he noted. “It’s a societal issue. There were individuals who were homeless in Davis 20 years ago, but it was a smaller amount of individuals.”

At the same time, the city has changed how it addresses these issues.

“We’ve had a much more collaborative approach,” he said, with the county and other non-profit partners helping to address issues around homelessness.

He also talked about the difference between getting elected in 2012 and now.

“Getting elected during the Great Recession, that was an eye opening experience,” he said. He had served on Social Services and Planning prior to his election. But when he got elected, “I realized how much I didn’t know. It takes some amount of time to figure out how to make things happen.”

One big change is the way that commissioners are selected. Years ago they would get a thick binder of applications and people would go through it during an evening and might not know who was applying.

For the past six years, Brett Lee and Lucas Frerichs have conducted interviews with prospective commissioners.

“It really has helped to make the whole process more effective and efficient,” he said, and he believes it has helped the commissions provide a lot more benefit to the city.

While you might think in eight years he has seen it all, this year stands out.

“It has been totally surreal,” he said. “Here we are in August, I have heard these jokes, here we are on April 156, or whatever the date. This year has just seemed to have gone on and on. It has been so challenging for many standpoints.”

He serves on a number of boards including SACOG (Sacramento Area Council of Governments) and has seen the challenges of switching to electronic meetings.

“Humans typically thrive at physically interacting with each other,” he said. “It has all been virtual by necessity and there has definitely been something lost there.

“It’s just not the same,” he said.

Lucas Frerichs was one of these figures in town that was omnipresent at most community functions.

“I definitely enjoy being around people and being involved in events in the community,” he said. “It’s been a challenge”—although he does marvel at the ability of the community to pivot to virtual events. “It’s not easy to replace being able to be together in person.”

In terms of issues, he is looking forward to implementing the Downtown Specific Plan in hopes of enhancing downtown Davis.

He was also a co-founder of the Valley Clean Energy JPA and is looking forward to working more on that.

He looks forward to updating the city General Plan.

Homelessness and affordable housing are important issues, sustainability and climate change, as well as increasing investment in neighborhoods and infrastructure.

“I hear the call for increased communication from the city,” he said. “It’s something I think is very important for the neighbors, neighborhoods and also for the city.”

He wants to see the city up its game here.

This figures to be a unique election season—council elections are now in the fall, running up against school board, county supervisor and, most of all, the general presidential election. And they will take place during a time when person-to-person contact will be more limited. What that looks like will be anyone’s guess.

—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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19 thoughts on “Frerichs Talks about His Run for a Third Term on the Davis City Council”

  1. Ron Glick

    Lucas voted against parking meters when Dan Wolk was on the council, then voted for them on the street faces before compromising and voting to put them in parking lots under intense citizen opposition. Recently he voted to withdraw the funding for implementation of putting meters in the parking lots.

    My question for Lucas is does he intend to restore the money for putting  parking meters in the parking lots when the economy recovers or does he see additional meters as a dead issue?

  2. Don Shor

    Lucas has done a great job both locally and on regional planning issues. He gives excellent constituent service and has definitely earned a third term.

    It’s a frustrating aspect of these district elections that this becomes a binary choice, since I suspect Larry Guenther would be great on the council as well. But given that it’s a binary choice, Lucas should prevail on the basis of his past performance and accurate identification of the key issues going forward.

    I would note that parking meters are not a key issue to all except maybe a handful of people, but I’m sure he will make his position clear on that topic for Ron G.

  3. Alan Miller

    “Here we are in August, I have heard these jokes, here we are on April 156, or whatever the date . . . “

    Was that the joke, or was that a misquote?

      1. Alan Miller

        I’m sorry, you say there are still other people on the planet?

        . . . yes, pretty much could count the number of times I’ve been inside a store (or any other inside space sans my home) since mid-March on my fingers and some of my toes.

        (one of those times was today, NE CVS, and once again, an employee on a ladder talking a few feet from another employee, with no mask on . . . idiots!; last time I was there – customer with no mask – excuse was, as a pharmacy they can’t require masks – but better than the one time I went to Rite Aid – four people in store – two employees and one customer with no masks – Drug Stores are stupidity/death zones in Davis)

  4. Bill Marshall

     I certainly will try to be representative of the entire community.

    Think Yoda said, something along the lines of “no such thing as ‘try’… just ‘do!’…” (Actually had a Dr tell me same kinda’ thing)

    I am not eligible to vote for the 3rd district rep on CC… in fact, I am disenfranchised for voting for a CC rep this year, due to the district thingy… [District 4]

    But as to the 3rd district, glad am not voting… have a problem for voting on the basis of  ‘lesser of two evils’, or ‘better the devil you know’… “flip-flops” vs. “steady” positions I don’t agree with… rock and hard place… pick your metaphor…

    Will wait until Larry Guenther is interviewed/speaks, to decide whether I want to recommend anything to the 3rd District folk…

  5. Richard McCann

    …clearly the city was not going to be in a situation where it was likely to prevail and keep at-large elections in place.

    With the Santa Monica decision at the appellate level in mid July this is probably no longer the case. The City can safely go back to citywide elections. Those alleging civil rights violations now need to show that creating districts will cause a likely change in the outcome individual seat elections for a protect class. Davis is much like Santa Monica in how its various ethnicities are geographically dispersed.

    1. Eric Gelber

      The City can safely go back to citywide elections.

      Well, not necessarily. First, these cases are very fact-specific; so, a Yolo County trial court could come to a different result based on the evidence. Second, the Santa Monica case is in a different appellate district. The 2nd District Court of Appeal decision is not binding on the 3rd District Court of Appeal. It may be that the Supreme Court would have to reconcile any differing interpretations of the law. So, regardless of the eventual outcome, we could be talking about lengthy and costly litigation.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        It was also pointed out to me that Santa Monica spent $22 million on this.

        Besides what if we end up liking districts better? At least try it.

        1. Eric Gelber

          Right. While, obviously, on a much larger scale, we have district elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and statewide elections for U.S. Senate. I’m not sure one method is inherently better than the other.

        2. Richard McCann

          Santa Monica already spent the money to likely set a precedent for other cities. Davis may not have to spend any money. (And I’m not complaining that Davis should have fought this–I said its “likely no longer the case.” I’m pointing out that we likely will be able to switch back.)

        3. Richard McCann

          We’re giving districts a try this time. Doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t plan on going back, even ASAP.

          Districts lead to parochialism almost invariably. NIMBYism is reinforced by having a specific representative.

          The US Senate is a completely different structure, akin to the UN, where it isn’t based on population.

          The better solution is ranked choice voting, which unties representation from geography (which is arbitrary).

  6. Eric Gelber

    Districts lead to parochialism almost invariably.

    That’s an oft-repeated assumption that’s not necessarily true. Other localities that have gone to district elections find that the body continues to function well and to adopt policies and budgets that benefit all residents. What district elections invariably do is to increase local dialogue and community outreach on city or county issues. I wouldn’t be so quick to go back to city wide elections without giving districts a chance.

    The US Senate is a completely different structure, akin to the UN, where it isn’t based on population.

    A distinction without a difference.

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