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.
“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
To sign up for our new newsletter – Everyday Injustice – https://tinyurl.com/yyultcf9