In Tough Times, Will Arnold Seeks a Second Term

Will Arnold and his wife Nichole on Election Day in 2016

Will Arnold didn’t know if he would be running for a second term when this year started, nor did he know what this year would bring. These are tough times for many people in this community, and it was against that backdrop of tough times that Will Arnold discussed his candidacy for reelection.  That candidacy promised to be a very hard fought contest with Dillan Horton and Colin Walsh as opponents..

“I’m very excited to be running for reelection,” Will Arnold told the Vanguard. He said he was contacted by “folks who had appreciated my leadership on the council” and based on that community input, “I decided to run for reelection.”

He said Brett Lee’s decision to not run made the decision to run for reelection easier.

“I have a lot of respect for Brett Lee and appreciate his service on the Council.  I would have not looked forward to the possibility of running against him … someone who I’ve worked very closely with over the years,” he said. “His not running made the decision a little easier for me.”


Four years ago, Will Arnold believed the biggest challenge for the city was the abysmal 0.2 percent vacancy rate in the city’s apartments.

“Looking back at the numbers from 2010 to 2016, there were exactly zero market rate rental projects passed by the City Council,” he said. “That in part led us to the situation where we were in 2016.”

He said since being elected “we saw this housing crisis and we took it head on.”

“I’m very proud of that,” he said. It wasn’t easy. “Each one of these projects was controversial.” He said, “Whether you like them or not, one thing you can’t say is that I don’t take issues straight on.”

Will Arnold is proud of his accomplishments. He believes that the council has been a team that has worked well together. He believes that the budget is more secure and stable “even in the face of the current economic challenges that we face.”

He noted that during good times, “we were very prudent about hiring” and that has allowed them to avoid doing layoffs or other drastic cuts.

He noted that in 2013 he ran the Measure I campaign for the water project, and now he is the chair of the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency JPA – “it’s all come full circle.”

Will Arnold expanded on how they have taken on housing issues, beginning with the fact that prior to his being elected, the first three Measure J votes went down to overwhelming defeat. He believes that Council’s actions produced enough change that in 2018, both projects passed their Measure R votes.

“We had our first two Measure J projects pass through the voters,” he said. “I think that speaks to community’s recognition of the presence of the housing crisis as well as to the community trust in the Council and the projects we brought forward.”

Policing and Police Accountability

Will Arnold spent a lot of time talking about policing issues believing that they’ve done some very progressive things with respect to policing and police accountability.

He talked about his recent proposal about re-thinking policing in this community. He acknowledged that what got a lot of attention was the proposal for the name change. That’s how the regional press covered it.

“I think that’s burying the lede,” he said. “A name change won’t solve the deeply rooted issue.” But he thinks it does “send the message… helping to jolt us into the systemic changes that I proposed.”

He is working with the mayor on an informal working group to help bring forward these changes.

He said, “We’re taking this moment very seriously and looking forward to addressing in a very serious way these issues that are facing us.”

Will Arnold did note that we don’t know what the big issues are that we are going to be facing.

“Sometimes you do, like the housing crisis,” he said. The issue of police has been around since the start of his term – first with the issue of the Picnic Day incident where he played a key role in getting former Sacramento Sheriff John McGinness out from being the independent investigator. Then there was the tragic death of Natalie Corona. FInally as part of the national response to the death of George Floyd.

In his proposal, he wrote, “Systemic racism is embedded in every part of our society, in every institution, including healthcare, education, business, housing and yes, political leadership. But it is our system of policing and criminal justice where the consequences of systemic racism are the most troubling and severe, including people of color avoiding police interaction, living in fear, losing their freedoms, or being killed.”

He said to the Vanguard, “That is where I’m coming from when I am addressing these issues.”

This issue is very personal to him. He noted his own disabilities, and the fact that a large percentage of people killed by police have some sort of disabilities and the fact that his oldest son is a Black teenager with a developmental disability.

The risk of what might happen was not lost on him as he had a minor incident where his son got a bit too close to a stranger who viewed him as a clear threat, Will Arnold explained. He worries because as he said, “I don’t know how or whether he can respond to police commands.”

He added, “That scares the hell out of me.”

And then there is COVID.

He said he has been taking great care to protect his family on this count as well. “That scares the hell out of me too – it’s just so awful and tragic,” he said. “We could spend a lot of time lamenting the lack of federal leadership that we’ve seen.”

But even before COVID, he said there was a lot of time spent attempting to address issues that were beyond the direct control of the community. “I think Climate Change is the best example,” he said. “We are tasked with addressing the immediate needs of our community as well as an uncertain future.”

“More than ever it’s critical that our city councilmembers have experience, competence, resolve and a willingness to thinking creatively,” he said in hopes of preserving the community that we like.

“These events of 2020 really solidified my desire to continue my service to the community,” he added.

—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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  1. Bill Marshall

    First full disclosure as to some ‘biases’… to be ‘transparent’…

    I ‘kinda knew both of his parents… peripherally… never directly met either…

    I also was assigned to a “Youth in Government” thingy, as a senior/management City employee, when Will was elected by his peer to serve as ‘mayor’… watched the mock CC meeting, was impressed… but he was not my ‘shadow’…

    I have gone by the name/appellation, “Will” for about half of my professional career…

    That out of the way, glad he is running for a second term, based on his behavior as a CC member for 4 years… have disagreed with some of his positions/decisions/votes, but always felt, agree or disagree, he came to them based on knowledge, integrity, and intelligent consideration.

    This is NOT an endorsement… need to hear from his apparently worthy opponents… but come November, am inclined to keep him on CC, at this point… but doesn’t matter… I am disenfranchised to vote for anyone in the district seat he seeks…

    Just to ‘whine’… district elections, supposedly intended to enfranchise folk, are currently also serving to disenfranchise folk (like me)… now, I get to vote for CC members every 4 years (and not at all this year!), instead of every 2 years… but, it is what it is… am working to “get over it”…

  2. Ron Oertel

    “Looking back at the numbers from 2010 to 2016, there were exactly zero market rate rental projects passed by the City Council,” he said. 

    How many were proposed during that period?

    How many were proposed during that period in nearby cities (e.g., Woodland)?

    How about comparing those two cities even after 2016, regarding this type of proposal?

    Because the quote itself is completely misleading. And yet, this type of statement has been latched-onto multiple times.

    By the way, how many of the proposals since that time pretty much exclude anyone but students, by design?

        1. Bill Marshall

          You made my earlier point, perfectly… you need not be a resident or voter in Davis to do either…

          As long as the $$$ thingy is disclosed/reported (std op procedure, so no worries there!)… the ‘asking’ part is a “freebie”… and, no harm, no foul…

          Go for it, if so inclined!

  3. Ron Oertel

    He noted that during good times, “we were very prudent about hiring” and that has allowed them to avoid doing layoffs or other drastic cuts.

    What cities across California actually need to do is to take on the unfunded liabilities (e.g. overly-expensive unfunded benefits for retirees), which are nothing but that – liabilities without benefit to cities.

    But, they’re not going to do that, willingly. The system will have to crash, first.

    Instead, they will cut current employees (as well as their salary/benefits) who are actually doing work, for cities. (Again, not limited to Davis.)

    Go figure.

  4. Ron Oertel

    Though in reference to my 9:56 a.m. comment, one should note that Will Arnold is the strongest voice on the council regarding “enough is enough”, in regard to megadorms in the city.  Even more so, since Covid arose. (He said something along the lines of, does the city even need “1/5” of the megadorms already-approved?)

    He is also a strong supporter of Measure J/R.

    Overall, Will Arnold says what he means, and pulls no punches.  A forceful, clear speaker.

    Of course, I’d prefer Colin Walsh, regardless.


  5. Todd Edelman

    He is working with the mayor on an informal working group to help bring forward these changes.

    Why isn’t this being handled – formally – by the Police Accountability Commission (which may eventually have a name change, too…)?


      1. Bill Marshall

        Funny thing, when you think of it, Alan… they are actually ‘joined at the hip’ (you forgot ‘parking’)… except maybe the sock puppet part… that might need a separate Commission!

        Or, we could just have a CC… nah, that’d never fly…

        1. Bill Marshall

          Technically, only the Planning Commission (and personnel board) is advised/required by State law… all others are optional and/or superfluous… look @ staff resources to ‘person’ each, as to research, preparing staff reports (often copious), responding to pubic/commissioner questions, sitting in @ meetings, preparing minutes, etc., etc., etc.

          It’s a financial/governance choice… many City employees (staffing commissions) were classified as MGT to avoid OT, but then granted mgt leave, and boosts in salary… you pay for what you want…

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