My View: A Tale of Three Endorsements – Which Vision of the Future of Davis Is the Right One for You?

By David M. Greenwald

A lot of people say—I don’t listen to endorsements, I vote for the person I want to, not because some group says so.  But of course.  That’s not why endorsements are important to follow.  Endorsements are important to follow because they tell you something about the candidates and how they interact with the political landscape.

This week, in the Davis City Council race, we have had three sets of endorsements, in which eight of the nine candidates have received one.  Poor Connor Gorman needs someone to endorse him.

We have three different endorsers.  The Sierra Club, which seem to have endorsed primarily based on Measure B.  For some reason they didn’t endorse Larry Guenther in the 3rd District.

Then we have Indivisible Yolo—which is part of the nation-wide progressive advocacy groups that came together to oppose the Trump agenda.

Finally, this weekend, the Davis Enterprise endorsed their slate of candidates.

As we reported on Friday, the Sierra Club endorsed Colin Walsh and Kelsey Fortune.  The group also came out against DISC—Measure B.

On Thursday, Indivisible Yolo announced their slate of candidates.  You can think of this as the progressive activist slate of candidates.  For council they endorsed: Dillan Horton, Larry Guenther, and Josh Chapman.

Finally, over the weekend, the Davis Enterprise offered their endorsements.  They appear to be endorsing the status quo—the two incumbents, Will Arnold and Lucas Frerichs.  In the 5th, they endorsed Rochelle Swanson, who was a two-term council member and has only been out of office two years.

I am oversimplifying a bit.  The Sierra Club wasn’t just about DISC, they had the *burning* issues of wood burning and fluoridated water.

Indivisible has not put out a press release—so we don’t know their criteria.  But they do have a nifty flyer.

The Enterprise endorsement, I do find rather ironic.  They start with: “It’s a new era in Davis politics. As if the coronavirus pandemic didn’t make things strange enough, we’re also voting for City Council by district for the first time.”

So of course they endorse the one person for a second term and two for a third term.

They argue: “One thing has not changed, however; Davis is still fortunate to have a bevy of well-qualified, well-informed and enthusiastic office-seekers looking to serve.”

On Will Arnold they argue that housing was his priority in his first term: “We addressed that head-on. We approved a number of rental (market rate and affordable) housing projects and I’m very proud of that.”

Now they say that “he has his eye on more diverse housing projects.”

The bottom line: “For his commitment to the community, for his level-headed approach to problem-solving, and for his compassion and enthusiasm, we are proud to back Will Arnold for District 2.”

In District 3, they are “impressed by the work Lucas Frerichs has put in.”

They write: “The impression one gets speaking to Frerichs is high energy and rapid-fire delivery of ideas. Like Arnold, he’s been a part of the council’s transition into a more businesslike and effective entity.”

In the South Davis seat, they argue in “South Davis, attitudes are different on the matter of district elections. Where most Davis voters (and politicians) are, at best, ambivalent about the change, those south of Interstate 80 are embracing an opportunity to emerge from what they see as decades of neglect in local politics.”

This is where Rochelle Swanson enters the picture, having served two terms and “energized by the possibility of bringing more attention to South Davis issues, she’s reapplying for her old job.”

They write: “Her time on the council was marked by recovery from a recession and turmoil over policing. Davis, all of Davis, could use her experience on those matters.”

Whether the Enterprise knew it or not, they frame this election as one between experience versus change.  The Enterprise here opted for experience over change.

That is what makes this race more interesting than most.  Do we need the experience to guide us through these times of COVID and economic downturn?  Or is this a time for social upheaval where we require new leadership to address issues like policing and systemic racism?

Or, as I write this, we are once again enveloped in smoke for yet another week as summer has turned to fall.  Perhaps the burning issue is not progressive change to address systemic racism, but change to address the concerns about climate change.

It’s also possible that you care about a variety of these issues and can choose your vote for a variety of candidates that are committed to all the above.

—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. Ron Glick

    I read the Enterprise endorsements and realized I had become the establishment because I would be happy if all three win and felt they got it right.

    But what the heck. I endorse Conner Gorman. More than anybody Conner would add a new and different perspective to the CC.

    1. Bill Marshall

      I’ll join you, Ron G, in endorsing Conner Gorman… after all, I’m not in his district, and I have no vote available for CC in Nov.

      a new and different perspective

      isn’t necessarily a good thing… novel Covid-19 is new, and thus far, different from other viruses…

      But every so often it can be… am thinking Julie Partansky… she was new, and definitely different, and altho’ I had misgivings at the time, she turned out to be an OK CC member… but I’m biased… when she was mayor, got to chat with her a few times person-to-person (not “City business”)… Julie was a great, genuine, warm person, and adequate CC member… she did her homework, and had her GREAT moments…

  2. Matt Williams

    Whether the Enterprise knew it or not, they frame this election as one between experience versus change.

    That indeed is the bottom-line on this election.  Mike Corbett added his voice to the fray in his letter to the editor in the Enterprise, which was taken down because someone did not like its message.  He summed up that “experience” as follows

    The Davis City Council Members have made some decisions over the the last 8 years that have cost the city taxpayer potentially tens of millions of dollars, and they have shown a lack of good judgment in protecting our quality of life.

    Over and over again, the Council has failed to set enough money aside for repaving our streets, leaving them in the poorest condition of any town in Yolo County. That, in addition to their failure to set aside adequate reserve funds, leaves the City with a heavy financial burden as we now must face the financial impacts of Covid-19.
    By any terms this is the worst track record of any Council I have seen in the past. We desperately need new blood. If you are thinking of supporting any of the current or former City Council Members for reelection, you might take the time to personally ask if he or she was responsible for any of the actions noted above.

    Whether Mike is wrong or right about the experience of the three candidates the Enterprise endorsed, he put a very fine point on the change vs. experience argument, and at the same time illustrated the significant amount of polarization that currently exists in our community.

    Ironically, the discussion of the Council election has been almost completely silent.  It appears to be an election that is happening in a room that has had all the air sucked out of it.  How it is all going to turn out is anyone’s guess, but there is little uncertainty that the continuing deterioration of our city streets will continue.

      1. Dave Hart

        David, please, readers like me who are out of it and don’t know what the hidden agenda is need to know the context of both your and Matt’s comments.  Did or did not the Enterprise post and then unpost a letter?  If so, that’s an article in itself!  I feel like the new kid in school here, as usual.

  3. Ron Glick

    “I am oversimplifying a bit.  The Sierra Club wasn’t just about DISC, they had the *burning* issues of wood burning and fluoridated water.”

    The Sierra Club endorses not F ing up the water and people give me a hard time for wanting to know about parking meters.

    Is Colin against fireplace fires or F in the water?

    The irony is that while Alan Pryor continues his crusade against fireplace fires, under the banner of and, aided and abetted  by the Sierra Club, the community is blanketed in smoke from wildland fires. Of course the Sierra Club’s inability to reach consensus with the Timber Industry on fuel reduction on public lands has helped lead us to this particular down ballot California particulate plague.

    An interesting article at Pro Publica yesterday about how anti-housing policies have forced people to have longer commutes, larger carbon footprints and made homes more susceptible to fires  because of them being pushed into the urban wildland interface. Yet the local Sierra Club has opposed 5 of 6 Measure J/R votes. Go figure?

    You can read the Pro Publica article here:

    1. David Greenwald

      “The Sierra Club endorses not F ing up the water and people give me a hard time for wanting to know about parking meters.”

      How about if I give both a hard time?

    2. Dave Hart

      The Sierra Club is not against fluoridation entirely, only using certain formulations, so they aren’t as wacky as one might initially suspect based on a totally no fluoride stance.

  4. Sharla Cheney

    It would be interesting to have these groups publish their process of endorsement at the same time they announce their endorsements.  Do they interview, do they ask campaigns to submit answers via a questionnaire, do they research past performance or look at resumes, do they hold a forum?  Or do they simply tally the votes of their membership and endorse the top vote getters?  Knowing the process would help and also what brought them to a particular conclusion.

    1. Kelsey Fortune

      Great question! The Enterprise held a short interview with the candidates of a district all together. Sierra club sent out an extensive survey which we all completed. Indivisible also sent out an extensive survey.

      The Sierra club has released a statement about what led them to their decision. The other two are more opaque as of now.

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