Analysis: Council Expected to Name a New Mayor, but a Vacancy on Council Looms

Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Davis will have its first transition of mayoral succession under rules adopted in November 2020.  Mayor Gloria Partida was selected in June 2020.  Her term as mayor expires on July 1.  She and Dan Carson will be up for reelection this fall.

The council, in transitioning from the old system to the new system, installed Partida as Mayor, as she would have been when elected in 2018 as the top vote-getter.  That system is no longer relevant with a district election system.

The next mayor, selected in July 2022, will serve a year and a half through December 2023.  At that point, subsequent mayors will serve single-year terms January through December, beginning in 2024.

Council noted that selection criteria will be: seniority, consensus building skills, experience presiding other legislative bodies, and “other factors that promote good governance practices.”

Widely expected to be named the next mayor is Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs, who has served on council the longest, having been elected in June of 2012.

A key question, however, will be how long Frerichs ends up serving.  The final votes are in, and Lucas Frerichs appears to have been elected to the county supervisor seat held by Don Saylor.  The votes have not been certified yet.

Frerichs would take office in January, at which point he would ostensibly resign from the council.

The council cannot take action in advance of an actual vacancy.  The city council will likely have an agenda item on July 19 to outline a process for filling the vacancy—though they cannot take action until there is an actual vacancy.

That would seem to preclude a scenario whereby the council calls for a special election for November in anticipation of a potential vacancy.

The last time this happened, ironically, was when Don Saylor was elected to the county board back in 2010.  Saylor was almost in the identical position, just becoming mayor, and served as mayor for six months before resigning in January.

The council then held an appointment and appointed Dan Wolk for the remainder of Saylor’s term.  Dan Wolk then ran on his own in June 2012, and was the top vote-getter to become mayor himself in 2014.

Some have suggested that Frerichs could resign effective July 19, the council could call a special election that would be held in November, and then appoint Frerichs to remain on the council until the election results were certified.

Under Government Code section 36512, if a vacancy occurs in an elective office, the council shall “within 60 days from the commencement of the vacancy, either fill the vacancy by appointment or call a special election to fill the vacancy.”

If the council calls a special election, “the special election shall be held on the next regularly established election date not less than 114 days from the call of the special election. A person elected to fill a vacancy holds office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent.”

If Frerichs resigned in January, the soonest a special election would be held would be June 2023.

On the other hand, if the council fills it by appointment, there are two options by state law.

“If the vacancy occurs in the first half of a term of office and at least 130 days prior to the next general municipal election, the person appointed to fill the vacancy shall hold office until the next general municipal election that is scheduled 130 or more days after the date the council is notified of the vacancy,” the government code reads.  “The person elected to fill the vacancy shall hold office for the unexpired balance of the term of office.”

However, “If the vacancy occurs in the first half of a term of office, but less than 130 days prior to the next general municipal election, or if the vacancy occurs in the second half of a term of office, the person appointed to fill the vacancy shall hold office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent.”

The city of Davis, however, has its own code, which allows for either an appointment or a special election, but notes, “A person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy holds office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent.”

Moreover, the code section 2.01.120 (b) notes, “If the council determines to call a special election to fill the vacancy, the council may appoint to fill the vacancy and provide that a person so appointed holds office only until the date of a special election called to fill the remainder of the term…”

That would seem to allow an immediate resignation, a call for election, and a temporary appointment.  Whether they could accept a resignation of Frerichs with the condition that he be appointed is a question that was not immediately known.

In 2020, the school board had a vacancy when Cindy Pickett resigned to take a new job.  In June 2020, the school board appointed Joy Klineberg to fill that vacancy.  However, voters, unhappy with the process or the outcome, petitioned to force a special election, which they did for the November 2020 when Vigdis Asmundson was elected to the school board.

The Vanguard has heard but not confirmed that this option would not be available should the council go the appointment route in January.

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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6 Comments

    1. Bill Marshall

      Why is this man smiling?

      Perhaps because he can have it “both ways”?  As did Saylor? [the “it’s all about me, but I’ll cloak it as ‘serving’ the community” thingy]

      As for me, if I was in such a position (ain’t ever going to happen!), I’m 99.954[+/-] % sure I’d resign from CC when the votes are ‘certified’, giving up my stipend and the City coverage of my medical (leave to others to fully disclose what the “total comp” of CC members is), etc., to best serve the community that I profess to serve, by allowing the position to be filled by an election within the district I purported to serve.

      But that’s me, my scruples, and why should I expect others to have the same…

      Not as a quid pro quo, but perhaps with a ‘wink and a nod’, I think the article contains the best solution:

      … Frerichs could resign effective July 19, the council could call a special election that would be held in November, and then appoint Frerichs to remain on the council until the election results were certified.

      Betting the chance of that is about 0.00547 (+/-)…

      Time will tell…

      [with ‘district elections, should not the first consideration be given to the one who placed 2nd in the previous election? Not my district, so don’t much care, but more logical than the ephemeral,

      “… selection criteria will be: seniority, consensus building skills, experience presiding other legislative bodies, and “other factors that promote good governance practices.”

      That criteria is ripe for political intrigue and abuse…]

      1. Bill Marshall

        Seniority:   “Age and Teachery will beat Youth and Skill, any day”… saw that on someone’s baseball cap, many years ago, and it has more than a kernel of truth…

        Consensus building skills:  “you are indebted to me, so if I vote for you, you are ‘mine’ for your vote on my issues… do we have consensus?”

        Experience presiding other legislative bodies:  “So, you are an aspiring politician?  Welcome aboard!  Pretend it is about serving the public, and always remember, it’s all about you… “… and/or, “Yeah, wait your turn, and you’ll get to ‘preside’ some day… ‘club rules’ “… and/or, “No ‘newbies’ allowed!”

        “Other factors that promote good governance practices.”:   “Do we agree with your views regarding what ‘good governance’ is? If so, you have a leg up” [if anyone can show a rational, scientific, detached way, without personal bias, of what “good governance” is, please share…]

        Just fodder for thought…

        1. David Greenwald

          Reading between the lines it seems they are most likely going to rotate the Mayor but they want the flexibility and discretion to skip someone…

        2. Bill Marshall

           but they want the flexibility and discretion to skip someone…

          As they did Debbie Nichols-Poulos years ago… going back to the old regime… newbies might miss that era… raw politics…

          But, I can see where a PoliSci graduate would easily defend that old practice… depending whether those in power agreed with their ‘views’… reminds me of the Nov 2020 election for president…

          After all, the ‘powers that be’ wanted “the flexibility and discretion to skip someone”, duly elected, as we saw on Jan 6, 2021… and all the unsuccessful lawsuits that followed the Nov 2020 election.

          If we were a ‘charter City’, and chose to, we could directly elect a Mayor every two years… de minimus costs…

          they want the flexibility and discretion to skip someone…

          “THEY” means incumbents… ‘flexibility and discretion’ means opportunity for abuse/political intrigue… I’m only an engineer… a ‘problem solver’ … I defer to the PoliSci guy…

          As we saw (those of us who actually attended the CC meeting where this happened), Mike Corbett [likely with a violation of the Brown Act, but have no concrete evidence, so won’t go there] was elected Mayor, when by tradition it would have gone to Debbie Nichols-Poulos… raw politics…

          But PoliSci majors see the world differently than I do… they are always right (or left/ “progressive”, and/or opportunistic, etc.)

           

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