By David M. Greenwald
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.