By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Tomorrow is Election Day. I could be wrong, but in Yolo County I only see one race that we have been following that could go either way—that is Measure H. Meanwhile I expect the incumbents to win relatively easily in the DA’s race and sheriff’s race as well as Lucas Frerichs in the open supervisor seat.
Measure H: Toss up, maybe lean toward No
In a way, this mailer says it all. You have the establishment of Davis for the most part lining up behind the project. It narrowly failed last time, it had a 10 to 1 spending advantage this time, it’s smaller than the previous version.
In most places, that would be enough to allow the measure to coast to an easy victory—but in Davis, if anything much of that actually works against it.
One of the big factors in Measure H losing in 2020 was the fact that, during COVID, the campaign had to shift away from its tried and true recipe for success—they could not walk and knock. They also suffered from the fact that most students were not on campus at the time. That’s not a problem this time around as the campaign says it has knocked on 30,000 doors and made over 30,000 calls.
And yet, with a likely very low turnout election, the key question will be who will return their ballots and, in Davis, where you start out with 40 percent of the voters against, it seems likely that the always voting folks are going to oppose the project.
The biggest issue in 2020 was traffic. If you look at the map of returns in 2020, the closer a voter was to Mace Blvd., the higher the percentage of No votes.
This time, the campaign feels like the issue of traffic has at least been muted. The Yes campaign has pumped the fact that, with mitigations, traffic along Mace Blvd. improves over the present conditions. I sense a good deal of skepticism on that claim. But it is true that the traffic issue for whatever reason is considerably lower in intensity and volume than it was two years ago.
That said, if Measure H goes down, there will be a lot of finger-pointing at the fact that Councilmember Dan Carson filed a writ against the ballot arguments put out by the opposition. That has triggered charges of attempts to suppress free speech, and, while hyperbole, the optics of a sitting councilmember doing this are horrendous.
It is hard to know just how deep that penetrates into the electorate once you get past the people living and breathing this stuff.
In the end, I think this is a close call, probably a toss up, but I tend to lean toward the No side once against defeating the measure.
Reisig Clear Favorite for Fifth Term
Four years ago, I was stunned by just how close Dean Johansson made the DA’s race.
Here’s the thing—Reisig went negative against challenger Cynthia Rodriguez almost from the start. He clearly didn’t have a lot of dirt on her. He hit on experience, which is fair given that he’s been a prosecutor for a long time, and THE DA since 2007—though as Rodriguez points out, that’s a two-edged sword and you don’t get to claim out-of-control crime and be the incumbent at the same time.
The lower shots were her taking money (one of the donations returned) from people or families of people of those who have been convicted of crimes. As I have pointed out, what is a $500 donation really going to do in a race like this? It’s not a real issue but the fact that it has appeared in various forms in official and third party pieces is telling.
Does that suggest that this race is a lot closer that we think?
As one observer put it, “Usually that is a sign of desperation and fear of loss in a campaign. However with this bunch I think it is just standard operating procedure. They don’t want to just win at all cost. They want to totally destroy their opponents. This is another reason they should not remain in positions with power over the lives of others.”
That’s where I think we are. Basically the rest of the county is going to outflank Davis here. Just two current elected officials in Davis are backing Reisig—Supervisor Jim Provenza and School Board Member Betsy Hyder.
But Reisig has a lot more going than he did in 2018 when he kind of took things for granted. He has spent a lot of time and energy appearing to address key criticisms from four years ago. He has built a credible—at least on paper—as a moderate reformer. More important perhaps is the fact that the political terrain has shifted a bit and progressive prosecution policies are in the crosshairs of the voters.
Add it all up, and I think Reisig wins by at least 10 points, maybe more.
Sheriff Lopez a clear favorite for reelection
It is interesting to note that the Deputy Sheriff Association is backing the opposition here. Still, most of the establishment is backing the incumbent. It’s hard to imagine him going down. It remains worth keeping an eye on at this point, but for now we think Sheriff Lopez will cruise to reelection.
Lucas Frerichs a clear favorite in the open supervisor’s seat.
Don Saylor is stepping down after three terms on the Board of Supervisors. That leaves an open seat in Davis (and Winters). There was a lot of speculation about who would run. The obvious successor was Lucas Frerichs, a three-term council member, who will become Davis Mayor shortly, but like his mentor and predecessor here, likely won’t serve more than six months or so at the helm.
He is facing Juliette Beck, a local activist, opponent of Measure H, whose principal issue is climate change. While climate change is perhaps the biggest global issue of our time—or at least tied for first with several others—the chief job for the board of Supervisors is social services.
One point that Beck has tried to make, similar to Linda Deos two years ago when she took on Provenza, is the lack of women at the county level. We’ve pointed this out a number of times—every elected county official right now is a man. Most of the appointed leaders are men as well. Only the Public Defender and Chief Health Officer are women among the major county figures. (And I’ve pointed out only two of 11 judges in Yolo are women as well, even though that’s more of a state issue).
But experience appears to matter more. Provenza was able to easily prevail in 2020 after going to a runoff. Frerichs has the huge advantage here as well.
Issues aside, Lucas Frerichs has been on the council for a decade, was heavily involved in politics locally for a decade before that, and has a tremendous advantage in networks and name recognition.