By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Going into the fall election, I think most people, myself included, expected that Measure H/DiSC would play an oversized role in the city council elections. After all, both incumbents were closely associated with both DISC Campaigns from 2020 and 2022 and seemingly at adds with portions of the community on issues of housing and development.
Whether that strategy would actually work remained (perhaps remains) to be seen. As we have previously noted, Davis has a history of voting no on Measure J projects and then having turned around—sometimes on the very same ballot—and elected and reelected the people who put those measures on the ballot.
The slow growth forces have taken the position that even putting measures on the ballot is a reason to change the guard, while the voters seem to take the position—at least tacitly—of no harm, no foul. We have Measure J for a reason as a brake against projects we don’t like, and we’ll vote for the leaders we want.
While we could probably have a great discussion on the proper tactics here, the campaign has morphed into something where it feels like even Measure H is an afterthought. We have now seen attacks on one incumbent based on a more than 20-year-old family dispute that unfortunately ended up in the legal system, and another candidate for the possible misuse of emails.
Yes, emails. What is this, 2016? Harkening back to the worst aspects of one of the lowest periods of recent American History? Have we now devolved to “but his emails”?
You would think there weren’t grave issues at stake for this community. This campaign season has unfortunately taken us to new lows.
I was reading a letter from a long-time prominent member of the Davis community. It was a letter attacking Gloria Partida and supporting Adam Morrill.
It says he has “stepped up to run for council because he can offer new and innovative solutions to many city problems.” Unfortunately, it doesn’t list any (other than he “has pledged to take the time to review the City Council packets before voting on them”) and instead attacks Gloria Partida, this time for her voting record.
At least this letter is focusing on issues rather than more personal attacks, but this is still a negative piece. We don’t get to read about Morrill’s vision for Davis or what he would do to fix our housing and fiscal shortfalls, how he will boost our schools, or really much of anything (he has laid out some of these points in community forums, but the community discussion is focused elsewhere).
Instead, we read a five-point list of what Partida did wrong:
She voted for: 1) putting the badly planned DISC project on the ballot twice, (then rejected by voters twice); 2) the seven-story University Mall project with its significant impacts on surrounding neighborhoods; 3) simply moving the problematic Arroyo Park zipline an insignificant distance from its current location, which doesn’t remedy the impacts to the neighborhood; 4) the recent Pacifico proposal despite neighborhood concerns that the crime and other problems related to the project over past years haven’t been addressed; and 5) the ill-conceived CAAP residential electrification mandate.
Basically, Partida voted to put the DISC project on the ballot—which the community voted down. She voted to approve the University Mall project which, because it was downsized by the council due to community concerns, is no longer financially viable for the developer and they have said now that it will be commercial only, a fact that all of the candidates at a recent forum lamented.
The zipline issue is unfortunate for the neighbors living near that park. But curiously the city found overwhelming support overall for the zipline except for people living right near the park and who have to listen to the noise, and Partida’s district is largely unaffected by the issue.
The Pacifico proposal is also an unfortunate situation. The city has been dealing with it since Partida took office. In fact, the very night that the community showed up at Montgomery Elementary School library in early 2019 was the night that Natalie Corona was shot and killed. The city has since been working with the county and putting forth RFPs to attempt to resolve the problem. That’s another unfortunate situation that does not impact the residents of Partida’s district.
Meanwhile with respect to CAAP, the council has not voted on it yet, and the city just removed the electrification requirement to make it voluntary.
As Partida put it at a recent forum: “Our climate action and adaptation plan, right now, is out for citizen input. And I think that we have all heard loud and clear that electrification at point of sale is something that is not acceptable. And I think I’m on board with everybody else when I say that it makes more sense to, you know, do this at the end of the useful life.”
Several of the issues do not directly impact Partida’s district (zipline, Pacifico and even University Commons), so this really comes down to whether the voters of the Fourth District are interested in punishing Partida for her support of the projects—something that previously has not occurred.
In the meantime, the community continues to face a number of issues that are of crucial importance which are unfortunately not getting nearly enough play in this race. We are going to have to see our council make the tough choices on issues like affordable housing, the downtown, climate change, homelessness, and a whole lot more—shouldn’t those issues be what this campaign is about rather than emails and long-ago messy family disputes?
I would certainly like to hear more about everyone’s ideas for addressing the critical issues of the day rather than getting another mudslinging submission from various political actors in the community. But I guess that’s the unfortunate legacy of district elections.