Council to Discuss District 3 Vacancy When They Return Next Week

Vice Mayor Lucas Frerichs

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – When council returns next week following the winter break, they will be minus a familiar face as Lucas Frerichs will have stepped down earlier in the day to be sworn in as the newest County Supervisor.

That means that one of the first orders of business will be for the council to determine how they will fill the seat.

Back in July there was overwhelming pressure on council to call for a special election.  The time line is extraordinarily tight however.  The council will have to act in the first week of January to request that the Board of Supervisors call for a Special Election.

If the Board misses the window, the next possible date for an all-mail ballot would be August 29 – hardly a desirable date toward the end of summer but prior to the start of UC Davis’ Fall Quarter.

Even as an all-mail ballot, the cost will be considerable at $263 thousand borne by the city’s General Fund.

The vacancy was created when Lucas Frerichs, who term did not expire until 2024, ran for Yolo County Supervisor, District 2 in June and won.

He will resign on January 3.  The Council held an exploratory discussion on July 19, but as there was no vacancy at that time, they were unable to take any actions. Once the vacancy exists, the Council is required by law to take action within 60 days.

At the time of the discussion in July, it was unknown the fate of the two incumbents facing reelection in November.  Since that point, Gloria Partida was reelected, but Dan Carson was defeated by Bapu Vaitla who was seated at the previous council meeting.

In 2011, Don Saylor resigned his seat when he was elected to Supervisor.  The council at that time appointed Dan Wolk in a close vote to fill the vacancy.

But things have changed since then, including the fact that there are district elections and the four remaining council members are now all from different districts.

During the discussion in July, Gloria Partida opined, “I am uncomfortable with appointing somebody for a two-year term.  I think the two years is a very long time to have someone that was not, that was not elected.”

Will Arnold, who takes over as Mayor, also indicated he was leaning toward a special election, especially with the new reality of district elections.

One option that seemed to have some support in July was a hybrid approach.  The council could call a special election and appoint an individual immediately to fill the vacancy.  That would avoid potential 2-2 deadlocks for the first six months or so of 2023.

Inder Khalsa, the city attorney, noted, “It is actually the Davis Municipal Code, which allows you to take this hybrid approach that is not necessarily something that other cities do.”

The staff notes, “If Council is interested in this two-step process, staff recommends an interim appointment occur as soon as possible.”

The council could informally ask potential appointees to state that they do not intend to seek election—but Khalsa also pointed out they would have no way to prevent someone appointed from filing papers.

However, the timing may be such that the candidates will have to file before the appointment process could be completed.

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 Comment

  1. Sharla Cheney

    I know that people want an election. As a voter in this District, and after the experience of the last election, I think I would be OK with an appointment for this District for the next two years. I was not able to vote in the  last election (outside my district for the two city Council positions and only one candidate for school board for my district resulted in no election), so I’m already being represented by people I could not vote for.  The cost is an issue for me.  Such a waste for just a short period.

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