Special to the Vanguard
Davis, CA – Donna Neville filed her nomination papers Thursday afternoon, officially declaring her candidacy to run for the Davis City Council District 3 seat. Donna is a longtime Davis resident and is active in the community.
As to why she is seeking this position, “I love this community, which has given so much to me and my family, and I want to give back. My years of professional experience working to make state and local government programs more accountable and more effective, combined with my community volunteer experience, have given me the skills and perspective needed to address the challenges facing Davis. If elected, I would work collaboratively to develop feasible and creative solutions that result in real change. It would be an honor for me to bring my prior experiences and commitment to the community to the work of city council.”
Donna’s top priorities include ensuring that the infrastructure and services we all depend on and appreciate—our roads, parks, bike paths, greenbelts—are funded and well-maintained. This is just one place where her strong background in public finance will come into play.
According to Donna, “If we are going to continue to provide the level of services we have, we need to generate additional revenue. The revitalization of our downtown by implementing our recently approved downtown plan is just one way that I will promote economic development.”
She will dedicate herself to promoting fiscal and climate resiliency. One of her plans includes supporting climate resiliency hubs: support centers that provide needed services during a climate emergency. Donna will work hard to address the complex issues surrounding homelessness and developing practical solutions for more affordable housing.
She explained, “There is so much we can do, ranging from identifying funding to support the Housing Trust Fund, which will act as an incentive to build more affordable housing, to ensuring that we provide the right forms of support to those who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. I am impressed by the work being done by our newly formed city Department of Social Services and Housing and will ensure it has the funding and resources it needs to be successful.”
If elected, she intends to make herself available and will listen carefully to community concerns. She looks forward to putting her experience and passion for Davis into action to create and implement practical solutions for real change.
After completing law school at UCD’s King Hall in 1990, Donna spent nearly three decades as a lawyer in state government. First, she worked for the Office of the Legislative Counsel, where she provided legal and policy advice to legislators and their staff on two key areas: the environment and public education. According to Donna, “For someone who is passionate about public policy and wants to learn how to solve complex public policy problems, this was a dream job. I learned everything I could about environmental and education law as well as the budget process and saw firsthand how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.”
After that, she went to work for the California State Auditor, who serves as the chief government accountability officer for the State of California. There, she managed the legal division and advised teams of experts who gathered information and evaluated the performance of virtually every state and local program in California.
This work was non-partisan, independent, and fact-based, and resulted in specific recommendations that made government programs throughout the state more efficient and effective. This background in government accountability and program improvement makes Donna well-positioned to step in and address the challenges facing Davis.
Donna also has a proven track record of giving back to the community. She served as chair of the city’s Finance and Budget Commission and made specific recommendations that saved the city money. She also chaired the school district Measure M Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee where she oversaw expenditures under this $150 million school facilities construction program and reported to the public on the committee’s findings.
Currently, she is board president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Yolo County (NAMI) where she has successfully advocated for funding that supports individuals with mental health conditions. As of January, she moved from the city Finance and Budget Commission to the city Planning Commission.
“I love this community. This is where we raised our son and where he participated in soccer, little league, the city basketball program, Camp Putah, high school lacrosse, you name it… We loved living here where he could safely bike to school every day. This is also where I cared for my parents, who were welcomed by the senior community when they moved to Davis in their late 70’s. This is also where my husband, who is an ecologist and professor at UCD, developed his career restoring natural habitats in the region and mentoring the next generation of ecologists.
“This is the time for me to give back and work hard to make Davis a more welcoming, sustainable, and affordable place to live.”