Editor’s note: These are submitted letters. The views expressed are solely the views of the author and not reflective of the views of the Vanguard or its operations.
Letter by Michael Guss
I have lived in Davis for two years, and the special City Council election is my first chance to vote for a member of the City Council. I will be voting for Donna Neville.
I don’t always agree with Donna Neville, but she came to my apartment complex (largely filled by young professionals and graduate students) and talked with us. She heard our frustrations with the cost of housing in Davis. That she took the time to listen is really what counts.
As a Member of SEIU Local 1000, I’m alarmed by a recent report that shows 69% of state employees don’t make enough money to start a family (https://www.seiu1000.org/article/berkeley-labor-center-report). The combination of slow State salary adjustments and fast rent increases in the Sacramento Metro area made this situation worse.
Many of the people who make up the wonderful community that is Davis are state employees — either working for the university or commuting to Sacramento. Just as we will lose our community if it ever sprawled across the causeway into West Sacramento, we will lose our community if the people who define the Davis community can no longer afford to live here, and instead are forced to pollute our air by driving 40 miles into work from Vallejo.
With the state rejecting the city’s housing element because it does not contain enough affordable housing, we need a representative on the City Council who can listen to all sides and propose reasonable solutions to build more affordable housing in our community in a way that maintains the character of our town — in both the diversity of its landscape and in the diversity of the people who make up the community. Donna Neville is capable of doing that, so I am voting for her. I hope my neighbors will as well.
Letter by Carrie Shaw
Donna Neville has a passion for public service, community advocacy, volunteerism and inclusivity and will be an excellent Davis City Council member.
Donna helped me immensely when I became a commission chair in 2021. She advised me on Brown Act requirements and suggested some productive and inclusive ways our commission could engage new members. I returned Donna’s kindness and expertise when she decided to run for council and wanted to learn more about Measure O and the City’s Open Space Program and strategic plan. The Donna Neville I know is generous, listens carefully, and does her homework!
Donna also has extensive professional and volunteer experience working on broad-based solutions to problems facing local governments generally and the Davis community. In addition, she has the temperament to work productively with a wide range of community advocates, commissioners, city staff, and our local, regional, and state elected officials. She knows how a well-run city should operate and she’s willing to work hard so the City of Davis serves all of its citizens.
Our ballots for this special, mail-in-only election will arrive in our mailboxes this week. I urge my fellow District 3 residents to visit donna4davis.com to learn more about Donna and her ideas for Davis. Then, on or before May 3, make a plan to mail in your vote for Donna Neville for Davis City Council, District 3.
Letter by Darryl Rutherford
I’m voting for Donna Neville for the Davis City Council and urge you to join me. I’ve spent my entire professional life advocating for affordable housing, and I serve on the city Planning Commission with Donna. I know firsthand how hard this work is. It’s more than having a good idea and talking to a few people. It takes tenacity and persistence. I’ve seen Donna in action, and I am impressed by her ability to get things done. If you want to make housing more affordable in Davis you will join me in voting for Donna.
Early in this campaign Donna and I met to discuss housing and land use issues. It was immediately clear to me that she was no neophyte. She had started working on land use issues, including CEQA, in 1991 when she drafted legislation and provided legal advice to members of the legislature and their staff on these issues. She had also developed and taught a course to graduate students on how to be an effective advocate for making changes to environmental and land use policies.
But it didn’t stop there: she worked on an early revision of the Planning and Conservation League’s “Citizens’ Guide to CEQA,” now known as the Community Guide to CEQA. Not only does she know her stuff, but she knows how important it is for the community to understand land use issues and to participate fully in decisions that impact all of us.
When we met, she wanted to talk more about the nuts and bolts of affordable housing including housing for those low to moderate income individuals and families who often fall into the “missing middle” those with too much income for affordable housing and not enough for market rate housing.
She’d already been studying what other cities had done and she asked me to point her to more information that would help her develop solutions. It was clear to me that this was someone who knew how to solve problems. She wasn’t just trying to develop a campaign platform. She was already working to solve problems.
Letter by Helen Roland Cramer
I urge you to vote for Donna Neville on May 2 to fill the vacancy on the Davis City Council. I am an advocate for the unhoused who has worked on homeless and low-income housing issues in Davis for many years, and I am impressed by her understanding of the causes of both chronic homelessness and temporary homelessness that results from an unforeseen crisis, such as a medical emergency. Her understanding has led her to propose specific, practical solutions. She understands that Davis can only deal with the issue by working to provide more housing for low-income workers and families.
Her emphasis on updating the General Plan reflects an understanding of the need for our city to plan and to develop a shared vision of what we want our community to look like over the next decades. She also understands that the General Plan is an important part of dealing with our multifaceted housing crisis.
Donna also advocates for an Economic Development Plan where the city takes a proactive approach to determining how it will diversify our revenue and bring in the much-needed funding to take care of city infrastructure and continue to support city services. Her background in public finance will be invaluable in assisting in this economic development effort.
As someone who taught environmental studies for many years, I know that Donna has a real grasp of the need for action to address climate change. She will depend on the best science and will consider how the costs of various actions needed to address climate change will be borne by different members of the community. Her willingness to listen to everyone in the room will be important in ensuring that the city’s policy is accepted by people living in Davis.
Donna’s considerable professional experience as a government lawyer means that she has the knowledge and the experience to critically evaluating the information put before her. As a city council member, she will clearly, fairly and compassionately weigh the costs and benefits of varying actions before the council.