Two Letters on the City Council Election

Davis City Hall with an old style bicycle statue out front

Davis City Hall with an old style bicycle statue out frontEditor’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.

Donna Neville Knows Planning/Affordable Housing

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.

Endorsement Letter For City Council D3 Election

By Larry Guenther

I live in District 3, and I emphatically support Francesca Wright for Davis City Council.

We are governed by a representative democracy. On a City Council of five members, those individuals need to represent many and diverse groups. So the primary traits I like to see in a Council Member are the ability to A) listen, and B) create win-win solutions from situations where there appears to be adversity. People talk about candidates having a specific ‘expertise.’ My view is that the expertise required of a true representative is the ability to bring people of different views together to come up with solutions that work for everyone.

As a member of the Tree Commission, I signed the open letter on “Improving City of Davis Decision Making,” written by other Davis Commissioners in 2020. This letter laid out many great steps to improve engagement with the Commissions and to improve the outcomes of issues that came before City Council. I felt then and, as a current commissioner, I still feel that there are fundamental issues with the participation of City Commissions and that these recommendations would address these issues very well. There has yet to be any movement on these recommendations.  I believe that Francesca Wright actually appreciates the Commission system and the expertise the members of these commissions bring to the table. As someone who I have witnessed really listening to people and incorporating their ideas into a final plan of action, I have no doubt that Francesca Wright would move forward on really engaging the Commissions and using them to their full potential.

There is also the issue of the status quo and the ‘establishment.’ Francesca Wright believes that the status quo ‘needs improvement’ and she is definitely not part of the establishment. I truly feel that the City of Davis no longer deserves the reputation of a place of innovation. As one fellow Commissioner quipped, “Davis puts the ‘no’ in innovation.” And while Village Homes and bike paths are great, they were innovations 50 and 60 years ago. There is precious little in recent history that is innovative. So from the standpoint of change, there is no comparison on who would advocate for change from the status quo.

A quote from Alan Hirsch in “The Neighborhood Voting Flier,” is spot on: “Francesca’s skills in coalition and consensus building are needed for our community to move forward on a wide range of issues–from housing and budgets to land use and economic development. These skills will be critical in developing and implementing a long overdue new General Plan.”

I worked extensively with Francesca in Yolo People Power and I have never witnessed a group so diverse and so passionate about their own issues. I’ve never seen larger potential for ‘missing the moment.’ Francesca truly led that group to come together and produce a set of work that has, quite literally, changed and improved the City of Davis. She listened, she found the common threads, and she led that group to deliver evidence-based, deliverable goals to improve our City.

After the ‘Picnic Day Incident,’ Yolo People Power did the research and advocated for a Police Accountability Commission and an Independent Police Auditor, the model adopted by the City. After the murder of George Floyd, and at the request of the Chair of the Social Services Commission, Yolo People Power recruited a research team and created nine recommendations that the City should adopt to improve public safety – and Police Officer safety. Almost 800 Davis residents signed a letter endorsing these recommendations, and they were adopted by the Joint Subcommittee on Public Safety and recommended to City Council. These are just two of the many reasons she won the 2021 Thong Hy Huynh Memorial Award in Civil Rights Advocacy.

Francesca listens to all, keeps things moving forward, and advocates for the best plan that works for everyone. And isn’t that who we want on City Council?

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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