Commentary: Will Arnold Not Seeking a Third Term Least Kept Secret in Davis

Will Arnold

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – Last week Will Arnold did what everyone knew he was going to do—he announced he wasn’t going to seek a third term.  Frankly, many of us were surprised when he announced he would run for a second term in 2020.

We will leave to another column an evaluation of his tenure on council.  I will note that he served eight years on the council during what turned out to be a difficult time, both in the community—having to deal with the tragic shooting of Natalie Corona—and with the disruption of COVID.  And he was mayor in 2023 when we had the stabbings that devastated the community, followed by a series of bomb threats.

I know it was a challenging time personally for him, with a young family and multiple young children each with their own particular needs.

It also gives us a chance, as we begin to swing into campaign season for the city, to evaluate where things stand.

In 2020, Will Arnold was able to top a three-candidate field with just under 50 percent of the vote, besting both Dillan Horton and Colin Walsh.

Anticipating this would be an open seat, there are three announced candidates—Linda Deos who has already run unsuccessfully for both the city council (2018) and county supervisor (2020), Dillan Horton who ran in 2020 and finished second, and Victor Lagunes, who is the president of DTA.

This sets up, quite frankly, a pretty intriguing field of candidates.  It should be fun to see how the candidates come down on the issues.

Clearly, with as many announced candidates as there are, they were anticipating an open seat.  And that’s what has happened.

There are two other district seats that will be up for election.

For the third time in four years, there will be an election in District 3.  Lucas Frerichs won the initial election in 2020.  He then resigned at the beginning of 2023 to become a county supervisor.  And Donna Neville won a special election last May to represent the district for the remainder of Frerichs’ term.

Now she will be up for election for own seat.  There has not been an announced candidate as of yet to oppose her.

In the meantime, Mayor Josh Chapman will face reelection in November.  He topped a four-candidate field in 2020.  There has been no announcement so far as to an opponent for him.

So for now, all eyes will be on Will Arnold’s seat as three candidates will vie for that seat.

Another reason why the move by Will Arnold is not a huge surprise is that there really have not been a lot of candidates who have sought a third term.

In my time of doing this, which now goes back nearly 20 years, there have been only two people who served three terms—Sue Greenwald and Lucas Frerichs, who stepped down after 10 years when he was elected to the Board of Supervisors.

In fact, few people have even attempted to run for three terms.  Stephen Souza ran and lost in 2012.  Rochelle Swanson ran for a third non-consecutive term and lost in 2020.  No one has served more than three terms in the last 20 years; Sue Greenwald ran for a fourth term, but lost.

It might also surprise people, given how competitive Davis politics has been, to recognize how few incumbents have been defeated in the last 24 years.

When Dan Carson was defeated by Bapu Vaitla in 2022, that marked just the fourth time this century a sitting incumbent has been defeated seeking reelection.

Before Carson, you have to go back to 2012 when two incumbents—Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza—were defeated.  Winning that year were Dan Wolk, Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee—a formidable field for sure with Wolk, the son of the sitting state senator and a future judge, Lucas Frerichs who would win three terms and become county supervisor, and Brett Lee, himself a future mayor and two-term councilmember.

Before that you have to go back to 2004 when Michael Harrington was defeated after the infamous Gidaro letter.

There also have not been a lot of candidates who have only sought one term.  Ted Puntillo from 2002 to 2006, Lamar Heystek from 2006 to 2010 and Robb Davis from 2014 to 2018.

So, for Will Arnold, serving two terms is really not that unusual.

The one thing I wonder… once upon a time, Maynard Skinner served two terms on council, then raised his family, and served two more terms on council.  Given Will Arnold’s history in this community and his relatively young age, it is possible that once his kids are raised, he comes back into public life.

Time will tell.

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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