Our View

Lovenburg, Peterson and yes on E and H

By From page A10 | November 04, 2012

The issue: Here’s a recap of our recommendations for Tuesday’s election

Whom do we want leading the Davis Board of Education through the next four challenging years? Of the five candidates seeking election Tuesday, we recommend Susan Lovenburg and Nancy Peterson.

LOVENBURG HAS impressed us during her five years on the board as a voice of reason, compassion and independence. She listens carefully, does her homework and then votes her conscience — that’s all any Davis voter can ask.

And while a newcomer’s perspective is always welcome and invigorating (see Peterson, below), there’s much to be said for historical knowledge and a long-term view. Lovenburg has cast many difficult votes during her tenure, and the experience she brings from those decisions will be important as Davis — and, we hope, the rest of the state — begins to invest in educational excellence once again.

Lovenburg has been a leader in making clear, accurate budget information available to the public. She worked with community volunteers to create District Dollars (www.districtdollars.org), a web-based program that shows how the Davis school district receives money and how it is spent.

And while she may sound all about dollars and cents, Lovenburg’s heart is in the classroom. She’s committed to making sure every child in Davis has the opportunity to reach their full potential. She has a long and deep record of school site service and, as the mother of three daughters, is familiar with all levels of the Davis school system.

We are proud to endorse Lovenburg’s candidacy once again.

PETERSON IS the perfect blend of experience and heart. She has demonstrated through her many years of service at school sites, on district advisory committees and as president of the Davis High School Blue & White Foundation that she can learn, understand and lead.

But her passion for the needs of all of the children of Davis is what sets her apart. We’re impressed with her ideas, and with the intellect and work ethic she’ll draw on to guide our school district through the challenges ahead.

Peterson has garnered rave reviews from those who have worked with her on numerous school initiatives, from the Montgomery Elementary School Site Council to the Davis Bridge Educational Foundation. They talk about her energy, enthusiasm, listening skills, leadership, courage, dedication, analytical skills, wisdom and fairness.

We would add “heart” to that wonderful list. We feel confident that Peterson can make the tough decisions a school board member must be prepared to make, but she’ll do it with the best interests of all Davis schoolchildren in mind.

Measure E

With Measure E on Tuesday’s ballot, we have an opportunity once again to ensure that we maintain the educational excellence Davis has come to expect. What? We’re calling another parcel tax an opportunity?

Yes. The $204 a year we’ll pay under Measure E — that’s only $17 a month, or 56 cents a day — is a small price for what we receive: music, art, foreign languages, career technical education, science, math and reading support, libraries and counselors.

If Measure E doesn’t pass by the necessary two-thirds vote, the Davis school district will lose $3.2 million annually generated by the tax. That kind of revenue drop would mean the elimination of 58 full-time positions. We can’t afford that, on top of the 100-plus positions already slashed over the past few years.

AND WE CAN’T let the state off the hook. We also need to vote yes on Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s temporary taxes to fund education and public safety. If Prop. 30 fails, Measure E has a fall-back mechanism (an additional $242-per-year parcel tax) to prevent the immediate loss of $3.7 million to our schools.

As Measure E supporters say on their website, “People move to Davis for our schools, but we can’t take them for granted. At this point, we need to start looking to ourselves to ensure that our public schools continue to be a driver of our strong community life.”

We couldn’t have said it better.

Measure H

Today, government at any level is about efficiency: how to provide high-quality, reliable service for the lowest cost possible. In Yolo County, which has been hit as hard as any level of government by the economic downturn, voters have an opportunity to turn a goal of efficiency into a reality. Converting the elected office of county auditor-controller/treasurer-tax collector into an appointed director of finance will help the county cut costs and ensure prudent management of taxpayers’ money at the same time.

MEASURE H marks the third time in the past 26 years that voters have faced this issue on the ballot. Similar measures were defeated in 1986 and 1998. But times are different now and adequate fiscal protections are in place to make this change one definitely worth supporting.

The move essentially would combine the fiscal functions currently performed by the county administrator’s office — budgeting and financial planning — with those of the office of Auditor-Controller/Treasurer-Tax Collector Howard Newens, which include most countywide accounting, auditing, collections, cash management and investment activity.

There is great merit to combining those functions; indeed, a pilot project over the past year between Newens’ office and that of County Administrator Patrick Blacklock allowed the county to keep vacant two financial analyst positions, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Newens supports Measure H, saying the minimum requirements for running for the office are not sufficient for the highly technical nature of the job now, which requires expertise and knowledge of both county operations and financial matters.

Many counties in California have led the way, switching from elected to appointed offices. Most cities in Yolo County use appointed finance directors as well. It’s time for Yolo County to take this necessary step forward.


Debbie Davis

Debbie Davis

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