Davis for Davis. The campaign literature practically writes itself.
Robb Davis, a local public health professional and staunch bicycle advocate, became the first candidate to step forward and officially announce his bid for a seat on the Davis City Council, speaking Saturday in front of a group of about 50 friends and family members who gathered for his announcement.
With principal goals of protecting and sustaining community health, Davis kicked off his campaign in front of the Short-Term Emergency Aid Committee’s food closet and the Davis Community Meals cold weather shelter at Fifth and D streets where homeless, mentally ill and other vulnerable individuals in the community often come looking for help.
“I start here because I believe as a city, we’re only as healthy as we treat and deal with the least of these brothers and sisters of ours,” Davis said. “I believe that.”
Davis, 53, has worked in the field of public health for more than 25 years where he has tackled subjects such as food security, child nutrition and maternal and child health.
With a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in public health, Davis spent about 20 years in French-speaking West Africa as a community developer where he designed, built and implemented programs to help small towns address health-related issues.
Back in Davis with his wife Nancy, with whom he has two children, the first-time City Council candidate works as a consultant in a similar capacity, advising organizations on program planning, curriculum design, monitoring, evaluation, training and sampling methodologies.
Most recently, Davis helped envision the new Neighborhood Court program for the city and UC Davis. Through that program, reparation for smaller crimes is made by focusing on the needs of the victim, the offender and the community through mediation, instead of sending the offender to the traditional court system.
Stemming from his belief in restorative justice, Davis also recently helped put together the Yolo Conflict Resolution Center.
From his time in Africa, to the work he’s undertaken as a public health professional domestically, Davis says his experiences have provided him with the skill set necessary to be an effective council member.
“I think the diversity of experience, to have been able to see how communities work in different parts of the world, to have an understanding that economic health and social health and environmental health … they’re all critical,” Davis said in an interview earlier this week.
Speaking on the issues important to him as a prospective council member Saturday, Davis began by asking the crowd to turn and face north in the direction of the farmland surrounding the community.
While Davis has said that no matter his beliefs he’ll always listen and be open to opposing arguments, his passion for safeguarding the prime agricultural land surrounding Davis is clear.
“We treat food as a commodity, and as a commodity food cannot compete with other land uses,” Davis said. “But you and I know, we all know, that food is not just a commodity, it’s a fundamental resource of life.
“We have the resource to grow food and we have to protect that resource,” Davis added. “I want to make sure that the decisions we make as a city protect that land.”
In addition to preserving ag land, Davis also spoke about generating revenue to uphold the quality of life — the services and amenities — that people have grown to enjoy in the city. Davis also said he will continue to advocate for bicycling in the community. He also supports more density in the downtown area.
Beyond his work with the Neighborhood Court, Davis is an active member of the bicycle advocacy group Davis Bicycles! and the city’s Bicycle Advisory Commission.
Davis also served on the downtown parking task force, assembled by the City Council earlier this year to address the parking problems and congestion that have plagued the downtown for years.
In a news release announcing his campaign kickoff, Davis lists Mayor Joe Krovoza, City Councilman Brett Lee, former Mayor Ken Wagstaff and former Councilman Lamar Heystek as supporters.
Lee, who was in attendance Saturday, said he encouraged Davis to run and plans to help with his campaign over the coming months.
“I think he’ll make a great City Council person,” Lee said. “I’m really excited by the fact that he’s really a community-based candidate and he really wants to focus on the issues of Davis.”
Davis will compete for one of the two seats on the council that will come open in June. Krovoza and Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson will both finish their terms next year.
Krovoza has decided not to run for a second term on the council, as instead he will vie for a seat in the California Assembly. Swanson, however, has said she will run for the council again.
A third seat could open up if Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, who also has announced his campaign for the Assembly, wins the race for the 4th Assembly District’s seat over Krovoza and the three other candidates: Lake County Supervisor Anthony Farrington, Napa County Planning Commissioner Matt Pope and Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd.
For more information on Davis’ campaign, visit www.davis4davis.org.
— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash