Walking through the hallways of the White House and Capitol Building, wheeling and dealing with federal agency leaders, lobbying for endorsements for various projects and policies: These are the images that surface when picturing the daily grind in Washington, D.C.
For an entire week earlier this month, a team of local political and business leaders entered that fray.
From April 10 to 17, that Davis/Yolo County “legislative advocacy” group marched throughout the nation’s capital — while there for the annual Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce Cap-to-Cap program — to sit down, face to face, with congressional representatives and other federal officials to inform about and garner support for local economic development initiatives.
The Davis/Yolo County team included City Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson; Davis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kemble Pope; David Morris, representing techDAVIS and Capitol Corridor Ventures; Karen Bond of Cedaron; Marj Dickinson, UC Davis assistant vice chancellor; Tim Gaffney, a Davis resident and representative of DSIDE (Designing a Sustainable and Innovative Davis Economy); Kari Fry, managing director of the Centaur Group; Laura McCollough, UC Davis graduate; Catherine Hawe, UC Davis graduate; Rob White, Davis’ chief innovation officer; Councilman Lucas Frerichs; Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor; and Mayor Joe Krovoza.
So eager to start their work, the local team even flew out two days before the remainder of the Cap-to-Cap delegation to get a head start on their meetings.
Over those first two days, the group met with representatives of the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; the State Department’s National Export Initiative; Nossaman LLP for a chat about legislative affairs; Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove; the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs & Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology; and the legislative director of Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin.
White said the group pushed for the following initiatives during their meetings: promoting an innovation ecosystem and technology-based economy, facilitating increased partnership between UCD and the federal national labs, and manufacturing innovation.
Pope was especially pleased about their meeting with Garamendi.
“What we’re doing right now is exactly right,” Pope said of Garamendi’s message to the group. “The policy things we’re doing, (we need to) stay with it.”
Garamendi also told the team that they may be able to tap into the estimated $50 billion that the feds have allocated to infrastructure improvements for the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency surface water project.
Once the rest of the 300 or so delegates that made up the broader Cap-to-Cap event arrived, the Davis/Yolo team was broken down into smaller groups to attend meetings with various offices to promote the region’s interests in innovation, flood protection, jobs and business growth, and agriculture and food.
But that didn’t stop the local group from continuing its work, as in between Cap-to-Cap assignments they found time to meet with the representatives of the Sustainable Communities Office of Housing and Urban Development and Doug Rand, the senior adviser to the deputy director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Upon returning to Davis, the team appeared thrilled about their efforts.
“It greatly exceeded our expectations,” said Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson, who co-chaired Cap-to-Cap. “The request to keep in touch … was really encouraging.”
The group has spent hours since the trip poring over notes and the action items they identified during their discussions to follow up with the various representatives.
“Though it will take a few weeks, and maybe months, to follow up on the long list of action items, each and every team member has come back to Davis and Yolo County with a strong sense of purpose and reaffirmation that we are working on issues that are in sync with our federal partners,” White wrote in a follow-up memo about the trip.
The local initiative, in conjunction with this year’s Cap-to-Cap trip, serves as a drastic turnaround from previous participation in the annual event.
The Sacto Metro Chamber has coordinated Cap-to-Cap for the six-county region for the past 43 years, but this year marked the first time Davis has sent more than one representative.
A full account of the local group’s efforts can be found on the city’s website under the City Council Meeting Agendas page, titled Cap to Cap Overview. The council also will receive a presentation on the trip at its meeting Tuesday.
— Reach Tom Sakash at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash