Incumbent Dan Wolk and newcomers Lucas Frerichs and Brett Lee won election to the Davis City Council on Tuesday night, denying long-serving members Sue Greenwald and Stephen Souza their bids for another four-year term on the dais.
Wolk, 34, who picked up 8,708 votes (29.1 percent), buried all of his opponents early, claiming every precinct in Davis and eventually earning mayor pro tem honors by about 3,000 votes.
After a close race for the second seat with Lee, Frerichs eventually distanced himself from the pack as well, collecting 5,827 votes, or 19.5 percent. Frerichs took second in the majority of the precincts on the west side of the city.
Lee finished third in the voting, locking down the last of the three seats up for grabs in the election, with 5,368 tallies, or 17.9 percent of the vote.
The total put Lee just 230 votes ahead of Greenwald (5,138 and 17.2 percent of votes), who will miss out on her fourth consecutive term on the City Council, and about 500 ahead of Souza (4,880 and 16.3 percent of votes), who will miss out on his third.
But while Frerichs and Lee eventually were victorious, earlier in the evening it appeared that all candidates were still alive in the race.
The Yolo County Elections Office released the absentee ballot results about 8 p.m. revealing that only 300 votes separated Frerichs, Lee, Souza and Greenwald. Wolk, however, already had built a commanding 2,000-vote lead.
But when the next round of precincts flashed up on the Yolo Elections Office website around 11 p.m. Frerichs and Lee had begun to break away from the two incumbents.
By 1 a.m., 100 percent of the precincts had been accounted for and the results showed Wolk, Frerichs and Lee as the winners.
Greenwald, 64, who has served on the City Council since 2000 — with one stint as mayor in 2006-08 — made a push toward the end of the night.
But she said she knew right off the bat she was in trouble after the absentee ballot results were posted. Greenwald felt she needed to build a bigger lead before the precincts were revealed.
Many had expected a low turnout at the polls across the state, especially because the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, already has the nomination locked up. In Davis, about 38 percent of registered voters showed up to the polls, a 6 percent increase from last year’s total.
No candidate received more of the 12,645 votes that were cast than Wolk.
Wolk, deputy counsel for Solano County, was appointed by the City Council in February 2011 after Don Saylor left for the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. The incumbent said Tuesday that, though he appreciated the appointment he received last year, winning this election might be even more special.
“It’s one thing to be appointed, but it’s another thing to actually (win) an election,” Wolk said at his victory party, hosted by friends Jay and Vanessa Errecarte. “That affirmation by the voters, that ‘Hey, we like what you’re doing,’ I’m really humbled by it.”
Frerichs, 32, who chairs the Davis Planning Commission, pointed to his background and experience serving on various boards and committees in Davis as the reasons why his campaign was successful.
“(Davis voters) really know that I’m somebody who walks the talk and can be counted on to do what I say I’m going to do,” Frerichs said while celebrating the victory at the home of his friends and supporters, Jay and Carri Ziegler. “So people really were able to just count on that when they were voting.”
Frerichs works as a policy consultant at Legislature, focusing on natural resources issues. He shares a home near downtown with his wife Stacie, who is an elected member of the Davis Food Co-op board of directors, a board her husband once chaired.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Lee, who some believed didn’t have the name recognition to compete with the incumbents he was running against.
However, Lee said focusing on the issues during the campaign gave him an edge when the voters hit the polls Tuesday.
“I think I focused on the issues that the general population was interested in,” he said late Tuesday night, biking home from former Mayor Ken Wagstaff’s house, where his election party took place. “Being able to vote on the water project and this idea that the budget is the most important thing we need to deal with (made a difference).”
Lee works for FedEx as an industrial engineer and also has a degree in financial planning.
While Frerichs and Lee embark on their careers in elected office, so end the long-standing services of Souza and Greenwald, at least temporarily.
As the bad news rolled in during Souza’s Election Night party at Tres Hermanas downtown, so did the good memories of his time sitting on the dais for the past eight years.
“It has been a privilege, an honor,” an emotional Souza said among his friends Tuesday. “I’ve cherished every moment of it, loved every bit of it, tried as hard as I could to do all that I could. Every vote, every action, was to make the town better. (Davis is) my home; I’ve never lived any place longer.”
Souza, 57, who was first elected in 2004, owns and operates Ultra Clean Pool Services in Davis. He began his career as an anti-nuclear arms activist and served on many Davis city commissions before running for City Council. He does not yet know whether he’ll seek office again.
Greenwald said it was a joy to work on her campaign with people she’s known in the community for years.
“It was great being able to work with my friends,” she said at her election party at her friend Norma Turner’s house. “It was astonishingly easy to get 50 volunteers to help walk precincts. It was a joint effort and a big commitment.”
As for her desire to seek re-election in the future, Greenwald said she has no plans, but she is considering writing about her time on the council.
“I could write a book,” she said. “Or a screenplay.”
— Reach Tom Sakash at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash