Bob Dunning

Bob Dunning: Goodbye, holidays. Hello, campaigns

By From page A2 | January 12, 2014

OK, we’ve carved the Christmas goose, taken down the lights and ornaments and tossed the tree in the gutter, welcomed in yet another new year and it’s now time for folks to throw their hats in the ring for a seat in the high-backed chairs of the Davis City Council.
It would be an interesting Ph.D. thesis to examine the reasons why seemingly sane people would spend countless hours and thousands of dollars and expend all sorts of emotional energy simply to gain the validation of their fellow citizens at the ballot box.
Maybe that’s it — validation. In a town where half the people have a doctorate of some sort and the other half think they should, it’s hard to distinguish yourself from the masses and let folks know just how important you truly are.
Chairman of the department at UC Davis? A dime a dozen.
Doctor, lawyer, high government official in state government? We have hundreds of those.
Best-selling author, Olympic gold medalist, Nobel Prize winner? Take a number and stand in line.
No, the only way to know you are a totally right and relevant individual in the Most Pretentious City in America is to run for office and have a whole bunch of your fellow citizens vote for you. Validation indeed.
To be sure, the actual election isn’t until June, when two seats will be up for grabs. It’s a confusing time even for veteran council watchers, given that both Mayor Joe Krovoza and Councilman Dan Wolk are running for the same 4th District seat in the California Assembly.
Krovoza’s four-year council term is expiring and he’s not seeking re-election no matter what happens in the Assembly race. So there’s seat No. 1.
The second expiring term belongs to Councilwoman Rochelle Swanson, who has indicated her willingness to soldier through another four years if the voters see fit to return her to office. So there’s seat No. 2.
But what happens to Wolk’s seat if he wins and becomes yet another Sacramento commuter? As capable as he may be, Wolk cannot serve two masters at the same time. Simply not allowed. So while his seat will not technically be at stake in June, if he ends up in the Assembly, we’ll have to deal with his absence on Tuesday evenings in the Community Chambers. So there’s seat No. 3, even if no one is running for it.
Presumably, if Wolk fails to win the Assembly seat, he’ll continue to serve on the council, despite the psychological wounds such a loss might entail.
You should note that because Davis does not have district elections, we are not running separate races for Krovoza’s seat or Swanson’s seat, which means the top two vote-getters citywide will take those seats, no matter where in town they call home.
What always intrigues me about these campaigns is how the various candidates all run around town saying “Vote for me, vote for me,” without a hint of what programs, specifically, they plan to emphasize or implement once elected.
Oh sure, they’re all against building homes on the prime ag land that surrounds this town — and never mind that their homes sit squarely on prime ag land as well — but since the advent of Measure J some years back and Son of Measure J more recently, that’s pretty much a moot issue as far as the council goes.
After all, no matter how the council may feel about development on ag land, no one can pound a single nail without the approval of the electorate at large.
What I’m concerned about are candidates who run generic, feel-good, mom and apple pie campaigns, then the second they’re in office, they vote to ban dogs of 30 pounds or more because of a shortage of puppy chow in Third World countries.
Such non-disclosure campaigns have led to bans on bags and fireplaces, lopsided deals with Zipcar, a flat-out goofy water rate structure and “road diets” that even Chris Christie never dreamed of.
Barring a run for higher office, we’re stuck with these folks for a full four years. The least they can do is tell us honestly what they plan for us once they’re sworn in and begin to peer down at the peasantry from the comfort of those high-backed chairs.

— Reach Bob [email protected]

Bob Dunning

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