Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bob Dunning: Voting patterns show town’s fault lines


From page A2 | June 12, 2014 |

If you were with me yesterday, you know I’m not particularly distressed about the incredibly low voter turnout last Tuesday in Davis and elsewhere in Yolo County. Put simply, every person who sits out creates that much more oomph for those who do vote.

One day, ideally, everyone else in town will sit it out and I’ll get to decide who gets to be mayor all by myself.

That said, I will admit it was interesting to see the color-coded maps provided by Freddie Oakley that told us how each and every precinct voted, both in Davis and in Yolo County as a whole.

Many of Dan Wolk’s supporters were clustered in one part of town as if taking shelter from a storm, and the same could be said of the precinct-by-precinct breakdown for Measure P. Who knew the town was so geographically fragmented?

And now that Oakley’s office late Wednesday issued its “Final Official Returns” we know that Measure P passed by a mere 287 votes, which may cause “No on P” folks to scratch their heads and wonder why so few people bought the ballot argument against Measure P that was signed by all five Davis City Council members.

As Dave Ryan’s piece noted on the front page of this very newspaper: “If you voted June 3, you made yourself part of a decision-making elite — at least as far as Davis is concerned.”

Which is as it should be. To the elite go the spoils.

Still, with turnout in town hovering somewhere near 39 percent for the council race and 37 percent for Measure P, it must be frustrating to those losing candidates who realize the votes were probably out there if only someone could figure out how to harvest them.

In a city with more than 37,000 registered voters and nearly 50,000 citizens eligible to vote (those over age 18), to have the leading vote-getter for City Council tally a mere 6,294 votes is breathtakingly low. Worse yet, people were allowed to vote for two candidates, not just one.

For my money, it’s not the county clerk’s job to “encourage” voter turnout. It’s the job of the Elections Office to make voting as easy and comfortable as possible, making sure there are no unreasonable roadblocks to voter participation. When you read about nightmarish lines and other voting problems around the country, it’s clear we’re doing something right in Yolo County.

Noted Ryan: “With two important local measures on the ballot and a five-person City Council race for two seats, there wasn’t a shortage of import to the June 3 election for the future of Davis.”

Or so it would seem. But maybe those of us in the news-gathering and reporting and commenting business vastly overestimate just how interested the town is in the electoral process.

Water rates? A mere nuisance for many.

Half-percent sales tax increase? Bring it on.

Swanson, Davis, Munn, Allen and Parrella? Can you run those names by me again and tell me how many I get to vote for?

According to Ryan: “Voting data from the Elections Office shows varying degrees of voter participation throughout the city, precinct by precinct. North Davis largely showed the highest levels of participation in the city, with Central and South Davis showing the least.”

When the last ballots were tallied Wednesday afternoon, Precinct 51 came in with 54 percent participation and Precinct 37 with 53 percent.

According to Tom Stanionis of the Yolo County Elections Office: “Personal philosophy is that a generation that grew up with the Internet thinks more broadly than a generation that grew up reading a local newspaper.”

Excuse me? I think we’re just been tossed in the recycle bin along with yesterday’s bottles and cans.

Not surprisingly, folks on my side of the tracks along the hardscrabble streets of East Davis voted down Measure O, partly because the sales tax is now higher than most of us can count.

When it comes to the race for the California Assembly, Joe Krovoza won the day in Davis, but was absolutely creamed by Dan Wolk in Woodland, where Krovoza failed to win a single precinct and was outpolled by Wolk by a margin of 5 to 1 in some areas.

In the other five counties that comprise the 4th Assembly District, Krovoza found out that being listed as “Mayor of Davis,” was more a liability than an asset, finishing dead last in both Solano and Colusa counties.

It’s been a long slog to the finish lane, but just think, we’ll get to do it all over again five months from now.

At least those who are interested enough to vote will get to do it all over again.

— Reach Bob Dunning at





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