If Joe Krovoza holds a special place in Davis history so far, it might be because of time.
At the very least, Krovoza is the second longest-serving mayor of Davis, at 3 1/2 years. Only Norman Woodbury, mayor from 1960-1964, served longer.
When City Councilman Don Saylor became a county supervisor in 2011, Mayor Pro Tem Krovoza was appointed mayor in early January, kicking off a term that saw the hiring of a new city manager, belt-tightening at City Hall, a surface water project vote, new water rates, unification of UC Davis and city fire department administrations and a blizzard of other issues.
This is Davis, after all.
As such, it’s hard to define Krovoza’s mayoral career, especially because a Davis mayor is just one vote of five.
But former mayor Sue Greenwald, who was one of the city council members who voted to appoint Krovoza as mayor in 2011, posted high hopes in promoting Krovoza.
“We need stability and we need to focus on solving our problems,” she was quoted as saying at the time. “I think that Joe will be extraordinarily fair and he will bring a congeniality on this council that we haven’t seen in years.”
As part of the council, Krovoza presided over many more unanimous votes, it seemed, than there were split ones. In an interview, he prided himself on being a part of successful motions on the council.
“I was not always on the winning side of every vote,” he said. “(But) I was on the winning side of the vast majority of votes.”
Krovoza also talked of the frustration he had with city finances and the council’s need to get a handle on the situation, ultimately leading to a decision to place a half-percent sales tax increase before voters and discuss a parcel tax later on, with the hope that a new innovation park would bring in much-needed sales and property tax revenue for the city in the future.
“Adding to the challenge, we were doing this in the great recession and the state of California took our redevelopment money,” he said. “… If you asked me what my biggest accomplishment might be, it would be getting fiscal sustainability.”
Although he did plenty of budget cuts with other members of the council, cuts were not the thing that Krovoza relished.
Instead, as one of the founders of Davis Bicycles! and a former co-chairman of the Putah Creek Council, Krovoza talks most excitedly about his environmental record and what he was able to accomplish for bicycling in Davis.
He championed the city’s Beyond Platinum Bicycle Action Plan, an ambitious set of goals to increase the number of residents riding bicycles and make the city’s bike lane network one of, if not the, strongest in the nation. He boosted efforts to regulate wood smoke in Davis, and actively supported Cool Davis and the goal of a carbon-neutral city by 2050.
There were also $7.5 million in grants for bikeway improvements during the time he was mayor, with additional gas tax funds going towards things like the Sycamore Lane cycle track completed recently at Villanova Drive.
Krovoza also was a strong proponent to place agricultural land surrounding the Mace Curve in a conservation easement, sealing the land for agricultural use for generations to come.
The former mayor lists the surface water project as part of environmental and fiscal sustainability measures that will help Davis.
Other community leaders praise him for his cooperation and leadership on major issues.
“When we turn on our taps and enjoy the benefits of a new, high quality surface water supply, we will have many leaders to thank,” UCD Assistant Vice Chancellor Sid England said. “Joe Krovoza belongs in the top echelon on that list, and we all owe him tremendously for his insight, forethought and leadership.”
Davis Chamber of Commerce CEO Kemble Pope said Krovoza was central to adding focus to the community’s economic conversation.
“Joe’s leadership in economic development was crucial to reframing the community conversation on that topic,” he wrote in an email. “His advocacy for Davis Roots, Mori Seiki and many other efforts helped convince many citizens that a pro-active economic development strategy could and should be aligned with our community values and that the entire community benefits from more jobs in Davis.”
Former City Manger Steve Pinkerton, who left to take the helm of a General Improvement District for the community of Incline Village, Nev., this year, said Krovoza was a major reason he accepted the demanding Davis job.
“I could tell immediately that he was a quick study and understood the hard choices ahead in order to help the city government restore fiscal sanity and preserve everything that makes Davis a great place to live and work,” he wrote in a message. “His passion, determination and love for his community was infectious in all those around him. I really appreciate the fact that he never wavered when it came to hard choices — particularly with regards to labor and budget issues — and we could not have achieved our fiscal goals without his leadership. Davis is a better place thanks to his service to the community.”
But it’s current Mayor Dan Wolk, Krovoza’s adversary in the recent state Assembly race, who has the probably the most lasting recollections in line with Krovoza’s self-assessment.
“At least in recent memory he’s been the mayor who has been so dedicated to making bicycles a key part of his policy,” he said.
Both men are avid cyclists and Wolk said Krovoza does something many cyclists — and certainly former mayors — can’t do.
“One of my lasting images of him won’t be sitting next to him on city council, but of him riding a unicycle, leading a parade,” he said.
The future for Krovoza? He’s professed he will stay active in the community in some way and said he is “delighted” to focus in on his job as director of external relations and development at the UCD Institute of Transportation Studies and Energy Efficiency Center.
Yet he seemed to somewhat confirm rumors around town that the Krovoza name could pop up on a ballot in the future.
“Maybe they’ll be opportunities down the road for public service,” he said.
— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or call 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews