Friday, October 24, 2014

Relative few may decide local races


Campaign signs for various local races line the corner of Pole Line Road and Covell Boulevard in East Davis. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

From page A1 | June 01, 2014 |

Vote Tuesday

When: Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Info: Yolo County Elections Office, or 530-666-8133

On Tuesday, Davis voters will put two into City Council seats, decide a pair of local measures — one on controversial water rates — and have a hand in who’ll advance in a contentious Assembly race.

Each vote will count plenty with turnout projected to be, in a word, dismal.

“We went into this thinking we’d get 42 percent (turnout), close to normal for a gubernatorial primary, but I think we’re going to be lucky see 30 percent at this point,” said Yolo County Clerk-Recorder/Registrar of Voters Freddie Oakley.

As of Friday, 12,564 of 55,400 vote-by-mail ballots had been returned — a figure Oakley deemed “not encouraging.”

“I think it’s a combination of things,” she said. “There’s no real competition for governor, and I think the amount of scurrilous mail depresses turnout.”

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Those who aren’t sure where to vote can check at or call 530-666-8133 during office hours on Monday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or on Election Day.

Voters also can cast a ballot Monday during office hours or on Tuesday at the elections office, located on the bottom level of the County Administration Building at 625 Court St., in Woodland.

Turnout won’t be helped by the governor’s race, in which Democratic incumbent Jerry Brown is a heavy favorite to win an unprecedented fourth term in November. He’ll most likely face one of two Republicans — tea party favorite Tim Donnelly, an assemblyman from Twin Peaks, and the more moderate Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and banker.

Californians will decide a pair of ballot measures on Tuesday:

* Prop. 41 is a $600 million affordable housing program for veterans. It would enable the state to give low-interest loans to local governments, nonprofit organizations and developers to provide housing for veterans and support transitional housing for homeless vets.

* Prop. 42 is a proposed constitutional amendment that would require that local governments, not the state, pay the cost of following state laws giving public access to local government information.

The most-watched races, though, will be down-ballot. Here’s a look:

Measure P: If passed, it will repeal the city’s water rates to those in effect prior to May 1, 2013.

Those prior rates followed a more traditional structure. However, city staff say they will not bring in enough revenue to pay for the Davis-Woodland surface water project, and that if Measure P is successful the city will have to redo the rates to avoid financial penalties.

Measure O: If passed, it will increase the city’s overall sales tax by half a percent and extend an existing half-percent sales tax until 2020, when both taxes would expire.

The city estimates it will receive $3.6 million in additional money to use in the general fund in a way it sees fit. The city is cutting $1.16 million out of the budget this year and faces a $4.99 million structural deficit.

City Council: Five candidates are competing for two seats.

Incumbent Rochelle Swanson faces candidates with school board experience — Sheila Allen and John Munn — plus political newcomers who know the city well — Robb Davis and Daniel Parrella.

Swanson, vying for her second term, is a regional accounts manager for CTI Towers Inc., with a degree from McGeorge School of Law. She’s built her campaign around her experience dealing with the city’s fiscal challenges. Now is not the time for on-the-job council training, she says.

Allen founded and directs the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, while anti-tax advocate Munn is a recently retired Department of Forestry and Fire Protection soil scientist.

Allen says she wants to focus on a more holistic budget, which emphasizes new revenue, like an innovation park, and creating housing choices for people across age groups.

Munn’s campaign puts fiscal sustainability front and center, saying city staff is top-heavy and lacks a needed finance director. He’s a party to a lawsuit opposing the city’s water rates.

Public health professional Robb Davis is a member of the city of Davis Bicycle Advisory Commission, Downtown Parking Task Force and longtime community activist. Davis native Parrella is the owner of Spearhead Solar.

Robb Davis says the council needs to narrow its focus and control costs. The city needs a staffing analysis and a close examination of its full maintenance needs, he says.

Parrella advocates a participatory budgeting process and a renewed focus on infrastructure needs, like roads and street lights.

Assembly: Two of Swanson’s council colleagues, Mayor Joe Krovoza and Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, hope to replace termed-out District 4 Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis.

Krovoza and Wolk are facing a third Democrat, longtime Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, a former Republican, and two current members of the GOP: Esparto farmer and retired Marine officer Charlie Schaupp and legislative aide and UC Davis student Dustin Call.

The race has been flooded with more than $1 million in independent expenditure money, almost all of it for or against pro-business moderate Dodd and pro-union progressive Wolk, who was endorsed by the state party. Krovoza has bagged endorsements from several newspapers and environmental backers.

Schaupp, a conservative, has focused on ethical lapses in Sacramento. Call, a moderate, has not actively campaigned.

At the county level, a number of incumbents, including District 2 Supervisor Don Saylor of Davis, are running uncontested. Exceptions:

Superior Court: Four are competing to replace retiring Judge Stephen Mock. 

Yolo Superior County Commissioner Janene Beronio has the heavy backing of the local legal establishment, including all sitting and retired judges and the county Bar Association. She has held her appointed position since 1989. In it, she handles arraignment, pretrial, juvenile, civic and traffic calendars.

Criminal defense attorney John Brennan of West Sacramento also has a background as a prosecutor. He says he’d bring needed criminal law experience to the bench.

Frederick “Rick” Cohen, a 1989 UCD School of Law grad, has emphasized the need for a judge with a family law background. He practices it in Sacramento, where he lives.

Davis resident and West Sacramento native Larenda Delaini serves as deputy attorney general. She has had stints as a prosecutor in Contra Costa and Sacramento counties and has touted her local roots.

County superintendent of schools: A pair of Woodland residents are competing for the office opened up by the retirement of Jorge Ayala, who had held the job since 1998.

Jesse Ortiz is a Yolo County Board of Education member, former Woodland school board member and Woodland Community College professor and counselor. His platform includes pushing for preschool for all and partnerships with higher education. He has Ayala’s backing and that of the county chapter of the California Teachers Association.

Sam Neustadt is a longtime assistant superintendent of the Solano County Special Education Local Plan Area and a former principal and teacher. He’s emphasized his seven years in the classroom as well as county-level experience he says is needed to cope with the state’s changing educational system.

Clerk/recorder/assessor: Three-term incumbent Oakley is facing Yolo County senior appraiser David Schwenger.

The clerk/recorder’s position soon will include the county assessor’s office as well. Oakley, a Davis resident, has stressed her experience in two of those three offices.

Schwenger, a UCD graduate and Esparto farmer, joined the assessor’s office in 2007. A former residential real estate appraiser, he’s said he’s better prepared to put together a tax roll within six months of the election.

— Reach Cory Golden at or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden



Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter.
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