The phone rang during the dinner hour at many Davis homes on Wednesday — apparently hundreds, and perhaps as many as several thousand homes.
And many of the folks who picked up the receiver were surprised when they heard a 15-second recorded message featuring an automated voice urging a “no” vote on Measure A, the Davis school district’s emergency parcel tax.
Local voters are in the midst of casting their ballots for or against Measure A in a special mail-only election. Ballots are due May 3.
Wednesday’s flurry of “robocalls” quickly became a topic of conversation around town. The calls were organized by Thomas Randall Jr., a longtime East Davis resident who is the coordinator of Davis Taxpayers Against Measure A, a recently formed political committee that filed paperwork with the California secretary of state’s office in late March.
Randall observed that the committee supporting a “yes” vote on Measure A — Yes for Our Students, www.yesforourstudents.org — has been working the phones as well. Indeed, teachers, parents, high school students and even Superintendent Winfred Roberson have been calling local voters to urge support of Measure A.
“If they can do it so can we and that is completely fair,” Randall said in an email message Friday night. “There is nothing secretive about this strategy.”
He declined to estimate of how many automated calls were made Wednesday, saying this is “a matter of political strategy of internal concern to the committee, just as the number of phone calls the yes side is doing is of concern to their committee.”
Financial reports for both campaign committees are due to be filed by Thursday with the Yolo County Elections Office.
Randall has been Measure A’s most vocal opponent. He penned an opinion page piece opposing Measure A that was published April 3 in The Davis Enterprise. In addition, Randall wrote the “no on Measure A” ballot argument included in the packet sent out with mail-in ballots by the Yolo County Elections Office on April 4.
Randall also has written a lengthy analysis of the measure that he posted at the Davis Taxpayers Against Measure A website: http://www.yvm.net/vme/no-on-a.
Voters can watch Randall’s recorded five-minute statement on Measure A on the Davis Media Access website, http://davismedia.org, along with a statement in favor of the tax by Delaine Eastin, a Davis resident and former state superintendent of public instruction. Both statements have been airing on local cable television and on KDRT, 95.7 FM.
Randall is a 38-year resident of Davis, and a 1985 graduate of Davis High School. He has been active in local Republican Party politics for some time, serving on the Yolo County Republican Central Committee from 1989 to 1993, and from 1997 to 2010. He lost re-election last year.
Randall has opposed at least two other recent local tax measures. In November 2008, he wrote a ballot argument opposing Measure W — a three-year parcel tax put before voters by the Davis school district, charging $120 per single-family home per year. Measure W ultimately was supported by 75.7 percent of voters in that election. It will expire in June 2012, and Measure W will overlap with Measure A — if it is approved — for one year).
And in June 2010, Randall was one of three people who signed a ballot argument against a renewal of a half-cent city sales tax. That measure — known as Measure Q — was approved by 74.5 percent of voters.
(The city’s 2010 Measure Q should not be confused with the Davis school district’s November 2007 parcel tax, which was approved by 73.2 percent of voters. The school district’s Measure Q, which charges single-family homes $200 per year, also will expire in June 2012, and also will overlap with Measure A, if approved, for one year.)
If approved, Measure A would authorize a two-year parcel tax that would charge $200 per year per single-family home. Multi-unit dwellings would be charged $20 per year. The parcel tax would support existing academic programs in the Davis school district, which, like other California school districts, has experienced substantial reductions in funding from the state during the past three years.
Ballots in the Measure A election must be returned by May 3. Ballots may be mailed back to the Yolo County Elections Department in the postage-paid envelope that came with the ballot. Ballots also may be deposited in a specially marked drop box at the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St. in Davis, and at the Elections Office, 625 Court St. in Woodland.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at email@example.com or (530) 747-8055.