It was a long, late night for supporters of Measure E, the Davis school parcel tax on Tuesday’s ballot.
But when all was said and done, Measure E got a 68.9 percent yes vote in the final vote tally by the Yolo County Elections Office, posted at 3:53 a.m. It needed two-thirds approval to pass.
When the first batch of returns (drawn from vote-by-mail ballots) was posted shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Measure E was ahead, with 65.1 percent of voters voting yes. In an ordinary election, that would be a landslide win. But school parcel tax measures require a supermajority, so 65.1 percent was just short of the threshold for a win.
But as school board trustee Gina Daleiden observed at the Measure E victory party, held at Dos Coyotes restaurant in South Davis, “the percentage of the yes vote on a school parcel tax measure always goes up a few points” over the course of the evening, after the first batch of votes is announced right after the polls close.
That proved to be the case Tuesday as well. By 11:16 p.m., as more votes were being tallied, the majority for Measure E was up to 66.2 percent in favor. At 2:41 a.m., when 76 percent of ballots had been counted, it had crossed the two-thirds threshold and was up to 68.3 percent. And when the final vote tally was posted early this morning, Measure E had won with 68.9 percent. It collected 16,457 yes votes to 7,431 no votes.
“We are extraordinarily grateful to the voters for supporting our students,” said Davis Board of Education President Susan Lovenburg, a victor herself on Tuesday. “It’s a better day, today. I am hopeful we have now begun to reverse the trend of disinvestment in public education in California.”
Measure E’s margin of victory was slightly larger than the local school parcel tax it replaces — 2011′s Measure A, which received a very slender 67.2 percent majority in a mail-only election in May 2011.
Retiring school board trustee Richard Harris, who managed the campaign in favor of Measure E, said he’s appreciative that Davis voters had come through again in support of this latest school parcel tax. Davis voters have repeatedly supported additional taxes for schools since 1984.
“We didn’t squeeze by,” Harris said this morning. “Sixty-nine percent approval for anything is a landslide. The people of Davis have spoken and they are proud of their schools and value excellence in education, whether or not they have school-age children.”
Measure E had faced dogged opposition, with school board candidate Jose Granda criticizing the tax at every candidates forum and related campaign events. Veteran parcel tax opponent Thomas Randall Jr. also filed a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commission against the Davis school board and the campaign supporting Measure E, which the FPPC quickly rejected, citing a lack of evidence.
Randall also filed a federal lawsuit against the measure, objecting to the different rates charged to homeowners and renters and arguing that the ballot language doesn’t conform with the Federal Plain Writing Act of 2010. Randall indicated before the election that he intends to pursue the lawsuit against Measure E regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election.
The amount that Measure E would charge homeowners was dependent on the fate of statewide Proposition 30, which California voters approved by a 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent margin.
Measure E will charge Davis area homeowners $204 per year for four years and apartment dwellers $20 per year. Funds generated by the tax are earmarked to support a variety of local classroom programs.
However, Measure E was not designed to restore funding for the 50-some teaching positions that were cut by the Davis school district over the summer, resulting in significantly larger class sizes in local schools. Rather, Measure E basically will provide status quo funding of about $3.2 million annually. It will replace Measure A when that earlier tax expires in June.
The wins for Prop. 30 and Measure E means there won’t be any more immediate cuts in school district funding and academic programs, but they don’t represent a restoration of the $10 million in state funds that have been cut over the past five years.
“I’m grateful to California and Davis voters for demonstrating their support for public education,” Superintendent Winfred Roberson said early this morning. “We return our energy to our primary focus, student achievement and student learning.”
— Reach Jeff Hudson at email@example.com or 530-747-8055.