Davis Board of Education Trustee Sheila Allen formally announced her run for City Council Saturday at Central Park, along with a group of supporters and friends.
“I’m a nurse so I really care about you,” Allen said, referencing her day job as a registered nurse with a Ph.D. who promotes public health policy.
Allen is the fourth candidate to make an official run at two open seats on the council. The others are incumbent and cell phone tower land use worker Rochelle Swanson, public health professional and bicycle advocate Robb Davis and solar power entrepreneur Daniel Parrella. Election day is June 3.
Allen already announced her bid on Facebook earlier this month, but chose her formal announcement place in front of the Flying Carousel of the Delta Breeze in Central Park during the bustling time of the Davis Farmer’s Market.
Amid the backdrop of the carousel, dozens of parents and children at the nearby playground and face-painting booth, Allen spoke to supporters well over the faint sound of a bagpiper who was positioned near the old restrooms, dressed in full Scottish regalia.
“I talk about my 8,400 children in the school district,” she said. “That’s really how I feel about them.”
Allen said that same caring focus would extend to the residents of Davis. She said she would look forward to serving her 65,000 “neighbors” if elected to the City Council in June.
She also called for community conversations about the fiscal health of the city and the water supply.
Talking about fiscal health, she said her more than eight years on the Davis Board of Education prepared her for dealing with tight budgets and getting revenue streams passed through ballots, a reference to the parcel taxes Davis property owners pay to support school programs.
In an interview Friday, Allen went into more detail about her plans to help the city overcome its $5.1 million deficit, if the current council doesn’t do it by the time she might take office.
First up would be having difficult conversations with city staff and the community about what the problem is and what needs to be done. Second, she would deal with union issues, including furloughs and cost-of-living adjustments. She had experience with that serving on the school board during state budgets cuts, she said, also negotiating with educational unions.
“Our current situation is the product of a long series of decisions and we can’t turn the ship overnight,” she said, adding that in regards to unions, people shouldn’t blame them for negotiating deals that enriched their members.
“It’s not their fault they negotiated a sweet deal, (but) they need to be a good partner going forward,” she said.
Allen also said that even though state law requires the city’s expected three-quarter-cent sales tax initiative to go in the general fund, the city could go beyond and provide more specific details about what that money will cover. Plus, the city should set up a watchdog committee to make sure the money is being spent where voters were told it would go.
Allen also told supporters Saturday that water use is one of her priorities. She said she wanted a community conversation about finding ways to save water. At the Friday interview, she said she supported the $288 million surface water project and the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency. Allen had praise for the current council as a whole and city staff for tackling difficult fiscal problems head on. Allen said it was not unlike when the schools went through budget crises on her tenure.
“The school district came through that difficult time and we’re in good shape now,” she said.
If Allen is elected to the City Council, the Board of Education will need to appoint someone to fill her spot, as Allen would be seated on the council a few months before school board elections.
At the park Saturday, key lawmakers turned out in number, some being the same folks who had turned up at Swanson’s official campaign announcement earlier this month at the Hunt-Boyer Mansion. County Supervisors Don Saylor and Jim Provenza, State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, former Assemblywoman Helen Thomson and City Council members Dan Wolk and Lucas Frerichs were some of the most visible in attendance Saturday. City Council candidate Robb Davis was also there.
Allen also announced her first campaign fundraiser, “A Taste of the World.” It will run from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday , Feb. 1, at Delaine Eastin’s house. Eastin is a former state superintendent of public instruction. The address is 4228 Dogwood Place.
Allen also has a Facebook page for her campaign, Sheila Allan for Davis City Council, a webpage, www.sheilaallen.org, and other ways to contact her that may be more accessible to people who are not yet wedded to 21st century technology.
“I am in the phone book … you know that paper thing?” she joked.
— Reach Dave Ryan at 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews