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Davis, California

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Incumbents sweep City Council election

Voters decided Tuesday that the face of the Davis City Council would stay the same, at least for two more years when the rest of the council faces re-election.

All three incumbent candidates won re-election in Tuesday’s election. Don Saylor, Stephen Souza and Sue Greenwald captured the most votes in a field of six candidates to win the three seats available.

According to yoloelections.org, Saylor came in first with 21.3 percent of the vote, meaning he is now in line to become mayor. Under city council protocol, the top vote-getter becomes the mayor pro-tem for first two years of his or her term and serves as mayor for the following two years.

Souza won 20.2 percent of the vote, and Greenwald, the city’s current mayor, won with 17.8 percent. Souza was 345 votes away from being the top vote-getter.

The challengers who did not get elected should not give up, said councilmember Lamar Heystek on Davis Community Television on Tuesday night.

“I would say that it takes time to have your breakthrough moment to be able to win in an election,” he said. “I would encourage them to stay involved between election cycles.”

In the meantime, the current council will have a lot of work to do, Heystek said.

“We’ll have these very difficult discussions not only about the general plan and renewal of Measure J, but also analyzing our unmet capital needs,” he said. “I think we should recognize that those discussions will be very vigorous and there will not be unanimity in those decisions.”

This is the first City Council election since 1956 with three incumbents running for re-election. In that election, only one of the incumbents was re-elected then. The last time all three incumbents were elected to a second term was in 1944, when the incumbent candidates ran for re-election without any challengers.

Turnout for the election was 12,309 of 34,815 registered voters, or 35.4 percent. This was somewhat higher than the countywide turnout of 30.2 percent.

County clerk Freddie Oakley said the turnout in Davis was low, but the fact that it was higher than countywide was not surprising.

“Davis is often a little higher than the rest of the county, and there was a lot of energy behind this election,” she said.

According to historical data, the votes in this election were more evenly distributed among all the candidates than in any other election since the City Council was first formed in 1917. Until Tuesday, the first place winner in any election has never gotten such a low percentage of votes cast. The previous low was in 1996 when Julie Partansky won the election with 39 percent of votes cast.

Oakley said this was due to the makeup of the candidate field.

“The flattening of the line is I think in large part due to the late entry of Sydney Vergis, and I think she siphoned off some establishment votes that might have ended up with Saylor and Souza,” she said. “I’m not surprised that either Saylor or Souza did as well as they did because they’re both pretty middle-of-the-road guys.”

Vergis was encouraged to enter the race with the thought that she would erode the progressive minority, but she really just drew down the numbers, Oakley said.

The council will now meet June 10 to discuss further revisions to the budget and hear proposals regarding the Hattie Weber Museum, a reusable water bottle initiative, affordable housing, and the expansion of Davis Korean Church.

JEREMY OGUL can be reached at city@californiaaggie.com.


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