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Davis, California

Friday, March 1, 2024

Who’s who in Davis

Editor’s note: Here are some of the people who keep the wheels turning at UC Davis and around town.


The Campus

Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef

Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef joined the UC Davis community in 1984 as executive vice chancellor and provost. The native mid-westerner took office as UC Davis’s fifth chancellor in 1994 and is one of the nation’s-longest serving university leaders.

“I’ve sometimes described my campus role as representing UC Davis to the outside world, and putting in place the campus’s leadership team and helping ensure their success,” Vanderhoef said.

After nearly a quarter-century at UC Davis, Vanderhoef announced his intent to step down as chancellor at the end of this centennial year. After a year-long sabbatical, he will return to campus as a professor of plant biology and chancellor emeritus. Vanderhoef says he is looking forward to the centennial.

“The coming centennial year, in spite of our budgetary dilemma in Sacramento, will be fun, pure and simple,” he said. “We’ll be recalling all of those events and people that add up to the great university that we are today. And we’ll look at the challenges of the next 100 years, many of which we’re already working on.”


ASUCD President, Ivan Carrillo

Fifth-year senior sociology major Ivan Carrillo of Sacramento became an ASUCD senator in Feb. 2007 after attending UC Davis as a transfer student for just five months.

“I was trying to navigate campus and thinking about what I wanted to get involved in,” Carrillo said. “A friend who was a senator told me all about it and encouraged me to get involved.”

Carrillo’s involvement expanded last year when he made a successful bid for ASUCD president in the Winter 2008 elections as a member of the L.E.A.D. slate.

“The role of ASUCD president is to make students’ time here as enjoyable as possible, one where they can be as successful as possible and to ensure they’re getting support from the administration, from the city and from the student leaders,” he said.

Before his term ends in March, Carrillo has a full agenda of projects and goals to work on including developing a student resource manual, increasing the number of one and two-unit seminars offered, and looking into bringing a Zipcar rental service to campus that would allow students to easily rent cars by the hour.

“Our time [in ASUCD] in this position is short, but I’m confident that we can get everything done,” he said.

ASUCD Vice President, Molly Fluet

Molly Fluet became interested in ASUCD when she was asked to help a sorority sister with her campaign for senate.

“It sort of snowballed from there,” Fluet said.

The fourth year history major from Pasadena was elected vice president on the L.E.A.D. slate in the Winter 2008 election. As vice president, she presides over weekly senate meetings, deals with the administration of day-to-day ASUCD activities, checks that senators attend their weekly commission meetings and serves as a liaison to the administration with President Carrillo.

“The office of VP is really there to serve as a utility for students,” she said. “I hope that when people have a question they feel free to email me.”

During her remaining time in office, Fluet plans to focus on improving ASUCD’s relationship with the Academic Senate as well as creating seminars to help sophomores, juniors and seniors develop a closer connection with their professors.


ASUCD Controller, Paul Harms

As ASUCD’s money man, fourth year managerial economics major Paul Harms is responsible for overseeing the association’s $10.7 million annual budget. The controller is tasked with developing and implementing the budget for all ASUCD units including Unitrans, the Coffee House, Classical Notes and Tipsy Taxi. The paid appointed position also serves as the chief financial advisor to the ASUCD president and senate.

“There’s a lot the controller has to take into account both on the political side in the senate and the business side in making sure the budget is accurate and serves the most students as possible with the little funds we have,” Harms said.

Like most of his predecessors, Harms worked his way into the position by interning for the previous two controllers. The Fremont native is now looking for his own proteges this fall in preparation for his departure from the position at the end of winter quarter when he graduates.

“As outgoing controller, part of the job is to choose a possible successor so that whoever takes the job won’t have to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

City of Davis

Davis Mayor Ruth Asmundson

Ruth Yu Asmundson came to Davis from the Philippines in the late 1960’s as a Fulbright scholar to get her Ph.D. in chemistry from UC Davis. She has served on the city council since 2002, with her second term as mayor beginning over this past summer.

The mother of six was married to former Davis mayor Vigfus Asmundson who passed away in 2003. She credits her husband’s passion for local politics for sparking her interest in Davis issues. Before running for city council in 2002, she was involved in various education policy programs including the Yolo County School Boards Association and the California STAR testing program.

A political moderate, Asmundson leans slightly toward the pro-growth side on the issue of city expansion – a contentious debate in Davis politics. She has said a community must grow to remain healthy.

One of Asmundson’s pet projects is developing and nurturing relationships with Davis’ sister cities, especially the two from her native Philippines that she helped bring into the fold.

Asmundson previously served as mayor between 2002 to 2004. Her current term ends in 2010.


State Assembly Member Lois Wolk

Lois Wolk, a longtime Davis resident and politician, is a Democratic candidate for the California State Senate and currently serves as a representative for Davis in the California State Assembly. She also represents several other communities in Yolo and Solano counties that make up the Eighth Assembly District.

Wolk is the chair of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee in the Assembly, and she has authored a number of laws on environmental issues, winning her the Planning and Conservation League’s 2007 Legislator of the Year award.

She has authored over 50 new laws in the five years she has been in office, according to her Assembly website.

Though she was elected to the Assembly in 2002, Wolk has a long history of public service in Davis.

She was elected to the Davis City Council in 1990 and served as mayor for four out of her eight years as a councilmember. In 1998 she was elected to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, where she served until 2002.


U.S. Representative Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson is the U.S. Representative for the First District of California, which includes Davis. He was first elected in 1998.

Thompson is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of moderate and conservative Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. He serves as the chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Human Intelligence, Analysis and Counterintelligence. He is also a member of the Ways and Means committee and the Committee on Intelligence.

Thompson is a Vietnam veteran. He received a Purple Heart for his service as a staff sergeant and platoon leader during combat, according to his congressional website. He later became the first Vietnam veteran to win election to the California State Senate, where he served from 1990 to 1998.

Thompson faces re-election in November.


Davis Police Chief Landy Black

As the head of one of the Davis Police Department, one of the city’s most important departments, Landy Black oversees 60 sworn police officers and another 45 professional staff members. He is also in charge of a budget of $13.5 million.

He was hired in 2007 after a series of racially-charged controversies led to the resignation of the previous chief in June 2006. Prior to coming to Davis, Black was a precinct captain in Seattle, Wash., where he worked in a culturally diverse neighborhood – something that strongly appealed to community members when he was hired.

“It has been mentioned that there is a need for respect for all citizens, and that is something that I am committed to,” Black said in a Davis Enterprise article after he was hired.

The Davis Police Department is responsible for law enforcement inside city limits. This does not include anything on campus, which is under the jurisdiction of the UC Davis Police Department, a separate law enforcement entity.


Davis Blogger David Greenwald

If there’s scandal, injustice, or anything else “the man” might not want you to know about, you can bet David Greenwald has written about it.

Greenwald is Davis’ most influential blogger. His website, formally known as The People’s Vanguard of Davis, is a place dedicated to exposing “the dark underbelly” of town politics and government.

The site has gained popularity from its in-depth reports on alleged past misconduct in the Davis Police Department, alleged financial mismanagement in the Davis Joint Unified School District and the high salaries of some city workers.

Greenwald says he sees himself as a watchdog who reports on issues that are not being covered in the newspapers.

And people listen. The site gets anywhere from 6,000 to 20,000 hits per week, Greenwald said.

“I think if you go down the list of people who are leaders in the city of Davis and the community as a whole, a lot of them read the site to keep informed about what is going on,” he said.

Some leaders also use the site to communicate with the public. Davis city councilmember Sue Greenwald (no relation to David) frequently posts her thoughts and clarifies her positions in the comments section of the site.

ALYSOUN BONDE and JEREMY OGUL can be reached at campus@californiaaggie.com.



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