Julie Partansky, former mayor of Davis, died Jan. 9 after a brief battle with lung cancer. Partansky was 61 years old.
Partansky was famous around Davis for heading up projects such as the toad tunnel and the dark sky ordinance, projects that ultimately allowed Davis residents to enjoy the beauty of the nature around them, said city councilmember Sue Greenwald, a friend and political ally of Partansky.
“In general, environmental sustainability and protection of wildlife were big things for her,” Greenwald said. “She fought for the preservation of the character of Davis.“
Partansky was always against rapid growth in Davis. She felt that slow growth would make the Davis community more cohesive, Greenwald added.
“Julie was truly ahead of her time, she brought national attention to Davis with her progressive environmental and city planning initiatives,” she said. “She presented all of her ideas with a creative flourish.“
Julie was remembered not only for her involvement in Davis city projects, but also for her activities outside of the political sphere.
“I met Julie when she was a student teacher at West Davis Elementary School,” said mayor pro tem Don Saylor in an e-mail. “She focused on art and performance with my son’s third grade class.“
Julie’s ability to connect with her students was inspiring to those around her, he said.
“[Julie] engaged the inner spirit of her students. Julie was engaged with life and fascinated by all around her,” Saylor said. “Julie was genuine, earnest and kind in her intentions and actions as a person and as an elected official.“
Partansky’s friends who were not affiliated with Davis politics understood the great impact that she had on the community as a whole.
“We were friends since 1973,” said former mayor Bill Kopper, who became friends with Partansky before her political career began.
Her advocacy for slow growth and desire to keep Davis a close knit community was apparent, he said.
“She did a lot of things that had a great impact [on Davis],” he said. “One thing that I think is very important is that, at the time she was elected, there was a momentum toward really expanding the city of Davis. Julie opposed the rapid growth of Davis, and I think she had a large impact on keeping Davis the way it is … with a thriving downtown area.“
Partansky was also extremely concerned with environmental issues, and the natural preservation of Davis, he added.
“She also focused the community’s attention on environmental issues and directed people’s attention to the environment around them,” Kopper said. “She wanted people to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and the beauty of the animals that occupy the community, including the toads.“
Partansky was also an avid musician, but took time away from her craft to serve as the mayor of Davis.
“Those who knew Julie only as an artist and musician were surprised that she could put down her paintbrush, set aside her marimba sticks and deftly handle the Mayor’s gavel,” said former mayor Ken Wagstaff in a written statement.
Partansky’s strong opposition to rapid growth allowed Davis residents to appreciate everything around them, he said.
“When [Julie] was mayor, she worked hard on growth control, always reminding us that humans do not have a divine right to pave over the land,” Wagstaff said. “Julie energetically achieved the precedent-setting Davis outdoor lighting ordinance, which reduces glare and preserves our view of the night sky. To be able to gaze across a Davis parking lot or other open area at night and see starry sky is her tangible gift to us.“
A public memorial celebration for Partansky is being planned for later this spring.
CAITLIN COBB can be reached at email@example.com.