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Davis, California

Friday, February 23, 2024

Five candidates vie for two vacancies in City Council race

A lot can change in a few months, and this is definitely the case for the June 8 Davis City Council election.

During the upcoming election, Davis residents will choose from among a group of five candidates who include parents, students, environmentalists, longtime Davis residents and UC Davis grads. The names Joe Krovoza, Daniel Watts, Jon Li, Sydney Vergis and Rochelle Swanson will appear on the ballot.

Mayor Ruth Asmundson recently announced she would not seek re-election, while, Councilmember Lamar Heystek announced in the fall he would not run again this spring. Even after a petition circulated urging him to reconsider his decision, he stood by his original choice. With Mayor Pro-Tempore Don Saylor running for County Supervisor and Councilmembers Sue Greenwald and Steve Souza not up for re-election yet, two seats will be open.

Candidate Joe Krovoza, who is currently directing development and outreach activities for the UC Davis Energy Efficiency Center, was surprised when the incumbents decided not to run and believes much has changed since he announced his candidacy in October 2009.

“Since I decided to run, I have been able to learn the breadth of knowledge of issues you have to have on City Council by talking to community groups,” Krovoza said. “One of the challenges going into election day is communicating with voters through new media and other sources.”

Candidate and second-year UC Davis School of Law student Daniel Watts hopes to represent student needs in City Council.

“None of the other candidates are students and I don’t think any of the other candidates are talking about student issues,” Watts said. “Half of the town is students, but they don’t have a voice in on City Council. The city feels they can disregard students’ rights.”

Watts talked about how he believes Davis Police violated students’ rights on Halloween, searching students at random in the streets.

“Students don’t know any better,” Watts said. “Not only is City Council out of touch with students, but they are out of touch with the needs of the community. If they spent less time yelling at each other and spending an hour and half giving out awards, while breaking for cake and punch, they could fix a lot of problems. Parts of the municipal code are even unconstitutional, such as saying offensive words in public.”

Watts’ goals include annexing UC Davis and adjacent areas into the city, so students living on campus can vote in city elections.

Though Councilmember Sue Greenwald has endorsed Krovoza, she does not feel any of the candidates have presented substantive issues.

“There’s nothing particularly interesting anyone is running on,” Greenwald said. “In the past, candidates have run on more issue-based causes, though I’m hopeful that the new council will be less factional or at least take issues one at a time.”

Jon Li, listed as a local public policy analysis, was the final candidate to file election papers. He plans to restructure City Council in order to make it more effective by implementing City Council evaluations and a strategy he calls the viable system model, which clarifies specific responsibilities.

Li officially endorsed Krovoza and said that if Krovoza comes in third and Li in second, he will give up his seat.

“The Council is erratic,” Li said. “It’s supposed to make decisions, but they don’t know how to. Institutional problems are getting bottlenecked because of chemistry issues within Council. The relationship between the Council and city staff is even strained.”

Other candidates are UC Davis alum Sydney Vergis, who has worked on city planning and policy analysis. Vergis filed her papers first on Feb. 16. Davis High School Blue & White Foundation President Rochelle Swanson filed her papers on March 8.

The Davis Chamber of Commerce will host the City Council Forum on April 6.

ANGELA SWARTZ can be reached city@theaggie.org.


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