On Tuesday, May 4, a small group of Davisites gathered at the Odd Fellows Hall in downtown Davis to hear from three Democratic Party members running for city council this year: Sydney Vergis, Daniel Watts and Joe Krovoza.
The Davis Democratic Club hosted an intimate atmosphere, with 15 persons in the audience, many of whom were already well acquainted with each other as well as the speakers.
The candidates have close ties to UCD and unique perspectives on the direction Davis ought to be moving.
Vergis holds degrees in economics and environmental policy. She is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Transportation Technology and Policy at UCD’s Institute of Transportation Studies (ITS). Vergis has a background working in county and city level development committees including a position from 2007-09 as a senior planner on the Sutter County Planning Commission.
“Hopefully what I can bring is experience as someone who has professional background in land use planning,” Vergis said.
She is currently involved in the Davis Tree Commission as well as the Business and Economic Development Commission.
Watts, a second-year law student at UCD, is working against two Davis city ordinances, 26.01.010 and 26.10.100, which target a ban against the act of annoying people and public use of obscene language, respectively. Watts charges that these laws are unconstitutional and violate the federal protections afforded to free speech.
“I see myself as being a mediator between the [UCD] students and the city,” Watts said.
He said that he was troubled that nobody from the City Council was present to reduce tensions between students and law enforcement during the March 4 protests at UCD which culminated in a standoff between the protesters and the Davis Police Department at the I-80 exit on Russell Boulevard.
Krovoza, Senior Director of Development and External Relations at ITS, attended UCD King Hall Law School and specializes in water law. He also chaired the Putah Creek Council for seven years and worked closely with Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) on water issues.
Krovoza said that as a councilmember he will do his best to help the city through tough economic times and would like to focus on improving public transportation, energy efficiency and bicycle access.
“I come from a public service family,” Krovoza said, explaining that both of his parents were schoolteachers in Pasadena County who were active in the movement to desegregate schools.
He always thought he would run for a public office, and since his children are now adults, this is the perfect time, he said.
At least half of those in attendance asked the candidates questions.
“This year we had problems with Picnic Day, what would you suggest to the City Council?” asked one man regarding the rowdy behavior during the April 17 event.
“Move Picnic Day back a month so it will be raining,” joked Vergis, drawing laughter from the crowd. “Let’s put our heads together.”
She said the May 10 meeting between city officials and UCD representatives should prove fruitful. Asking bars not to open their doors in the early morning and advertise drink specials may alleviate chaos in upcoming years, she said.
Krovoza was against discontinuing the event. He said that it represented an opportunity for alumni, parents and prospective students to become acquainted with Davis, as well as advantages for local businesses.
“It is the goose that lays the golden egg,” Krovoza said. “We have to make a very clear statement: Not everyone should just be able to come out and get liquored up. We can restrict open containers; we can discourage businesses from discounting liquor.”
Watts compared the event to the Sun God Festival at UC San Diego where similar festivities consistently resulted in higher arrest rates.
“Two-thirds of those arrested were from out of town,” Watts said.
He would work with the Davis Downtown Business Association to introduce voluntary regulations controlling liquor distribution at local bars. It would not be inconceivable to fence off designated festival areas in downtown Davis where revelers unaffiliated with campus activities could be more closely monitored, he said.
SAMUEL A. COHEN can be reached at email@example.com.