Davis city council candidates and ballot Measures Q and R were the subjects of debate at the Davis League of Women Voters’ (LWV) assembly last Friday.
Jean Canary, vice president of the LWV’s local chapter, began the meeting with a reminder to all in attendance and those watching the televised broadcast that the June City of Davis Municipal and Special Election is just around the corner. Discussion over key components of the future elections made up the entirety of the gathering.
All five city council candidates – Joe Krovoza, Jon Li, Rochelle Swanson, Sydney Vergis and Daniel Watts – were the first June 8th election element to be addressed at the gathering.
As moderator, Canary allotted each candidate a set amount of time to introduce themselves and then, as the evening progressed, answer questions from the LWV and audience members.
Although many concepts, such as long-term solutions for Davis’ monetary problems, were reiterated throughout the forum, council hopeful and current UC Davis School of Law student, Watts, took a unique approach.
“What I offer is a representative of [UC Davis] students on city council. I could be a voice for them.” Watts said. “It’s in everyone’s best interest that the students feel happy here. [They’re] a large population.”
Watts and other candidates mentioned tensions between university students and police after the protests earlier this year. The average age for a Davis resident is increasing, which Watts said, should be a reason for community members to take action. If the city wants students to return and raise a family, he advised, it must make the environment more inclusive, starting with the City Council.
Candidates presented decisive opinions when the moderator asked if any were accepting funds from public employee groups whose contracts they would be negotiating. Swanson came out strongly against collecting both money and endorsements from such groups.
“Perception matters,” she said. “I think it’s important that when we make tough decisions people know it’s fair and not based on anything else.”
In agreement, Li believes public salaries are grossly inflated and accepting money from public employees leads to the continual escalation of these salaries. Vergis said she collected funds but underscored the city’s $100 dollar limit for donors.
Following the candidates’ forum a debate opened, contesting the benefits or detriments of Measure R and Measure Q.
Throughout the candidates’ discussion Krovoza — UC Davis School of Law alumnus and current university development director – preached the benefits of Measure R. The measure, which will be on the June ballot, is an extension of current Measure J. If passed, it will afford Davis citizens the right to vote on the future use of open and agricultural land.
Davis resident Mark Spencer spoke in favor of the measure, claiming it is a moderate assurance that the citizens of Davis will be able to retain a measure of control over their community.
On the opposing side was Jerry Adler who had previously championed against Measure J a decade ago.
“[Measure R] requires all voters in Davis to become city planners. Now come on, who’s going to read [a construction proposal]? It’s not going to be read. It’s going to be a vote where an uninformed member of the public is going to be second-guessing an informed council,” Adler said. “We go from control growth to no growth with Measure R.”
The final matter addressed at Friday’s meeting was Measure Q, which would authorize the continuation of a one-half cent sales tax to be used for general government purposes.
Current councilmember Sue Greenwald spoke in support of the measure claiming the tax brings in $3 million annually, without which Davis would run through its reserves in two years.
David Musser argued the entire reason the city is in financial peril is due to faulty handling of funds by those collecting the tax in the first place. To put more money back into the hands of those who caused the problem, he said, would only perpetuate it. Musser also claimed public employees’ salaries have been grossly escalated.
Canary adjourned the congregation on the heels of the measure discussions.
“Both of these measures will greatly affect [Davis] in the future,” she said.
KELLEY REES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.