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Davis, California

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Five City Council candidates vie for two seats

Elections for the open Davis City Council seats will take place on June 3, and five candidates are running for two four-year terms. The Aggie interviewed the five candidates about their experiences and goals.

John Munn

John Munn, a resident of the City of Davis since 1978 and a UC Davis grad who spends his free time working on his family ranch outside of Davis, believes that Davis City Council needs to evaluate the city’s budget before throwing more money at it.

“Davis has become a very expensive place, and additional state service fees and taxes will make it very difficult for middle income families and fixed income residents to stay here,” Munn said.

Munn has spent time looking at the highly disputed Davis surface water project and is concerned that there is no definitive information that says that Davis’ groundwater resources aren’t adequate as they are.

He described the project as a luxury car. In theory appealing to voters, the project would at least double or triple the amount that Davis residents would pay for water, which some people may not be able to afford. He added that this cost would be passed on renters, like the college students that make up about half of the population of the City of Davis.

Alzada Knickerbocker, owner of The Avid Reader bookstore in downtown Davis, has known Munn for many years.

She mentioned his work on the school board when Munn came into a situation with impending deficits in 1997. By the time he left the school board in 2001, income gaps had been closed, and the budget was transparent to the public and staff.

“He has a record of accomplishment and paying attention to citizens,” Knickerbocker said. “You can’t ask for more from an elected official.”

Robb Davis

Since Robb Davis did part of his public health dissertation on the back of a camel in Mauritania, he has worked tirelessly on public health issues.

In the short term, Davis wants to focus on bringing fiscal sustainability to the City of Davis through expanding the revenue base and containing our current costs. Looking more long term, Davis wants to work on social and environmental sustainability, as well as improving public health, especially homelessness.

Current City Council Member Brett Lee said that through his experience working with Davis on the Bicycle Advisory Commission, he found Davis to be good at analyzing information.

“I like the way he approaches problem solving,” Lee said. “He’s trying to get facts and information. He’s less emotional and more thought out.”

Davis has lived in the City of Davis since 1999 when he moved with his wife, Nancy, who got a job at the UC Davis College of Engineering. Davis has worked in public health and taken on volunteer roles in the City of Davis, including the Bike Advisory Commission, Neighborhood Courts and Davis Community Meals. They’ve raised two kids of their own in the City of Davis, and now have grandkids in the city as well.

Davis said that he has no interest in climbing the political ladder beyond City Council.

“He wants to help make Davis a better place,” Lee said. “He’s a community-based candidate.”

Sheila Allen

Sheila Allen, who holds a Ph.D. in nursing, moved to the City of Davis in 1993 when her husband, Mitch Sutter, got a teaching position at UC Davis. She loves the Farmers Market, and specifically the “gauntlet” — that area towards the end of the market where people stop to talk about the “issue du jour.”

If you see Allen at the “gauntlet,” know that she’s happy to chat with you. Specifically, Allen is interested in making the City of Davis a “caring community,” increasing retail in downtown Davis and balancing the budget of the City of Davis. She supports the 0.5 percent sales tax increase and wants to build a research park in the city for UC Davis graduates to get good jobs that will keep them in the area.

Allen mentioned that she’s on the most committees of any of the candidates, and loves policy. In the past, she has created a tax on cigarettes which goes towards helping children between the ages of zero and five, and brought the Head Start Program to Davis, a preschool for low income children. She’s also been involved with the school board for a number of years.

Lucas Frerichs, a current City Council member, said that Allen is the collaborator that the City of Davis needs to make tough decisions.

“She has a real strong track record of leadership and public service,” Frerichs said. “Plus, on day one she will come in knowing how local government works and can hit the ground running.”

Daniel Parrella

Daniel Parrella was born and raised in Davis and attended UC Santa Barbara until he was forced to drop out due to the cost of living. Now, Parrella is running for City Council to save other students from falling into a similar situation.

“Eventually, I want to start a family here,” Parrella said. “But I realized that I could never afford the house that I grew up in.”

Parrella is focused on creating high paying jobs for graduates through a business park, generating more revenue to avoid raising taxes and setting clear budget priorities to avoid frivolous spending.

Since coming back from UC Santa Barbara, Parrella has started Spearhead Solar, a company which markets and sells solar panels primarily in the Davis, Walnut Creek and Concord areas. While attending UC Santa Barbara, Parrella was involved in Congresswoman Lois Capps’ campaign.

Parrella’s campaign manager, Mario Salvagno, said that Parrella has the spine to say no to projects that don’t make sense and is the change that the City of Davis needs to move forward.

“He knows how to manage money, he’s responsible and he’s well informed,” Salvagno said. “The City of Davis needs to grow responsibly.”

Salvagno, who has known Parrella since high school, said that he’s the kind of guy who will put his mind to something and dive into it as if it’s the only thing that matters.

According to Salvagno, he and Parrella have seen the city led on a course counter to what they know and love about it.

“We need to shuffle the deck here,” Salvagno said. “We don’t want to rock the boat too much, but it’s adapt or die.”

Rochelle Swanson

Rochelle Swanson, originally elected to Davis City Council in 2010, is running for a second term to continue her work on fiscal health, innovation and neighborhood cohesion.

Swanson has lived in the City of Davis for 22 years, and loves running down Russell Boulevard along UC property and looking south of Montgomery Boulevard across farms. But she is concerned that the city’s unbalanced budget puts the city’s services, parks and greenbelts in jeopardy.

As a fellow Aggie, she wants to see the City of Davis and UC Davis get closer.

“We need to forge a true dynamic partnership in which UC Davis drives a regional innovation economy, with the City of Davis as its center of gravity,” Swanson said in an email.

Swanson’s campaign manager Neil Ruud, also a UC Davis graduate, said that Swanson is the candidate most likely to encourage economic growth in the City of Davis. Swanson helped to establish Davis Roots, a local organization that helps young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground.

When Ruud was still a student at UC Davis, he lobbied the City Council in favor of a new radio tower, and saw Swanson at work.

“I saw Rochelle’s passion, rationality and commitment to Davis’ values,” Ruud said in an email. “I’ve witnessed the vital and unique role that she plays on the City Council.”

TAYLOR CUNNINGHAM  can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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