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Davis, California

Friday, February 23, 2024

Politics for breakfast, anyone?


Davis residents gather for ‘Politics and Pancakes’ election discussion

About 20 Davis residents sat down on Sunday, Oct. 30 to discuss the 13 propositions on the election ballot this year, all while diving into pancakes and delicious brunch favorites.

The goal of the meeting was to have a discussion about the pros and cons of different propositions in order for residents to better understand what the ballot propositions entail and where they, as voters, stood on them.

At the end of the meeting, the main organizers created a humorous and informative voter guide with the straw polls from the discussion and distributed it both in print and online.

Although the event appears to be a quintessential tradition specific to Davis, meetups like this take place across the country during important election years. Danielle Fodor, co-founder of Davis’ Politics and Pancakes, started the event with two of her roommates when she was in graduate school at UC Davis.

She emphasized that the aim of both the meetup and the guide is to simplify the election for Davis’ 60,000 residents and highlight issues that are often overlooked by the electorate.

“The ballot is oftentimes overwhelming, most of us know who we’re going to vote for, for president, or even for governor, but there are so many other things on the ballot that are actually really important things that affect our lives. It’s often difficult to figure out, even for very smart, well-educated people,” Fodor said.

She also highlights that the act of sitting down and discussing the election with community members can reduce the anxiety surrounding the election, as people see that they are not the only ones who feel overwhelmed and unsure.

“It makes it all feel less stressful, because oftentimes, we look at the ballot and think, ‘I don’t know whether I am qualified to make this decision’, and then when you sit there with a bunch of other people, you realize that nobody really knows what decision to make,” Fodor said.

One of the co-authors of this year’s guide, Bobby Arlen, is new to the event, and said that he was encouraged to get involved when he stumbled across a Politics and Pancakes voter guide in a previous year and was impressed by its content.

“I thought it was the greatest resource for voting that I’d ever seen. People always are saying that they’ve changed their minds on issues. I’ve had people say that our voter guide was more helpful to them than the official guide,” Arlen said.

According to Alan Miller, a co-organizer of this year’s event and a regular co-author of the voter guide, the bi-partisan discussion during the event shows that opinions are often not completely in line with people’s preferred political parties. Miller said that for issues like the abolition of the death penalty, the straw poll showed unanimous backing for the proposition.

“We try to present all opinions that are brought up in the meetings, we don’t try to sway the vote one way or another. We kind of just give people an idea of what the general feeling of the group was by conducting straw polls,” Miller said. “We got people who represent all different sides to each proposition, in no way do we keep it in a [specific] party’s perspective of the matter. We did unanimously vote on certain matters even though we may have different opinions on why we voted for it. I’m really hoping to get more folks involved regardless of age or experience [because] I think everyone has something to bring to the table.”

In terms of the size of the event, Fodor admits that it has stayed between 10  and 40  people over the years, but points out that the influence of the guide has exponentially increased. She says that during Davis City Council elections, candidates often ask if they can sit in on the meetings to hear what issues matter to the electorate.

“People who are campaigning realize that we have some sway and that certain voters listen to us and that’s interesting,” Fodor said. “I think that the size of the event itself stays small, but, if anything, the number of people we influence grows year by year.”

To see previous Politics and Pancake election guides, visit www.davisvanguard.org.

Written by: Juno Bhardwaj-shah – city@theaggie.org


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