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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Local politics matter a lot, actually

With an upcoming city council election and other important projects in the city, the Editorial Board encourages you to pay attention to local politics




With constant and overwhelming exposure to national news through social media and the 24-hour news cycle, it can be difficult to pay attention to everything happening in the U.S. — let alone local politics. The majority of young adults aren’t confident in the future of the U.S., and it can feel impossible to influence policy, but getting involved in local politics can be a way to make a valuable difference in your community. While local elections might not be as publicized as national ones, they are often just as important, if not more important, to making change.

Many policies that affect people’s day-to-day lives are decided on the local level, whether by city council, school boards or the county. For example, the city council is responsible for maintaining roads, approving city budgets and appointing advisory boards. 

City councils can also address broader issues. The city of Davis is currently working on projects to address the housing crisis, combat climate change and support artists and activists, among others.

One such project particularly relevant to students is a plan to repurpose the University Mall. Many residents and students originally hoped the space would be used to provide new housing, but the Davis Planning Commission has approved a plan to convert it into retail space. Councilmember Bapu Vaitla appealed to the council to integrate more housing into the new development plan, but the council rejected the appeal in favor of the retail-only plan. For students struggling to find affordable housing in Davis, electing city councilmembers who prioritize increased housing is a concrete way to have an impact on the issue.

The city has also been taking steps to address climate change through its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). CAAP is the city’s model for reaching carbon neutrality by the year 2040; however, it’s up to concerned citizens to ensure that the city abides by its goals and that councilmembers vote in accordance with the document. Civic engagement in city council is essential if you want plans like CAAP to be more than just a page on their website.

If you feel strongly about any issue the council is discussing, you can, and should, do something about it. Davis City Council meetings are open to the public. Most council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, and during meetings, there is scheduled time for public comments to voice your concerns. If you can’t make it to a scheduled meeting, there is also an option to send an email to CityCouncilMembers@cityofdavis.org with written comments, or call and leave a voicemail to (530) 757-5693 prior to meetings.

Another important way to make a difference in local politics is to vote, or encouraging others to vote. There is an upcoming important special election for Davis City Council District 3 that deserves your attention. This vote-by-mail election takes place on May 2 and will determine the fifth seat on the city council. Both candidates, Donna Neville and Francesca Wright, have prioritized addressing the housing and climate crisis, among other issues.

If you are passionate about a particular candidate, we encourage you not only to vote, but to get involved and volunteer — which you can do on Neville’s and Wright’s websites.

If you are a student registered to vote in your hometown and are hesitant to change that, that’s okay too. However, we encourage you to at least consider registering to vote in your college town. College students make up a large portion of the city of Davis’s population and it’s important to make our voices heard. All you need to do is re-register to vote and enter your college address instead of your home address.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to change your voter registration to the city of Davis, you can impact student life by voting in ASUCD elections, like in the upcoming spring election that will take place from April 24-28. The Senate oversees essential student services like Unitrans, The Pantry and even The California Aggie. During the election, undergraduate students will vote on candidates for Senate, president and vice president, and measures like The Green Initiative Fund fee referendum, which currently provides financial resources to sustainable organizations and projects run by UC Davis undergraduate students. 

As spring ASUCD and city elections approach, we encourage you to take the time to learn about candidates and ballot measures and take advantage of the opportunity to influence local issues by voting.


Written By: The Editorial Board