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Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Davis City Council selects Josh Chapman for 2024 mayor, Bapu Vaitla as vice mayor

The Davis City Council appointed the positions of Mayor and Vice Mayor without a general election


By CHRIS PONCE — city@theaggie.org

At approximately 1 a.m., after a long discussion regarding a resolution calling for a ceasefire to the war in Gaza, the Davis City Council still had to address Item 6 on the agenda — appointing a new mayor.

In Davis, mayors are appointed yearly by the city council rather than by a general election. At the Dec. 12 city council meeting, the council selected councilmembers Josh Chapman and Bapu Vaitla to serve as mayor and vice mayor respectively for 2024. 

Davis City Manager Mike Webb briefed the council on the rules and processes of selecting a new mayor and vice mayor. Webb said factors such as seniority, the ability to run meetings and the ability to find consensus amongst the council should be considered in the council’s decision. Councilmembers can only serve as mayor for up to two years out of their four-year councilmember term. 

During the meeting, Vaitla thanked last year’s mayor, Will Arnold, for his service to the city and specifically for his leadership during the serial stabbings that occurred in April. Vaitla suggested that Chapman, who was previously vice mayor, should be the new mayor. 

“I think we had a great mayor, and I think [Chapman] would be a fantastic mayor as well,” Vaitla said during the meeting. “[Chapman] has a great leadership style that brings people together [and] builds consensus and I would love to see [Chapman] in that mayoral role for the next year.”

During his time as mayor, Arnold oversaw projects such as the Downtown Davis Plan, Hate-Free Together and the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Arnold said that it was an honor to serve and that he would be open to continue as mayor.

“It has been and continues to be one of the honors of my lifetime to serve our community in this capacity,” Arnold said. “This year, as we all know, has been not what any of us could have expected. And I know whatever I thought the mayorship was a year ago, I have learned that I had no idea.” 

Councilmember Gloria Partida, who was also formerly mayor, thanked Arnold for his leadership but said that there should be a new mayor in order to allow time for other councilmembers to serve in the role.

“Thank you Will, because I’ve really enjoyed your leadership,” Partida said. “And it has been a tough year. We had the serial stabbings and that was a really tough time for the community and you got in front of all of that press and did a really good job of guiding us through that.”

Chapman said that this was the first time the council was electing a mayor by this process and that they should re-examine if there should be changes made.

“No matter what happens tonight, I would encourage us to look at this process on a deeper level to figure out if there [are] changes that we can make,” Chapman said.

Partida also said that she hopes the council will discuss the possibility of having a ballot for residents to elect a mayor at large, rather than being appointed by the council. 

“I would love for us to have a conversation about putting on the ballot an extra box that people can check and vote at large for mayor so we’re back to our old system of choosing mayors, but that’s a different conversation,” Partida said.

During the meeting, Vaitla asked Chapman if he’d be willing to serve in the position and then motioned to nominate him as mayor after he said he’d be willing. Councilmember Donna Neville seconded the motion. Partida shared that, while she disagrees with the system of appointing mayors, she would be happy to see Chapman in the role.

“I think this is a bad system, and I think that for me this sort of makes the point that we should stick to one-year [mayoral] terms because then it’s just what you expect unless there’s an extenuating circumstance,” Partida said.

The council unanimously voted Chapman as mayor. Partida then nominated Vaitla as vice mayor which the council unanimously voted on as well. 


Written by: Chris Ponce — city@theaggie.org


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