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Davis, California

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Your local voter guide to the 2024 primary election

The March 5 presidential primary election features several candidates and measures that affect California and Yolo County

By THE CITY NEWS DESK city@theaggie.org 

With the March 5 presidential primary election closing in a few days and with plenty of measures, propositions and congressional candidates to choose from, The California Aggie’s city news desk has prepared an in-depth voter guide to several local issues that you should be aware of on your ballot. 

There are ballot drop box locations in Davis located at Davis City Hall, Nugget Markets and outside the Memorial Union. There are also vote centers located at Emerson Junior High School, the Veterans Memorial Center, Montgomery Elementary School and the UC Davis ARC. People can drop off mail-in ballots and vote in-person up until 8 p.m. (even if you are still in line at 8 p.m., it is state law that you can cast your ballot). 

U.S. Senate

California has an upcoming historic Senate election with four major candidates in the running — some of whom have spoken at UC Davis. Regardless of party, the candidates with the top two votes will move on to the general election this November. 

Rep. Adam Schiff — Democrat

Currently, Rep. Schiff is leading in the polls in the election. Schiff visited UC Davis on Feb. 14, 2023 and discussed his experience as former chair of the House of Intelligence Committee during former President Donald Trump’s first two impeachments. Schiff, like the other Democrats, is in favor of a two-state solution to the Israel-Hamas war.

Rep. Katie Porter — Democrat 

Rep. Porter, who is tied for second place in the polls, has focused her campaign on addressing corruption on Capitol Hill. She also visited UC Davis on March 15, 2023, and shared her platform’s focus on grassroots fundraising, addressing gun violence and codifying Roe v. Wade and the Equal Rights Amendment. Porter has also recently called for a bilateral ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war at the second debate.

Steve Garvey — Republican 

Garvey, who is tied for second place in the polls and has campaigned as an outsider in the race, has no elected experience and is a former Los Angeles Dodgers player. His campaign has focused on addressing inflation and auditing state finances. Garvey is the only major candidate who does not support a two-state solution to the Israel-Hamas war.

Rep. Barbara Lee — Democrat

Rep. Lee is currently behind Schiff, Porter and Garvey in the polls. She is known for an anti-war track record, as she voted no to the 2001 Afghanistan war and was also one of the first candidates to call for a ceasefire to the Israel-Hamas war. Lee also has roots in activism — even volunteering with the Black Panther Party in the past.

Congressional (District 4)

Mike Thompson

Rep. Thompson, the incumbent, currently represents California’s 4th Congressional District including Napa, Lake Counties and parts of Solano, Sonoma and Yolo County. First elected into Congress in 1998, Thompson has previously represented California’s 2nd district in the Senate where he chaired the Budget Committee. 

As the first Vietnam Veteran elected to California State Senate, he said his experience has connected to the issue of supporting United States Veterans. 

During his time in office, Thompson has sponsored several acts including the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act of 2020, the Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2020 and the GREEN Act of 2020.

“In Congress, my number one priority is serving the people of our district,” Thompson said in a press release made last November. “I’ve helped constituents recoup tens of millions of dollars from federal agencies and secured funding for local projects that improve water infrastructure, support health care delivery, upgrade public safety communication, strengthen emergency operations, combat flooding and modernize our roads.”

Andrew David Engdahl

Andrew Engdahl decided to run for Congress in 2022 and according to his website, he decided to run again to set an example that it is possible to take money out of politics. 

Engdahl’s key issues include universal healthcare, combating climate change, criminal justice reform and defending the LGBTQIA+ community, amongst other issues. 

Engdahl has a unique experience regarding the issue of healthcare, as after his first bid for Congress he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

“I am officially in remission and have a new lease on life. However, not every American is so lucky,” Engdah’s website states. “We are the only industrialized nation on earth that does not provide universal health care to our citizens and I aim to be a voice to change that. Healthcare is a human right and it’s high time that we put people over profits, once and for all.”

Niket Patwardhan

Coming to the United States as a graduate student with a degree in computer science, Niket Patwardhan is the son of a German mother and Indian father.

“I came to the US as a computer science graduate student with total admiration for the American government and American technology, particularly the US Constitution and the space program,” the campaign website reads. “The foundation was beautiful — especially the idea that the government exists to secure the right of people to ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’”

Patwardhan’s platform focuses include fighting party tribalism, people’s agency, reining in medical costs and voter access among other facets. 

John Munn

John Munn is a lifelong California resident who has previously served on the Davis School Board and as president of the Yolo School Boards Association, the Yolo Taxpayers Association and California’s Professional Soil Scientists Association.

If elected, Munn’s priorities include lowering national debt while supporting national defense and protecting Social Security and Medicare, regaining control over crime, fuel prices, inflation and other government constraints as well as transparent healthcare.

“Now, I am asking ‘is this what you want?’ our national debt is approaching $32 trillion ($95,000 per person), more than we spend annually for private goods and services,” Munn’s website reads. “This is passed to future generations. And nearly another $2 trillion was borrowed this year. Let’s quit spending what we don’t have, while supporting national defense and protecting Social Security and Medicare that we have paid for.

Due to his history working at a variety of agricultural jobs such as the US Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Munn has a background in issues that he views are “badly needed for future environmental, agricultural, and natural science legislation.”

County Supervisor District 4 

Antonio De Loera-Brust

Antonio De Loera-Brust, Davis native and son to Mexican immigrant parents, is running for District 4 County Supervisor. De Loera-Brust graduated from Davis High School in 2013 before attending Loyola Marymount University to study film and Chicano Studies. 

De Loera-Brust has held several local and federal government positions, including serving as a legislative aide in the U.S. House of Representatives and a policy advisor to Secretary Julian Castro and Senator Elizabeth Warren. De Loera-Brust also served as special assistant to Secretary Anthony Blinken at the U.S. Department of State as part of the Biden-Harris Administration.

De Loera-Brust stated on his campaign website, “Today, our County faces complicated and enduring challenges. But it is my belief that there is nothing wrong with Yolo County that cannot be solved with what’s right in Yolo County: our people, our values and our belief in the government to make life better.” 

Currently, De Loera-Brust serves as Communications Director for the United Farm Workers. He has also worked closely to assist many local Yolo County families with obtaining food, healthcare and housing for the past ten years.

If elected, De Loera-Brust aims to focus on several key issues, including strengthening county services, fixing traffic and improving transit, expanding affordable housing, public safety and justice for workers and immigrants. He also emphasizes the importance of climate resiliency and conservation in the city of Davis. 

De Loera-Brust has been endorsed by a range of organizations and politicians, including the United Farm Workers, Congressman Joaquin Castro, former Mayor of Davis Robb Davis and Davis Vice Mayor Bapu Vaitla.

Sheila Allen

Sheila Allen, RN, Ph.D., current Deputy to Supervisor Jim Provenza, announced that she would be running for County Supervisor for District 4 in May 2023.

Allen, originally a rural Wisconsin native, moved to the city of Davis in 1993 with her husband Mitch after pursuing her public health educational career in San Francisco and providing in-home nursing services to families in Southside Chicago. 

Allen became involved in the Davis community when she first moved. She served as president of the Parent Teacher Association, served on the school board for nine years, became an inaugural Yolo County First 5 Commissioner and advanced several ballot measures that helped better support Davis students. Allen has also received the Woman of the Year Award on two occasions, from both Senator Bill Dodd and Congressman John Garamendi.

In 2010, Allen founded the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, a nonprofit that promotes the well-being of older adults through education, collaboration and advocacy, where she served as executive director for 13 years. Since 2022, Allen has served as the deputy to Supervisor Jim Provenza.

“My passion and life’s work are to bring people together to address local problems and needs,” Allen said in a press release. “I care about and have served the youngest to the oldest in our community. As we plan for our future, we always have to remember that our choices impact residents’ day-to-day lives, and that is really what matters.”

Allen stresses the importance of various issues in the city of Davis, including affordable housing, education, women’s rights, mental health, homelessness, public health, the economy and climate change. Due to her strong public health background, Allen focuses on programs that adequately address possible health concerns, including CalFresh, CalWORKS and WIC.

Allen’s endorsements include Davis College Democrats, State Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Senator Bill Dodd, Assembly Majority Leader Cecilia Aguilar-Curry and Davis Mayor Will Arnold.

Nathalie “NJ” Mvondo

Natalie “NJ” Mvondo, a grassroots organizer, announced that she would be running for County Supervisor for District 4 in Sept. 2023. 

Mvondo grew up in Cameroon and later moved to France to attend public school. She moved to the U.S. in 2004 to further pursue her education and studied sociocultural anthropology and nutrition at a local community college. Mvondo moved to Davis in 2009 to care for her parents.

Mvondo has been an involved member of the community since moving to Davis. She has founded Davis Network for Africa, helped co-organize the Solidarity Space in response to the murder of George Floyd, created the Interactive Healing Arts Project during the COVID-19 pandemic and more. Mvondo currently serves as chair of the city of Davis’ Human Relations Commission. 

Mvondo wants to highlight the significance of climate and environmental issues, as Davis plans to be carbon-negative by 2030. 

“With every decision that is taken, we [need to] ask ourselves the question, how does that impact the environment?” Mvondo said at the League of Women’s Voters forum on Jan. 31. “It calls for collaboration among sectors and from everyone.”

Her campaign also focuses on other issues, including housing insecurity, a sustainable economy, public transportation, disability services and community safety.

Mvondo has been endorsed by former Mayor of Davis Ruth Asmundson, former Police 

Chief Calvin Handy, Yolo County Climate Action Commissioner Mark Aulman and more. 

Recall of Woodland Joint Unified School District Trustee Emily MacDonald 

Emily MacDonald is a governing board member representing Trustee Area 2 for Woodland Joint Unified School District (WJUSD). MacDonald was elected to the board in 2022, and if not recalled, her term will last through 2026. 

A petition was filed to recall MacDonald because of comments she made at a WJUSD board meeting on June 15, 2023,  where she expressed concern over supporting transgender students and their right to seek medical procedures as a result of their gender identity. In the statement she read at the meeting, she said the increase in transgender identity “has been so massive that [it] defies any reasonable explanation but at least some degree of social contagion.” 

The petition filed to recall MacDonald had 1,350 signatures when it was submitted in Nov. 2023. Supporters of the recall state that her comments go against WJUSD’s commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive environment for students, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

MacDonald is currently one of seven members serving on WJUSD’s board of trustees. When elected to the board, she ran on a platform of improving math and reading scores in Woodland schools and increasing transparency to families in the district. Trustees are responsible for representing the interests of families in the district, approving the district’s budget and advocating for students. If MacDonald is recalled, the position will be temporarily vacant. 

Judge of the Superior Court, Department 14 

Chris Dietrich

Dietrich, a UC Davis Law School alum and candidate for Yolo County Superior Court, has lived in Yolo County his whole life and is certified to practice law in the area. 

Dietrich has worked locally for the past decade, helping those living in Yolo County with civil legal matters. Over the past nine years, Dietrich has run free legal clinics for survivors of domestic violence.

Dietrich has wanted to be a judge for most of his legal career as he greatly respects the work that judges do and is prepared to take on the challenge to help his community.

“When I entered the legal profession, I knew I wanted to do something that would help […] make a difference in the lives of individuals,” Dietrich said. “That desire led me to practice primarily in the world of family law, where I deal with some of the most important issues imaginable […], and it’s that same desire for service that has led me to seek out opportunities to serve the community in my legal profession. That same desire leads me to run for judge of the Yolo County Superior Court.”

Clara Levers

Levers, also a UC Davis Law School alum and candidate on the ballot for Yolo County Superior Court, has served as deputy attorney general in California’s Department of Justice for 15 years. Levers’s legal focus has mainly been on criminal law.

Levers has volunteered at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation for over two decades, helping individuals with DACA applications and the naturalization process. Levers has also been a fervent advocate for women’s reproductive rights and protecting immigrants’ rights.

Lever hopes to bring fairness and respect to the courtroom as a judge and to use her years of legal experience to help her community.

“My connections and my commitment to this community will push me to be an excellent judge,” Levers said. “As a judge, I will exemplify professionalism, fairness and respect to all parties, attorneys and witnesses. In doing so, I hope to encourage civility in litigation, bolster public confidence in the courts and fairly administer justice.”

Proposition 1 

If voted “Yes,” Proposition 1 will allocate funds through bonds and authorize $6.38 billion to build mental health treatment facilities and transform current facilities. It will also provide more housing to those with mental health and substance abuse issues as well as the unhoused population. The proposition has been endorsed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the California Teachers Association, the California Medical Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness California.

If voted “No,” the current use of county funds via the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) would remain unchanged. The League of Women Voters Davis Area (LWVDA) has voiced opposition to this proposition. The group believes that the current local distribution of MHSA funds is adequate for addressing local problems. 

Others that oppose the measure are the Rural County Representatives of California, the County Behavioral Health Directors Association, the County Wealth Fair Directors Association and the County Health Executive Association of California. Proposition 1 was placed on the ballot by the state legislature, meaning it did not go through California voters. For it to pass, the proposition simply needs a majority vote. 

Measure N (Davis)

Measure N will replace the existing Measure H, which created a parcel tax — a property tax that is based on property units — and was first approved during the 2016 presidential election by voters within the Davis community. The parcel tax costs each resident an estimated $64 monthly, or $768 annually, and raises approximately $11.7 million annually that funds public education within Davis Joint Unified School District. 

The Yolo County Elections Office noted that adjustments will be made to consider inflation and ensure that exemptions for seniors and people with disabilities are included within the parcel tax. 

Evan Jacobs, a community activist involved in the Yes4Students campaign that supports Measure N, shared that Davis schools are able to provide their students with outstanding academic and extracurricular programs because of the funding it has received from Measure H. 

Davis is a community built on knowledge and education. From world-class UC Davis to our kindergarten classrooms, education is at our core,” Jacobs said. “Passage of Measure N will keep excellence in Davis public schools by renewing the parcel tax that has been supporting our classrooms for 40 years.” 

However, banners displayed by Davis schools about the positive effects of parcel taxes have received criticism for their funding. Dhillon Law Group recently filed a cease and desist order against Davis Joint Unified School District (DJUSD), accusing them of using DJUSD funds to advocate for the measure. 

Written by: The City News Desk city@theaggie.org 


Correction: A previous version of this article stated that California State Association of Counties had opposed Proposition 1. However, the association has not taken a stance on the proposition.


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