Post-Mortem: Davis Voters Approve Target Narrowly

Despite being heavily outspent by well over a 10:1 ratio, the grass-roots progressives who fought against a Target in Davis fought valiently and made this race much closer than I predicted.

The Don’t Big-Box Davis people blasted out a statement early this morning:

“The election results show that there was no mandate for bringing a Target store to Davis – a razor-thin majority of votors chose faceless big-box retail, despite the obvious negative effects it will have on our city.”

In the end, I believe that most people in Davis who ended up voting for this project were not ideological about their decision. They liked the idea of a cheap and convenient place where they could do their shopping.

I can appreciate that desire, particularly among the student population who lack resources and sometimes the ability to drive outside of town. The real question that I think a more responsible city council should have addressed was this: if we need a cheap and convenient place to shop for a variety of items, is Target the best option?

In the end, the Council Majority favored the building of Target–the four members who placed this on the ballot all endorsed it. We never had a true discussion about alternatives to Target. Instead we had another hard fought and bitterly divisive election that pinned citizen against citizen and merchant against merchant. And we’ll see where this ends up. But the council has in the past expressed concerns about a bitterly divided community–and yet their own actions contribute to it. They dismissed, remember, the HRC because they felt it was dividing the community.

For me, I worry about the divide in this community between the progressive left that I have affinity to and those who seem much more pro-development even as it changes the nature and character of this community.

But I worry far more about the cynical manipulations that we have seen in the effort to get these things past. I wasn’t heavily involved in Davis politics last year for Covell Village. I saw some of the tactics second and third hand and they were concerning.

This time there were a few issues that really struck as misleading and underhanded.

First, the whole Green Target issue. Look, it’s Target, it’s a large corporation, they buy products from sweat shops, they buy products that are not produced in a sustainable and environmentally friendly manner. If that doesn’t matter to you–that’s fine, but let’s not pretend like we can have a green Target. Let’s not pretend that putting a Target in a LEED building is going to make environmentally friendly. That’s a cynical and manipulative ploy.

Second, the issue of tax revenue. We never had a realistic discussion on how much revenue would come in, how much would be transferred from one sector to another, and finally how much Target would produce versus how much an alternative might produce.

Third, the issue of jobs which related to living wage. Fact is, people who work at Target will not be able to reside in Davis and that means that any benefit of drawing jobs into Davis will be negated by the loss of transfer of money from worker to economy.

Fourth, as we’ve been covering all week, the cynical manipulation of Davis voters on the issue of the PLA and labor peace. The railroading of Lamar Heystek’s proposal to create a living wage ordinance under false guise that there was a deal in the works and this would jeopardize it. It turns out, as we have reported, there is no such overlap.

Finally, how much of the background activity by Souza and Saylor that took place without Council knowledge or approval, bent or broke laws. We need to have a fair accounting of that, I urge the Mayor and Councilmember Heystek to press for an investigation into these activities.

I do not think these issues are over and I urge the citizens of Davis to press their elected officials for answers on some of the behind the scenes activities that have been revealed.

In the end, the Council got their project, the slight majority got their cheap and convenient shopping outlet, and now the question is, what will be the price we pay for all of this. We’ll find out in the next several years.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Elections

68 comments

  1. Just to make things a little more exciting, it turns out that Oakley has not declared a winner on K yet. There are 5,000 absentees (and these came in late when No on K had momentum), as well as 1,900 provisional ballots. Yes, it’s a long shot, but that’s 25-30% of the total vote potentially. Like with Lamar and Ruth, the extra votes will most likely reinforce the going trend, but I wouldn’t pop the cork yet if I was on Team “I Heart Target.” That said, I’m not holding my breath for the No folks. Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).

  2. Just to make things a little more exciting, it turns out that Oakley has not declared a winner on K yet. There are 5,000 absentees (and these came in late when No on K had momentum), as well as 1,900 provisional ballots. Yes, it’s a long shot, but that’s 25-30% of the total vote potentially. Like with Lamar and Ruth, the extra votes will most likely reinforce the going trend, but I wouldn’t pop the cork yet if I was on Team “I Heart Target.” That said, I’m not holding my breath for the No folks. Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).

  3. Just to make things a little more exciting, it turns out that Oakley has not declared a winner on K yet. There are 5,000 absentees (and these came in late when No on K had momentum), as well as 1,900 provisional ballots. Yes, it’s a long shot, but that’s 25-30% of the total vote potentially. Like with Lamar and Ruth, the extra votes will most likely reinforce the going trend, but I wouldn’t pop the cork yet if I was on Team “I Heart Target.” That said, I’m not holding my breath for the No folks. Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).

  4. Just to make things a little more exciting, it turns out that Oakley has not declared a winner on K yet. There are 5,000 absentees (and these came in late when No on K had momentum), as well as 1,900 provisional ballots. Yes, it’s a long shot, but that’s 25-30% of the total vote potentially. Like with Lamar and Ruth, the extra votes will most likely reinforce the going trend, but I wouldn’t pop the cork yet if I was on Team “I Heart Target.” That said, I’m not holding my breath for the No folks. Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).

  5. Interesting development… No on K definitely had the momentum and the Enterprise article about the “shenanigans”(malevolent definition) a few days before the election wouldn’t have sat well with Davis voters. If these votes get No on K within shouting distance, there needs to be a good look-see at the early absentee ballots for Yes on K. This is pure speculation but given what kind of corporate entity we are dealing with here, there may very well have been an army of hired young people rounding up student absentee Yes on K ballots that they got signed and then submitted(didn’t rely on the student mailing them in). This may all pass legal scrutiny but if they were paid by the piece, there probably was some shenanigans going on here.

  6. Interesting development… No on K definitely had the momentum and the Enterprise article about the “shenanigans”(malevolent definition) a few days before the election wouldn’t have sat well with Davis voters. If these votes get No on K within shouting distance, there needs to be a good look-see at the early absentee ballots for Yes on K. This is pure speculation but given what kind of corporate entity we are dealing with here, there may very well have been an army of hired young people rounding up student absentee Yes on K ballots that they got signed and then submitted(didn’t rely on the student mailing them in). This may all pass legal scrutiny but if they were paid by the piece, there probably was some shenanigans going on here.

  7. Interesting development… No on K definitely had the momentum and the Enterprise article about the “shenanigans”(malevolent definition) a few days before the election wouldn’t have sat well with Davis voters. If these votes get No on K within shouting distance, there needs to be a good look-see at the early absentee ballots for Yes on K. This is pure speculation but given what kind of corporate entity we are dealing with here, there may very well have been an army of hired young people rounding up student absentee Yes on K ballots that they got signed and then submitted(didn’t rely on the student mailing them in). This may all pass legal scrutiny but if they were paid by the piece, there probably was some shenanigans going on here.

  8. Interesting development… No on K definitely had the momentum and the Enterprise article about the “shenanigans”(malevolent definition) a few days before the election wouldn’t have sat well with Davis voters. If these votes get No on K within shouting distance, there needs to be a good look-see at the early absentee ballots for Yes on K. This is pure speculation but given what kind of corporate entity we are dealing with here, there may very well have been an army of hired young people rounding up student absentee Yes on K ballots that they got signed and then submitted(didn’t rely on the student mailing them in). This may all pass legal scrutiny but if they were paid by the piece, there probably was some shenanigans going on here.

  9. “Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).”

    I think it is a mandate. It’s not an overwhelming mandate. But it is the mandate of most of Davis.

    Among the people who have long supported the Target project in Davis, I thought it was a good idea for the city council to put this on the ballot after the council majority voted 4-1 to approve it. They could have just given the Target project the go ahead without turning to a vote of the people. Had they done that, however, the anti-Target crowd would have screamed that the council was out of touch with a majority of Davis residents (as they were on Measure X). So the only way to get a real mandate was to let the voters decide. That is just what they did and it proved that they were right: the people of Davis do want Target here.

    The big question remaining — assuming that the votes left uncounted don’t change the outcome — is what the council will now do to make sure that the downtown and other business areas of town remain attractive, as far as public accommodations go. The city will now have millions of dollars to make that happen.

  10. “Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).”

    I think it is a mandate. It’s not an overwhelming mandate. But it is the mandate of most of Davis.

    Among the people who have long supported the Target project in Davis, I thought it was a good idea for the city council to put this on the ballot after the council majority voted 4-1 to approve it. They could have just given the Target project the go ahead without turning to a vote of the people. Had they done that, however, the anti-Target crowd would have screamed that the council was out of touch with a majority of Davis residents (as they were on Measure X). So the only way to get a real mandate was to let the voters decide. That is just what they did and it proved that they were right: the people of Davis do want Target here.

    The big question remaining — assuming that the votes left uncounted don’t change the outcome — is what the council will now do to make sure that the downtown and other business areas of town remain attractive, as far as public accommodations go. The city will now have millions of dollars to make that happen.

  11. “Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).”

    I think it is a mandate. It’s not an overwhelming mandate. But it is the mandate of most of Davis.

    Among the people who have long supported the Target project in Davis, I thought it was a good idea for the city council to put this on the ballot after the council majority voted 4-1 to approve it. They could have just given the Target project the go ahead without turning to a vote of the people. Had they done that, however, the anti-Target crowd would have screamed that the council was out of touch with a majority of Davis residents (as they were on Measure X). So the only way to get a real mandate was to let the voters decide. That is just what they did and it proved that they were right: the people of Davis do want Target here.

    The big question remaining — assuming that the votes left uncounted don’t change the outcome — is what the council will now do to make sure that the downtown and other business areas of town remain attractive, as far as public accommodations go. The city will now have millions of dollars to make that happen.

  12. “Clearly not the “mandate” that ASS touted (Asmundson, Saylor and Souza).”

    I think it is a mandate. It’s not an overwhelming mandate. But it is the mandate of most of Davis.

    Among the people who have long supported the Target project in Davis, I thought it was a good idea for the city council to put this on the ballot after the council majority voted 4-1 to approve it. They could have just given the Target project the go ahead without turning to a vote of the people. Had they done that, however, the anti-Target crowd would have screamed that the council was out of touch with a majority of Davis residents (as they were on Measure X). So the only way to get a real mandate was to let the voters decide. That is just what they did and it proved that they were right: the people of Davis do want Target here.

    The big question remaining — assuming that the votes left uncounted don’t change the outcome — is what the council will now do to make sure that the downtown and other business areas of town remain attractive, as far as public accommodations go. The city will now have millions of dollars to make that happen.

  13. I don’t really think there is going to be millions to play with. For one thing, the revenue is project around 600K. For another the city is not in good shape financially, this may allow them at best to break even and at worst still be in the red. And that’s several years down the line.

  14. I don’t really think there is going to be millions to play with. For one thing, the revenue is project around 600K. For another the city is not in good shape financially, this may allow them at best to break even and at worst still be in the red. And that’s several years down the line.

  15. I don’t really think there is going to be millions to play with. For one thing, the revenue is project around 600K. For another the city is not in good shape financially, this may allow them at best to break even and at worst still be in the red. And that’s several years down the line.

  16. I don’t really think there is going to be millions to play with. For one thing, the revenue is project around 600K. For another the city is not in good shape financially, this may allow them at best to break even and at worst still be in the red. And that’s several years down the line.

  17. Souza and Saylor suddenly turned populist to take credit for offering the citizens of Davis a referendum on K. It was evident to all who were paying attention to this issue that any attempt to amend the General Plan from the dais would be met with an immediate(and unquestionably successful) collection of signatures for a citizen referendum. Souza and Saylor slying opted for initiating the referendum from the dais and in so doing maintaining a measure of control on the situation. Saylor and Souza respecting and desiring citizen input? Give me a break!

  18. Souza and Saylor suddenly turned populist to take credit for offering the citizens of Davis a referendum on K. It was evident to all who were paying attention to this issue that any attempt to amend the General Plan from the dais would be met with an immediate(and unquestionably successful) collection of signatures for a citizen referendum. Souza and Saylor slying opted for initiating the referendum from the dais and in so doing maintaining a measure of control on the situation. Saylor and Souza respecting and desiring citizen input? Give me a break!

  19. Souza and Saylor suddenly turned populist to take credit for offering the citizens of Davis a referendum on K. It was evident to all who were paying attention to this issue that any attempt to amend the General Plan from the dais would be met with an immediate(and unquestionably successful) collection of signatures for a citizen referendum. Souza and Saylor slying opted for initiating the referendum from the dais and in so doing maintaining a measure of control on the situation. Saylor and Souza respecting and desiring citizen input? Give me a break!

  20. Souza and Saylor suddenly turned populist to take credit for offering the citizens of Davis a referendum on K. It was evident to all who were paying attention to this issue that any attempt to amend the General Plan from the dais would be met with an immediate(and unquestionably successful) collection of signatures for a citizen referendum. Souza and Saylor slying opted for initiating the referendum from the dais and in so doing maintaining a measure of control on the situation. Saylor and Souza respecting and desiring citizen input? Give me a break!

  21. i was on the other side of X, FWIW, but i expect that you are right that the narrow majority of davis voters were in favor of K because of the inexpensive and convenient shopping (and simply hadn’t thought of – or didn’t really care – the long-term impact on davis businesses).

    davis politics seems to be hopelessly conservative (not in the common political usage of the word, but positionally) in my mind, in the sense of being taken with the stylistic trappings of ‘progressvism’ but generally incapable of dreaming anything on par with the actual progressive dreams of the 1970s, which brought us the whole earth festival, farmer’s market, community clinic, davis food co-op, bike lanes and the like. the best we’ve gotten in the past decade or two is the expansion of central park, really. beyond that, nothing really all thaty much to speak of (who is honestly all that proud of working to oppose the richards blvd undercrossing? the pole line overcrossing?)

    what i would love to see, and what would require a great deal of honest and careful attempts to engage the community at large instead of just playing progressive martyr, is for progressives to take a long, hard look at what we want this town of ours to become, and then get to work creating that reality.

    both sides of davis politics, moderates and progressives alike, seem to be focused on defending a positionally conservative stance of preserving davis, instead of actually progressing forward topwards any sort of vision. does that make any sense?

    an actual living wage, better bus service around town and on weekends, downtown densification in a way that satisfies davis’ need for both more small local business and affordable housing, citywide composting, or whatever would all be preferable to the current status quo of dueling groups of upper-middle class professional homeowners dueling over what aspect of davis to preserve.

    measure k was a fisaco, and a terrible decision, both in the city council and collectively in yesterday’s election, but i don’t get the sense of any actual guiding vision of this town’s future on either side. mike corbett and donna lott, both considered to be ‘moderates’ by today’s (skewed IMO) political benchmarks, had that sense back in the 60s and 70s. i fear that we have lost that, and have not really replaced it by anything worthwhile yet.

  22. i was on the other side of X, FWIW, but i expect that you are right that the narrow majority of davis voters were in favor of K because of the inexpensive and convenient shopping (and simply hadn’t thought of – or didn’t really care – the long-term impact on davis businesses).

    davis politics seems to be hopelessly conservative (not in the common political usage of the word, but positionally) in my mind, in the sense of being taken with the stylistic trappings of ‘progressvism’ but generally incapable of dreaming anything on par with the actual progressive dreams of the 1970s, which brought us the whole earth festival, farmer’s market, community clinic, davis food co-op, bike lanes and the like. the best we’ve gotten in the past decade or two is the expansion of central park, really. beyond that, nothing really all thaty much to speak of (who is honestly all that proud of working to oppose the richards blvd undercrossing? the pole line overcrossing?)

    what i would love to see, and what would require a great deal of honest and careful attempts to engage the community at large instead of just playing progressive martyr, is for progressives to take a long, hard look at what we want this town of ours to become, and then get to work creating that reality.

    both sides of davis politics, moderates and progressives alike, seem to be focused on defending a positionally conservative stance of preserving davis, instead of actually progressing forward topwards any sort of vision. does that make any sense?

    an actual living wage, better bus service around town and on weekends, downtown densification in a way that satisfies davis’ need for both more small local business and affordable housing, citywide composting, or whatever would all be preferable to the current status quo of dueling groups of upper-middle class professional homeowners dueling over what aspect of davis to preserve.

    measure k was a fisaco, and a terrible decision, both in the city council and collectively in yesterday’s election, but i don’t get the sense of any actual guiding vision of this town’s future on either side. mike corbett and donna lott, both considered to be ‘moderates’ by today’s (skewed IMO) political benchmarks, had that sense back in the 60s and 70s. i fear that we have lost that, and have not really replaced it by anything worthwhile yet.

  23. i was on the other side of X, FWIW, but i expect that you are right that the narrow majority of davis voters were in favor of K because of the inexpensive and convenient shopping (and simply hadn’t thought of – or didn’t really care – the long-term impact on davis businesses).

    davis politics seems to be hopelessly conservative (not in the common political usage of the word, but positionally) in my mind, in the sense of being taken with the stylistic trappings of ‘progressvism’ but generally incapable of dreaming anything on par with the actual progressive dreams of the 1970s, which brought us the whole earth festival, farmer’s market, community clinic, davis food co-op, bike lanes and the like. the best we’ve gotten in the past decade or two is the expansion of central park, really. beyond that, nothing really all thaty much to speak of (who is honestly all that proud of working to oppose the richards blvd undercrossing? the pole line overcrossing?)

    what i would love to see, and what would require a great deal of honest and careful attempts to engage the community at large instead of just playing progressive martyr, is for progressives to take a long, hard look at what we want this town of ours to become, and then get to work creating that reality.

    both sides of davis politics, moderates and progressives alike, seem to be focused on defending a positionally conservative stance of preserving davis, instead of actually progressing forward topwards any sort of vision. does that make any sense?

    an actual living wage, better bus service around town and on weekends, downtown densification in a way that satisfies davis’ need for both more small local business and affordable housing, citywide composting, or whatever would all be preferable to the current status quo of dueling groups of upper-middle class professional homeowners dueling over what aspect of davis to preserve.

    measure k was a fisaco, and a terrible decision, both in the city council and collectively in yesterday’s election, but i don’t get the sense of any actual guiding vision of this town’s future on either side. mike corbett and donna lott, both considered to be ‘moderates’ by today’s (skewed IMO) political benchmarks, had that sense back in the 60s and 70s. i fear that we have lost that, and have not really replaced it by anything worthwhile yet.

  24. i was on the other side of X, FWIW, but i expect that you are right that the narrow majority of davis voters were in favor of K because of the inexpensive and convenient shopping (and simply hadn’t thought of – or didn’t really care – the long-term impact on davis businesses).

    davis politics seems to be hopelessly conservative (not in the common political usage of the word, but positionally) in my mind, in the sense of being taken with the stylistic trappings of ‘progressvism’ but generally incapable of dreaming anything on par with the actual progressive dreams of the 1970s, which brought us the whole earth festival, farmer’s market, community clinic, davis food co-op, bike lanes and the like. the best we’ve gotten in the past decade or two is the expansion of central park, really. beyond that, nothing really all thaty much to speak of (who is honestly all that proud of working to oppose the richards blvd undercrossing? the pole line overcrossing?)

    what i would love to see, and what would require a great deal of honest and careful attempts to engage the community at large instead of just playing progressive martyr, is for progressives to take a long, hard look at what we want this town of ours to become, and then get to work creating that reality.

    both sides of davis politics, moderates and progressives alike, seem to be focused on defending a positionally conservative stance of preserving davis, instead of actually progressing forward topwards any sort of vision. does that make any sense?

    an actual living wage, better bus service around town and on weekends, downtown densification in a way that satisfies davis’ need for both more small local business and affordable housing, citywide composting, or whatever would all be preferable to the current status quo of dueling groups of upper-middle class professional homeowners dueling over what aspect of davis to preserve.

    measure k was a fisaco, and a terrible decision, both in the city council and collectively in yesterday’s election, but i don’t get the sense of any actual guiding vision of this town’s future on either side. mike corbett and donna lott, both considered to be ‘moderates’ by today’s (skewed IMO) political benchmarks, had that sense back in the 60s and 70s. i fear that we have lost that, and have not really replaced it by anything worthwhile yet.

  25. You raise some interesting points wu ming. Of course, part of it, is that I feel like I’m playing defense half the time. But I thought the proposal for living wage was a very good progressive vision and something that I would like to pursue. I also think we have to deal with big festering problems of racism which are way below the surface but they played a huge role in what happened the last year with the police issue. But overall, I tend to agree, there is not really a huge vision.

  26. You raise some interesting points wu ming. Of course, part of it, is that I feel like I’m playing defense half the time. But I thought the proposal for living wage was a very good progressive vision and something that I would like to pursue. I also think we have to deal with big festering problems of racism which are way below the surface but they played a huge role in what happened the last year with the police issue. But overall, I tend to agree, there is not really a huge vision.

  27. You raise some interesting points wu ming. Of course, part of it, is that I feel like I’m playing defense half the time. But I thought the proposal for living wage was a very good progressive vision and something that I would like to pursue. I also think we have to deal with big festering problems of racism which are way below the surface but they played a huge role in what happened the last year with the police issue. But overall, I tend to agree, there is not really a huge vision.

  28. You raise some interesting points wu ming. Of course, part of it, is that I feel like I’m playing defense half the time. But I thought the proposal for living wage was a very good progressive vision and something that I would like to pursue. I also think we have to deal with big festering problems of racism which are way below the surface but they played a huge role in what happened the last year with the police issue. But overall, I tend to agree, there is not really a huge vision.

  29. Safe to say if No on K got 300 more votes, it would have won. Believe me if the tables were turned the Yes on K folks would not be considering this a mandate. They would be screaming for recounts.

  30. Safe to say if No on K got 300 more votes, it would have won. Believe me if the tables were turned the Yes on K folks would not be considering this a mandate. They would be screaming for recounts.

  31. Safe to say if No on K got 300 more votes, it would have won. Believe me if the tables were turned the Yes on K folks would not be considering this a mandate. They would be screaming for recounts.

  32. Safe to say if No on K got 300 more votes, it would have won. Believe me if the tables were turned the Yes on K folks would not be considering this a mandate. They would be screaming for recounts.

  33. Given that a major premise of the pro-Target campaign was that citizens of Davis were DEMANDING a Target store, the results do not bear that out: only 27% of registered voters in Davis voted for a Target. (The reverse comparison isn’t valid, because the burden of proof was on the pro-Target group, not the anti-Target group.) According to the American Heritage Dictionary, a mandate is “an authoritative command or instruction.” 27% is far from authoritative.