Sacramento Bee Endorses “New Political Dynamic in Davis”–Sue Greenwald, Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald, and Don Saylor

In a stunning surprise, the Sacramento Bee yesterday endorsed a “New Political Dynamic in Davis.” Actually since they endorsed two incumbents–Don Saylor and Sue Greenwald, the only new political dynamic they endorsed is Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald (my wife but no relation to Sue). But if those three were to win, that would mark a new council majority.

For me this comes just over a week after both criticizing the Sacramento Bee for their lack of coverage, their lack of understanding of Davis politics, questioning whether they should even be making an endorsement in this race.

I was both correct and it turns out incorrect in my read on the Sacramento Bee. I figured that the Sacramento Bee would support the pro-growth elements in the race and look little beyond that.

The Sacramento Bee does indeed support pro-growth policies as they acknowledge in their editorial:

“While we remain in agreement with the pro-growth candidates on issues of housing and development, the public in Davis has made its views clear.”

At the same time, they seem surprisingly conciliatory to the community having a say in its own land use policies, which is a striking departure for a paper that thought the idea that Davis would vote Covell Village and Target was ludicrous.

Instead, the Bee looks past those issues and towards on big issue: the firefighters.

“Meanwhile, other important issues have emerged: city finances and the influence of public employee unions, and race relations and the police department.”

The Bee has seen the damage to city finances that out of control wages and pensions to city employees can do.

They continue:

“Davis firefighters are among the top campaign contributors to pro-growth candidates, a dangerous sign. The firefighters’ contract expires next year. Given the current housing slump and the lack of a retail base in Davis to generate sales taxes, it is important that this city hold the line in the next round of bargaining.”

The firefighters–their wages and their attempt to influence the outcome of the election–become the top issue for the Bee rather than development.

I remain no less surprised today than I did yesterday.

They claim they narrowly chose Don Saylor over Stephen Souza:

“Of the three pro-growth candidates on the ballot, we narrowly chose Saylor over Souza. Souza is hard working but has a testy personality that has contributed to the incivility at council meetings. Saylor is more steady and has wider experience.”

Finally they encourage the slow-growth candidates to follow through on their promise for infill development:

“The slow-growth candidates we’ve endorsed all say they are committed to infill development. It is essential that they follow through on that commitment. Davis is a city that has priced out its working-class citizens. Whoever is elected must make a better commitment to build affordable housing for people who work in Davis.”

Given the Bee’s views on Davis and Davis’ growth policy this was a huge surprise. But the firefighters involvement in this race has really changed the dynamics here.

Full text of the endorsement:

This year, as in previous Davis City Council elections, growth and housing (or the lack of both) are major issues.

The city had a showdown on growth with its 2005 vote on Covell Village, a proposed housing development, which this page supported as did four of five members of the City Council. Despite that support, the citizens of Davis rejected Covell Village.

This election pits moderate pro-growth candidates who supported Covell Village against slow-growth candidates who did not.

On the pro-growth side are incumbents Don Saylor and Stephen Souza, and challenger Sydney Vergis. On the slow-growth side are Davis Mayor Sue Greenwald and challengers Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald (no relation to the mayor) and Rob Roy.

While we remain in agreement with the pro-growth candidates on issues of housing and development, the public in Davis has made its views clear. Meanwhile, other important issues have emerged: city finances and the influence of public employee unions, and race relations and the police department. On the basis of their positions on those issues, we endorse Cecilia Escamilla-Greenwald and Sue Greenwald.

A UC Davis graduate and longtime student and city activist, Escamilla-Greenwald is the former head of the Davis Human Relations Commission. In that capacity she was instrumental in exposing legitimate concerns from African American and Latino residents of a strong perception of police bias. Her efforts led to the resignation of the city’s former police chief and the hiring of an ombudsman to handle citizen complaints. Even though she is a labor representative in her professional life, Escamilla-Greenwald has been forthright in her concerns about the generous pay raises and retirement benefits given to Davis firefighters that threaten city finances.

Greenwald was also a strong supporter of police reform. As a member of the council she has been a forceful and vocal opponent of overly generous firefighter pay raises and retirement benefits. As a result she has not gotten the firefighters union endorsement or their contributions.

Davis firefighters are among the top campaign contributors to pro-growth candidates, a dangerous sign. The firefighters’ contract expires next year. Given the current housing slump and the lack of a retail base in Davis to generate sales taxes, it is important that this city hold the line in the next round of bargaining. Greenwald can be counted on to resist union pressure.

Roy declined to sit for an endorsement interview with The Bee, so we have no way to evaluate his qualifications.

Of the three pro-growth candidates on the ballot, we narrowly chose Saylor over Souza. Souza is hard working but has a testy personality that has contributed to the incivility at council meetings. Saylor is more steady and has wider experience.

The slow-growth candidates we’ve endorsed all say they are committed to infill development. It is essential that they follow through on that commitment. Davis is a city that has priced out its working-class citizens. Whoever is elected must make a better commitment to build affordable housing for people who work in Davis.

—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

220 comments