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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rexroad Charges Racism in Woodland Vote

For those of you who believe that Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad is merely a right wing hack read on. Perhaps he is now auditioning for a sister blog--the People's Vanguard of Woodland which looks into the Dark Underbelly of Woodland.

I jest on this point but I was reminded as I read this of something that Rexroad told me last summer after he voted against peripheral growth in Davis--some in the Woodland Republican party dislike him because they think he's a liberal.

Anyway the impetus of the following blog was the election results in Woodland which featured a couple of candidates with Hispanic Surnames and who Matt Rexroad believed got fewer votes than they should have.

Here is his blog entry from Wednesday morning:
"Woodland has a great history of having minorities serve in public office. Personally, I am not a believer in the idea that a person should be in office only because of their race. That to me is discrimination.

Here is my problem with the election results from last night. I think race played a role in some of the results.

We all have different views of the candidates. That is fine. To each their own.

We had a couple races where there was a clear distinction in terms of the ability of the candidates to serve. No reasonable person could possibly look at the candidates and not make the clear choice. Yet, these side-show candidates got hundreds of votes.

It is a free country and anyone can run for office. I will never think otherwise. However, I have noticed over the years that when we have an exceptional candidate with a "different" sounding name (often times Latino) running against someone with an Anglo name and few credentials the Anglo candidate gets way more votes than would be expected.

We have some voters out there in Woodland that are discriminating against candidates based on their surname. Seems pretty clear to me.

We have a free country .... that sometime provides disappointing outcomes."
Woodland Daily Democrat Editor Jim Smith chimed in as well:
"I think Rexroad has a point, but I'll take it a step further. I think Woodlanders did what they always do when there are no issues of substance: Voted for an old-town family name and an "Anglo" name. I think voters did the right thing in returning Carol Souza Cole to the School Board. I also think they did the right thing in voting to put Rosario Ruiz-Dark on the board as well. Ruiz-Dark is a sharp, smart person. She's also a native Woodlander with a well-known name, and those who voted went for what was familiar.

Now, given a choice between two "newcomers" to Woodland, Evis Morales and Michael Blackwood, those few who went to the polls selected Blackwood over Morales. Rexroad endorsed Morales, so I can see why he thought Morales should have finished higher in the polls.

But Blackwood has an Anglo name and those who voted were most likely middle-aged and white, and were probably long-time local residents. So the voters went with whom they felt comfortable, people like themselves.

It's appalling our town would do this, but probably not surprising. "
In case people believe they misread Matt Rexroad's words, he reiterated his point yesterday morning:
"NEWS FLASH -- race is in the equation. I'm just pointing out what is true. I'm not advocating it. I'm making an observation about something I think is wrong in Woodland.

For those of you that can't read between the lines Cirenio should have gotten every vote but one -- that of his opponent. Further, there is no reason that Evis Morales should have done substantially worse than than Blackwood."
I do not know enough about Woodland to know if he is right or wrong on this one, I suspect that he is correct, however.

A bigger point to be made--love Matt Rexroad, hate Matt Rexroad, the guy is willing to go out there and speak his mind, even if it pisses off his base. Someone the other day posted from my thoughts about Rexroad a year ago, frankly, I could not have been more wrong about the guy. Do I agree with his politics most of the time? No. He is far more conservative than I am. On local issues, I probably agree with him more. I think he has been a good ally for Davis on the Board of Supervisors especially on growth issues. But more than that, I respect his willingness to go out there and speak his mind.

Frankly, I think this statement is going to hurt him politically with some in his base. I hope he has built up enough capital to get past it, but he stepped out on a pretty big limb here.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sights and Thoughts from Election Night

A few thoughts about the school board race. Back when the slate of candidates were finalized, I handicapped this race in the exact order that it ended up finishing. What that tells me is that the campaigns had very little impact on the final outcome. Rather it was all based on networks, contacts, and prior perceptions. The candidate who won did little to harm themselves and those who finished third and fourth did not do nearly enough to change the dynamics of the race when they entered.

That's kind of the bottom line. When you have a low profile race, and you are likely entering as the underdog, you need to radically change the dynamics and neither Bob Schelen nor Joe Spector were able to do this.

Some suggested that this was some sort of repudiation of the progressives, I do not see it that way. I think the city council is the venue where progressives assert themselves. A repudiation of progressives would be a continuation of the current council. That is a story to be written in June of 2008 not November of 2007.

An interesting observation came from Davis Columnist Bob Dunning last night:

"BY THE NUMBERS … no matter what the above percentages say about the candidates and their respective levels of support, a more accurate picture forms when you run the raw numbers that show Lovenburg received 6,806 votes of the 11,518 cast, which comes out to a mandate-like 59.1 percent … she was the only one of the four to be mentioned on more than half the ballots …"

That is a good way of looking at it that some times gets overlooked when you have two votes in a given election. On the other hand you have to wonder what her mandate is (granted he said mandate-like). I am not certain I really know what she was elected to do in terms that we generally think of as a mandate.

Susan Lovenburg did send us a statement after her victory:

"I’m pleased to have experienced broad-based support throughout the Davis community. I look forward to serving with Richard Harris, and with continuing Trustees Sheila Allen, Gina Daleiden, and Tim Taylor.

I acknowledge the efforts of Bob Schelen and Joe Spector during the campaign, and thank them for their willingness to serve our District.

I’d also like to thank Interim Superintendent Richard Whitmore for his efforts on our behalf, and enthusiastically welcome new superintendent, James Hammond. Together with a community that actively supports children and their education, we will meet the challenges that lie ahead."

My hope is in the coming weeks to do full stories on Susan Lovenburg, Richard Harris, and James Hammond, the new superintendent who was sworn in last night.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Measures Q and P Pass Easily After Some Early Worry

I have to admit it, when I saw the absentee numbers, I knew immediately that the school board race was effectively over. However, I was also a little bit concerned about both Measures P and Q. Measure P, the library tax was narrowly over the two-thirds vote number, however Measure Q was four votes under the two-thirds vote mark. Which way would the same-day vote take us?

The first possibility was that the votes at the polling place would simply mirror those of the absentee. A second possibility is that those who voted absentee are the always voters who are most likely to support schools and libraries. The final possiblity is that the voters on election day are more liberal than those who vote absentee.

The people at the County Election Office suggested that while absentee votes have moved closer to the average, they still tend to be more conservative and less supportive of tax measures. This turned out to be the right analysis. And slowly as the tallies came in, Measures P and Q pulled away. They ended up getting 79% of the vote on Election Day compared to just 66.6 to 66.7% of the absentee vote that arrived before election day.

During the last few months, we laid out the importance of these tax measures. Without Measure P, the library would have had to severely cut back on its hours and services. Without Measure Q, schools would have seen a lot of the key programs cut.

Some have suggested that we needed to send a message to the school district about a variety of issues. I tend to agree that there are a variety of issues that the new school board and the new superintendent need to address. However, this was not the way to do it. A no vote, would not have led to a reassessment and addressing of issues, it would have been met with widespread cuts, layoffs, and mass panic. Not the atmosphere to achieve the delicate reform that some wanted.

The Vanguard spoke to Board Members Sheila Allen and Gina Daleiden who were the coordinators for Measure Q.

Sheila Allen told us:
"I am extremely pleased that the community of Davis has once again come together to support our schools and children. When the task of the Parcel Tax renewal was given to Gina and I we decided to take a very different tact than previous campaigns. The prior strategy has always been a "stealth" campaign: keeping below the radar, talking only to parents and supports, no lawn signs or public campaign, etc. This is not the way Gina and I and the current board do business. We wanted to communicate to the community what it is they pay for with their parcel tax dollars and what they get in return. We were very pleased that an informed (although low turn out) agreed that Davis students need to continue to have the programs that Measure Q pays for in the classroom."
Gina Daleiden said:
"I am heartened by the confirmation that the vast majority of people in Davis hold children and education as a top priority.

From the very beginning of the campaign, our biggest concerns were the economy and complacency. When headlines screamed of a weak economy, higher fuel prices, foreclosures, we knew we had to work harder. And we had to get the word out about what the tax actually funds---many of the critical programs that we all have come to expect as Davis Joint Unified. We had an amazing all-volunteer effort on this campaign---a broad coalition of people united in support of our schools.

We did have a little drama as we watched the early returns. While polling and phone banking and walking can show 78 or 80% support, that only translates into real votes if people turn out at the polls. In a very low turnout election like the one last night, the "no" votes will show up and the "yes" votes you need to dilute those don't materialize to the extent you would like in a tax election. All that said, nearly 73% is a reminder that education is a priority in Davis, even for those without students in the schools. In the end, this is about our kids and our classroom programs across the entire District. Our kids are the winner in this election."
In the meantime, the Measure P folks finally were able to pass their parcel tax to improve and maintain the library.

On Election night County Supervisor Helen Thomson told us:
"I'm glad to see the community cares about schools and libraries."
County Supervisor Mariko Yamada added,
"I'm glad we minded our Ps and Qs!"
We also spoke yesterday to campaign manager of the Measure P effort, Rich Peterson:
"We are absolutely delighted at the outcome of the election. Once again, Davis has shown itself to be a truly giving and caring community. On behalf of Supervisors Thomson and Yamada, I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to help Measure P pass, in particular Jay Johnstone, the Friends of the Davis Library led by Erik Vink, and Sandy Briggs - who walked precincts with a broken collar bone!! We truly are indebted to the hard work of countless dedicated individuals, named and unnamed. Above all else, we would like to thank the Davis voters."
This election is just the first of four elections in the next 365 days. We will talk more about the school board races in upcoming installments.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Lovenburg, Harris, Measures Q and P win amid low turnout

On an evening when the school board races were all but decided during absentee voting and the ballot measures decided shortly thereafter, the story of the day was the extremely low turnout. While the final figures are perhaps a few days away from being made official, it appears certain that turnout did not top 30 percent.

This was not a tremendous surprise given the relatively low interest that the school board election seemed to draw on this blog and throughout the community.

In the end, the results were pretty much as expected. Susan Lovenburg finished first, Richard Harris finished a comfortable, but relatively close second to Lovenburg. There was a considerable gap to the third place finish of Bob Schelen who was narrowly above Joe Spector.

In the low turnout, the establishment and relatively better known candidates won.

At first the ballot measures looked to be in doubt with Measure P drawing a very narrow margin above the two-thirds needed and Measure Q falling four votes shy of the two-thirds needed. But as the precincts themselves came in, both Measure P and Measure Q passed by comfortable margins with P garnering over 73% and Q just under 73%.

Both Measures won just under 80% of the vote that was cast on election day. So while the absentees mirrored the results of the school board election, there was a sizable gap between the results of the ballot measures. The folks at the election office felt that was somewhat typical, with the gap closing in recent years between absentee and non-absentee voters, nevertheless, absentee voters still tend to be more conservative and less supportive of tax measures.

The Vanguard will have some interviews and postmortems with the winning school board candidates. We are quite pleased that both parcel tax measures passed, the money was badly needed by both the library and the schools. Stay tuned for much more coverage.

----Doug Paul Davis reporting

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Live From the Elections Office

Polls are closing at 8 PM, I'm seated deep in the heart of the County Elections Office and we'll have our first results in less than 10 minutes. Stay tuned to the Vanguard for Live Updates and Interviews.

Freddie Oakley is telling me the turnout is very low.

Absentees show an early commanding lead by Lovenburg with 38.55 and Harris 31.9%, Schelen third with 15,71, Spector with 13.8.

Measure P with 67.17 and Measure Q with 66.63%, both right on the bubble, it looks like a nailbiter for the parcel tax.

The word seems to be that the early lead should hold, Lovenburg already with almost 3500 votes and a 2000 vote lead over the third place finisher.

Absentees in Davis may top ballot votes.

Calm and quiet here, the ballots from precincts have not arrived as of yet. Just going over procedures before things get hot and heavy.

Our reporters are out in Davis tonight...

From Spector's party at the graduate:

Julie Cuetara - "I'm very sad about the two top candidates and very worried about the what the district is going to be like."
Others have said, "We're holding on to our towels...we're not ready to throw them in just yet..."
Dweezel's wondering about her votes. She heard she was a write in.

Joe Spector: "I'm very excited that many people have voted to support me and the issues that I have advocated for. In particular, it is my belief that I have gotten solid support from the Valley Oak community. In about 1/2 an hour I will be going to DCTV along with everybody's favorite Valley Oak representative (Dweezel)."

Another attendee, "We're high on optimism..."

One of the officials think P and Q will pull it out

Ballots are starting to be counted

Measure S is 51-49, that is West Sacramento's School bond. It needs 55% to pass. Desperately need the money there.

Back to the field:

Harris Camp at Sudwerk's in a cheery atmosphere in a dinner party way. Richard Harris: "We'll wait and see what happens. We're hopeful."

Stuff here from Woodland but not Davis so far. Davis stuff is usually last. They have to consolidate on sight and match their take with their records. Then bring it up here, so that takes some time and it tends to be larger than other parts of the county.

Davis ballots just now coming into the building. Woodland is 80 percent done.

Precincts in Woodland reporting at less than 10 percent turnout--holy cow. Maybe Freddie was not kidding when she said 18%.

Reports from Schelen's party:

One supporter: "Early returns are always a heartbreak. Stay tuned."

Bob Schelen: "It's been 7 out of 39 precints in the first two hours. There are still many more precints to report. We'll hang tight all night. We may not know the final results until the morning, but at least we can trust that every vote will be counted thanks to Freddie Oakley."

Maybe Woodland should consider changing their election dates--5% turnout average. One polling place two votes. Matt Rexroad will have to weigh in on this one...

They are talking maybe 22% in Davis. I have faith, I said 30%.

Look for some Davis precincts coming up in the next batch. Looking through the numbers--a lot of undervotes or bullet votes amongst the absentees. About 13 Davis precincts in the next batch

Freddie gave me numbers for woodland--5.48%, 2.68%, 4.1%, etc. Wow.

They are actually sitting waiting for ballots here, they have so few ballots in the precincts. 30 precincts reporting, barely over 2000 votes in them.

Possibly more absentees than votes, that would be a first time ever if it happens. This might be an historic night--in a bad way.

Lots of hardware failures tonight at the election office, fortunately it doesn't matter tonight.

19 from Davis here.

P & Q now both at 69 percent.

Candidates are unchanged.

Lovenburg with 4340, Harris 3525, Schelen 1849 and Spector 1572 with 20 of 39 reporting

Wow some amazing figures. 9 people on Olive Drive voted. 6 people at the Coffee House. 17 a the other student precinct.

So far turnout with half reporting is 18.85 percent in Davis, that figure will go up, not sure by how much.

So we're expecting another report around 11 pm and a final report at 11:30 PM. Blogger is supposedly down at 11 PM for ten minutes, but we'll see.

Back online, P and Q now up over 70 percent with two-thirds precincts reporting.

Officially calling it for the school board races, Susan Lovenburg and Richard Harris are the winners there.

Looks like they are celebrating at the P and Q party:

Helen Thomson: "Exciting! I'm glad to see the community cares about schools and libraries.

Mariko Yamada: "I'm glad we minded our Ps and Qs!"

Ballots are all in, final tallies are pending.

Final vote in Woodland--10.5% turnout.

Total Davis turnout 22.39%

All precincts are in

72.9 YES ON Q
73% Measure P
6806 Lovenburg 38.47%
5412 Harris 30.59
3066 Schelen 17.33%
2406 Spector 13.6%

That's all for tonight.

P and Q win easily, Lovenburg and Harris do as well.

Schelen second in the Valley Oak are fwiw

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Disjointed Thoughts on Election Morning

Today is Election Day. The projections for voter turnout according to Clerk and Recorder Freddie Oakley are rather bleak. Frankly that's not all that surprising, but it is disappointing. We have four elections in the next 365 or so days, each of them has its own inherent importance.

I know many in Davis live for the city council elections--and I agree that those are extremely important. But the school board elections and parcel tax elections are of the utmost importance as well. At times on this blog, we have spent as much time discussing school board issues as we have City Council issues. To the point that there has been a running joke between the two as to which one can stay off the Vanguard. Then acting police chief Steve Pierce was going to send Interim Superintendent Richard Whitmore a fruitcake for helping to keep the police off the Vanguard and focus the attention on the school district (I'm not making that up).

My point here is that school issues at times have dominated the scene in Davis over the first year and a quarter of the Vanguard's existence.

For those with little interest in the school board, we can skip ahead a bit. I noticed that the Final EIR has come down on the Hunt-Boyer Mansion Tank House restoration and relocation project. The city staff is going to recommend the pursuit of Alternative 3--disassembling, reassembling, and then rehabilitating the Tank House while at the same time constructing a new two-story building between the Mansion and the Varsity Theatre.

Guinness will then be called in to assess whether this new building qualifies as the thinnest building in the world. I jest, but that is not a large space between the two.

This issue will be the on the city council agenda at the end of the month. It figures to be a long and heated discussion on the historic nature of the tank house and the site versus the potential for commercial usage there.

However, tonight, the issue is on children and who is best to lead our school district for the next four years in helping to determine policy direction. Honestly, we all have our favorites perhaps. But I am far from certain that we can go wrong no matter who is elected. I have covered numerous events and all the candidates seemed committed to improving the educational prospects of Davis students. That's not to say we agree with everything everyone is proposing, it is only to say there is not a single candidate who lacks the commitment to this school district.

Perhaps as important, we have two ballot measures that would fund a good percentage of our school's budget (Measure Q) and help maintain the library (Measure P).

One point of interest, a lot has been made of Richard Harris and the amount of money he has raised--I'm kind of wondering exactly what he spent it on. There were no ads that we saw in Sunday's Davis Enterprise. We got a mailer or two but certainly nothing massive. So far all the fuss about influence peddling, I just do not see it.

Valley Oak Charter will go forward with more than enough signatures to qualify it for consideration As I said last week, I think the Best Uses of Schools Task Force missed the boat here, focused too early on closing a school and not hard enough on alternatives to closing a school. Now the district will likely have to go back to the drawing board. Did the task force really serve the school district well?

Finally, a hearty farewell to Interim Superintendent Richard Whitmore. Did I agree with everything he did? No. But he was thrust into a difficult situation, his first meeting as Interim Superintendent was when they voted to close Valley Oak. He faced tough challenges in his brief time here. But he was always available to me to answer questions and he was a person who understood the importance of high tech and tried to get many others (at times unsuccessfully) to read the Vanguard as a means to better understand the community. So we will certainly miss him and wish him well on his future endeavors while at the same time looking forward to the new leadership under James Hammond.

So there is much to do and think about in the coming days, but once again today is about the children and who we believe is best to lead them into the future. Stay tuned this evening for live blogging election coverage. We'll have roaming bands of reporters from around the town and I will be blogging live at the Yolo County Election Office.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sights from the School Board Races

The Vanguard went around to the all of the community events and parties. Here are a collection of pictures from each of the school board candidates and then a collection from other events.

Susan Lovenburg at the home of Ruth Asmundson on September 8, 2007:

Richard Harris at the home of Jay Ziegler on September 28, 2007:

Bob Schelen at the Odd Fellows Hall October 7, 2007 (running an old fashioned "straw hat" campaign):

Joe Spector at his home, November 5, 2007:

And here is a who potpourri of photos from around the community...

---Doug Paul Davis reporting