The dynamic in the 4th Assembly District, traditionally a seat held by a Davis Democrat, has changed dramatically. Between redistricting and the top-two primary, the race to replace termed-out Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, a Davis Democrat, is wide open.
Napa County now is in the 4th District, and Davis no longer may have a stranglehold on the seat. Yolo County has 32 percent of the registered voters; Napa County has 29 percent. Lake County and parts of Sonoma, Solano and Colusa counties also are in the district.
In the June primary, we recommend Davis Mayor Joe Krovoza, a Democrat, and Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd, a former Republican who became a Democrat in 2012.
Krovoza would hit the ground running as a leader in the Assembly on land-use planning and community development, as well as on vexing environmental issues from climate change to water. He has worked for 17 years developing clean transportation and energy-efficient projects at UC Davis. As a supporter of high-speed rail, Krovoza has good ideas for feeder systems and placement of stations.
Krovoza led negotiations for the historic Putah Creek Accord in 2000 that established water flows that restored the creek’s historic salmon run.
In his tenure on the Davis City Council and as mayor, he helped lead the city through a difficult period of $11 million in spending cuts, restructuring of city labor contracts including changes in employee benefits, and dramatic reductions in fire service costs by launching a partnership with UC Davis. He also has been a proponent of shared services through public-private partnerships. He would bring that eye for fiscal stability to the Legislature.
We have disagreed with Krovoza on some matters. After negotiating a good deal on the 100-acre Cannery Park proposal for 456 housing units and commercial development, Krovoza was one of two no votes on the project. He pushed the envelope to get additional assurances from the developer on bike connectivity at the southwest corner. When he didn’t get his way, he voted against a good project. Some would call this tenacity; others would call it bullheadedness.
A four-term supervisor from Napa County, Dodd owned Culligan Water franchises in four North Bay counties, turning to public service after he sold the company. He refers to himself as a “transportation geek” who has spent years working on Bay Area long-range transportation planning. He is well-informed on sprawl, traffic gridlock, transit services and public-private partnerships. He championed a road tax in Napa County.
Dodd’s most intriguing feature is his party switch. Republican activists denounce him for opportunism; Democrats don’t quite trust him. Dodd shrugs that off, saying that his values had been Democratic for more than a decade – from immigration reform on the national level to support for a drug and rehabilitation center at the local level. He says the tipping point in his decision to switch parties was the debate over gay marriage and marriage equality.
He believes he can be “part of a new wave of leadership to change the political climate” in California. “Moderates can make a difference.”
Two other strong candidates are in the race.
Dan Wolk is a water and public finance attorney for Solano County, a Davis city councilman and son of Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis. He would make education his top priority. Although Wolk has shown himself to be open-minded and has worked to bring people together in his three years on the council, he speaks in generalities on legislative issues.
Charlie Schaupp, well-known in Republican circles for two congressional primary runs in the 1990s, is a fourth-generation member of a Yolo County farming family, a retired Marine reserve officer who served in the Persian Gulf War and a former Esparto school board member. He has an appealing anti-corruption, ethics message.
Dustin Call, a legislative aide for Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, and a part-time UC Davis student, did not interview with the editorial board.
We recommend Krovoza and Dodd.