Newcomer Will Arnold will join incumbents Brett Lee and Lucas Frerichs on the Davis City Council after the three won at-large seats in Tuesday’s election.
Born and raised in Davis, Arnold works in state Sen. Lois Wolk’s office and has served on a number of local nonprofit boards. Arnold, 37, ran campaigns for two current council members and was the campaign manager for the special election in 2013 that approved Davis’ participation in the Woodland-Davis surface water project.
The city was assured of having at least one new councilman after Mayor Dan Wolk opted to run for a state Assembly seat rather than seek re-election in Davis. Dan Wolk, Lois Wolk’s son, lost his Assembly bid Tuesday, leaving him without an elected office.
Lee, 51, topped the four-way race with 31 percent of the votes. Frerichs finished second with 26.4 percent, narrowly outpacing Arnold, who had 26.2 percent. Matt Williams Jr. finished fourth with 16.5 percent, trailing his three opponents in all city precincts, based on Yolo Elections Office returns posted Wednesday.
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Current Mayor Pro Tem Robb Davis, who won the most votes in 2014, will become the city’s new mayor. By winning the most votes Tuesday, Lee will become mayor pro tem this year and then mayor in 2018.
Arnold said his first priorities are increasing investment in the city’s infrastructure, diversifying the city’s economic portfolio and updating the general plan, which expired in 2010.
“The issues were coming to a head in town,” he said. “This seemed like an opportune time to throw my hat in the ring.”
He said he’s excited to join a group of council members who respect each other.
“(The candidates ) are all serious people who don’t agree on everything, certainly, but treat each other with respect,” he said. “And that is not always the case.”
Frerichs, 36, said his first priority is to make sure the council sees through projects like the surface water project and the city’s new wastewater treatment plant. Like Arnold, he wants to continue investment in public works by repaving roads and fixing potholes, while being mindful of the city’s budget.
“I think folks in Davis are pretty supportive of the direction the City Council has been headed,” Frerichs said. “Getting re-elected with a good amount of votes is a pretty strong affirmation of the work we’ve been doing.”
Voters overwhelmingly approved two revenue measures Tuesday – Measure B, which would increase the Transient Occupancy Tax from 10 percent to 12 percent and generate an estimated $240,000 more annually; and Measure C, which would impose a 10 percent tax on annual gross receipts on recreational marijuana businesses if they become legal in the state and city. The City Council backed both proposals.
But Frerichs said he was disappointed that voters appear to have rejected the Nishi Gateway project, a 46-acre business and housing development planned for farmland along Interstate 80. It was a close call, with 51 percent of voters saying no. However, a number of provisional and drop-off ballots remain to be counted.
Nishi would have created hundreds of new residential units in a city with a housing shortage. Frerichs said the city has a zero vacancy rate. He said he’ll continue to be a strong supporter of building affordable housing in Davis.
The housing squeeze became a central issue for the fourth candidate, Williams. He said when he began his campaign, he viewed Davis’ unfunded liabilities as the biggest issue at stake, but he quickly saw that the housing situation was even more challenging.
Williams, 68, will continue to serve on the city’s Finance and Budget Commission and said he is committed to working collaboratively with the council.
Davis has a five-member council elected at large by city residents. Council members Davis and Rochelle Swanson will be up for re-election in 2018.