Spanning Yolo, Napa and Lake counties, plus parts of Sonoma, Solano and Colusa counties, the 4th Assembly District runs the gamut from urban to rural and from impoverished to affluent.
The district leans Democratic, and only one Republican is running this time to replace freshman Assemblyman Bill Dodd, a Democratic candidate for state Senate. However, whoever inherits the seat must be versatile, as familiar with Lake County poverty as with the housing crunch around UC Davis.
It’s a district well-suited to independent and practical voices, and the Assembly could use more of those.
It’s a very close call, but for the June primary, which will elevate the top two vote-getters onto the November ballot, our choices are Winters Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Davis Mayor Dan Wolk.
Both are fresh voices, well-grounded in the district, with a track record of no-drama consensus. We also like Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor – one of the better-known Democrats in the region with a 40-year résumé in public service – and recommend him as an alternative for voters who prefer a reliably liberal, pro-union, environmentally conscious representative.
But as reassured as we are by Saylor’s broad experience and contacts, the Legislature has lots of lawmakers who share his perspective. Aguiar-Curry, a family farmer and co-owner of an 80-acre walnut orchard, has a strong feel for the too-often-forgotten rural parts of the district and an approach that there’s too little of in the Legislature – pragmatic, results-oriented and female.
She has gotten a lot done in Winters, from senior housing to broadband. She helped bring in a $75 million PG&E facility and secure national monument status for Berryessa Snow Mountain. Her instinct is to lean toward basics – jobs, drivable roads, drinkable water.
Whoever inherits the seat must be versatile, as familiar with Lake County poverty as with the housing crunch around UC Davis. It’s also a district well-suited to independent and practical voices, and the Assembly could use more of those.
Wolk, the son of state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, is deputy county counsel in Solano County, specializing in water issues and public contracting and finance. He was a promising candidate two years ago when he ran for this seat, and is more seasoned now, having served on the Davis City Council since 2011.
He has been a steady hand in a community once known for fractious politics, helping to restore the city budget while gaining ground on much-needed infrastructure improvement. He has led a smart local push to bring “community choice energy” to Davis, providing greener electricity at a lower price for locals.
He bucked the beverage lobby to remove sugary drinks from kids’ menus in Davis, though he backed away from putting a soda tax on the city ballot when it appeared the controversy would complicate revenue raising. Endorsed by the teachers’ unions, he no doubt will be a solid vote for their powerful platform, but otherwise seems inclined to be an independent voice.
The other two candidates are Republican Charlie Schaupp, who ran in 2014 for this seat, and twice before that for Congress, and Mark Kropp, a Davis physician and biotech consultant who has served on the Yolo County grand jury.
Schaupp is a retired U.S. Marine reserve officer, a former member of the Esparto school board, fiscal conservative and a Donald Trump supporter. Kropp, a Democrat, has a varied résumé of volunteer work, and ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for Assembly in San Diego in 2000. His positions include opposition to the state’s new vaccine requirements.