Presentation and talk before the PBE on April 18, 2012
[Note by Secretary: Dan Wolk drove all the way from his work place in Fairfield, Solano County to speak at this meeting. He also had a late night that went past midnight from the Davis City Council Meeting, the night before. With all of this, Dan Wolk still came to speak to the Davis Progressive Business Exchange. We all thank him for his valuable time.]
The first speaker was Dan Wolk. Dan is currently a sitting member of the Davis City Council. He was selected over two years ago to fill the vacancy left by Don Saylor at the end of December, 2010. Dan Wolk gave three reasons for running or election this June. Reason one: Dan Wolk has grown up in Davis and has seen and experienced the best that Davis has to offer its inhabitants and he wants to preserve this for the coming generations. Reason two: Dan feels that he can provide a new paradigm and new ideas to solve the problems that face the City of Davis. Reason three: Dan wants to continue the work of the current council.
Dan stated that he grew up in Davis and was in the Cub Scouts in the troop or Den with Judy Reynolds as his Den Mother. Dan attended Davis elementary, middle and junior high schools, graduating from Davis High School in 1995. Dan also participated in many of the activities children in Davis still participate in, including Rainbow Summer, AYSO, Camp Putah, Cub Scouts, Madrigals, Jazz Choir, and the Davis Children’s Nutcracker. Dan has seen the best that Davis has to give its children and will work to ensure the continuance of this legacy with his two daughters, who are 1 and 3 at this time. Dan's wife also grew up in Davis.
Dan stated that there are many things that are facing Davis today - many problems. The first that he addressed was the budget. Dan stated that the City of Davis faces massive, unfunded liabilities and structural, long-term budgetary challenges. Dan stated that he will work aggressively to ensure Davis' long-term fiscal sustainability in addressing the City’s future obligations, such as pensions and retiree health care. Yet, he does not want future pensions and retirement plans do not hinder the future of Davis. He stated that he will seek ways to restore sustainable revenues by continuing to encouraging new and innovative forms of economic development. When cuts are necessary, Dan will prioritize our future by preserving city funding for children’s programs wherever possible. He identified three important building blocks for the future of Davis: innovation, compromise, and change. "We must be ready for new ideas and shared burdens to make our City sustainable." To this end, Dan stated that we should look at new ideas, new leadership from even young interns. "The current solutions to a sustainable fiscal budget, may no longer work." He is willing to try new ideas, especially those that work in other communities.
Dan started out by quoting Mark Twain, "[in California] whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting." When it comes to water, Dan stated that he is not a fan of the current plan, because it is not affordable to the average citizen of Davis. Dan stated that the City of Davis currently relies on ground water for its needs. For the future of Davis, it needs to secure long term rights to surface water.
To illustrate the needs of the city that are being neglected, Dan brought up the Yolo County Courthouse. This aged structure is crumbling and an example of public infrastructure that is in need of repair. Just like the courthouse, our public roads, parks, green fields, buildings, etc are in need of maintenance. Even though our budget is balanced on paper, the City of Davis is neglecting to maintain public works. Dan is not afraid of having to cut funding to ensure that other programs important for the future of the children of Davis remain funded. Dan's number one priority is to ensure the quality of life for the children of Davis.
Davis at one time was the leader in term of environmental sustainability in the state. We were the first to build bike lanes and an infrastructure for riding bikes throughout the City of Davis. We had Village homes, which had all kinds of innovative ideas put into practice. We need to continue to develop new and put into place the next idea for a sustainable community. Dan gave examples of expanding residential solar power, community-wide waste reduction and composting program.
Dan next spoke about affordable housing and the demand for future housing in Davis. Dan stated that the demographic data are clear: our city is aging, and there are fewer young households. While there is no shortage of parents who want to move to Davis because of our safe and outstanding parks and schools, our existing housing stock is unaffordable and often not well suited to new families. No affordable housing for families means less funding for our schools and even school closures. At the same time, many aging householders who wish to retire and remain in Davis want smaller, more accessible housing. Dan wants to spearhead these issues and make attracting and serving young families and developing a “senior housing strategy” a top priority.
At this point, Bob Bockwinkel opened up questions. Jerry Kaneko stated that when he served on the Davis City Council on City of Davis Government Day, a young high school student, Dan Wolk, was elected Mayor of Davis by the Davis High School senior class. Dan then went on to graduate "sum cum laude" (with Honors) from Stanford University and from Boalt Hall Law School, making Law Review. Jerry Kaneko stated that he has seen great things from Dan Wolk and he expects more great things in the future from this young man.
For more about Dan Wolk, visit www.danwolk.org
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