After a narrow, hard-fought victory in the primary two years ago, former Napa County Supervisor Bill Dodd handily won the general election in the 4th Assembly District. But uncertainty prevails again as Dodd has decided to pursue the 3rd state Senate District seat left vacant by Lois Wolk, who has been term-limited out.
These races are important to local voters as both districts include a corner — on a map it looks more like a thumb — of Sonoma County around Rohnert Park, the Sonoma Valley and, at least for the Senate district, Petaluma.
Fortunately, voters have some experienced officials from whom to choose to fill these vacancies.
First, we recommend the election of Dodd to the state Senate. In his brief time in the Assembly, Dodd has shown himself to be an outspoken leader on a number of fronts, from providing relief for victims of the Valley fire last fall to protecting water rights and farm lands. Given his experience serving on the Metropolitan Transportation Commissions, Dodd has put his transit expertise to good use and has been a strong voice for education funding.
His main party opponent in this Democratic-leaning district is former Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, who served admirably in the Legislature from 2008 to 2014 and is a passionate advocate of social justice issues. But we believe Dodd, given the breadth of his understanding of Sonoma County and his moderate leanings on issues such as unfunded liabilities, is a better match for the district than the more progressive Yamada.
Meanwhile, the race to fill Dodd’s seat in the Assembly features five candidates seeking to represent a complex district that covers all or portions of six counties: Colusa, Lake, Napa, Yolo and parts of Solano and Sonoma.
The candidates that stand out are Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor, Winters Mayor Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and Davis Mayor Dan Wolk. Our top-two choices are Aguiar-Curry and Wolk.
If one of these names sounds familiar, it should. Dan Wolk is the son of state Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, which has certainly not hurt him in terms of building party support and name recognition. But Wolk, who lost in his bid for this seat two years ago, is running on his own political track record, given his service on the Davis City Council since 2011 and his work as deputy county counsel in Solano County. A specialist on water issues and matters of finance, Wolk has been a strong advocate of creating affordable housing and has been a leader in pushing Davis toward the creation of Sonoma Clean Power-like community choice aggregation plan that would allow locals to choose the source of their electricity.
Meanwhile, Aguiar-Curry, part-owner of an 80-acre walnut orchard, is a strong voice of compassion and reason for the rural residents of this vast district. She successfully lobbied PG&E to open a $75 million training facility in her community and has been a bold advocate for broadening education and housing opportunities in her town and in neighboring communities.
Saylor has been a faithful public servant for more than 40 years, having served on the local school board, the Davis City Council and on the Board of Supervisors. He speaks well of the need to “leave no one behind” in this economy and his low-key commitment to understanding issues and building consensus is a welcome break from the rancor that dominates today’s politics.