12 Days of Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis; Day 10 - New Mayor Plays Wile E. Coyote to Colleague's Roadrunner

December 5, 2016 |

In nine days from today, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis will leave office. In honor of his last 12 days in office, we will take a look back at some of the most memorable aspects of Davis' tenure.     

In nine days from today, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis will leave office. In honor of his last 12 days in office, we will take a look back at some of the most memorable aspects of Davis' tenure.     

In 2012 Gary Davis earned the distinction of becoming Elk Grove's first directly elected Mayor. Before that, the position had been rotated among the five City Council members on an annual basis.

In Elk Grove's form of weak-mayor government, the Mayor's position continues to be one vote. Regardless, the position does have more prestige, greater visibility, and some additional administrative authority.

Not long after Davis was sworn-in, his influence, authority, and most importantly courage, was put to an immediate test by his colleagues and he failed with a whimper. Davis was outsmarted by one of his city council colleagues and left the fight like Wile E. Coyote after an encounter with the Roadrunner. 

The test we are referring to of course was the appointment process to fill the District 4 City Council seat Davis vacated upon his election as Mayor.

Once Davis was elected Mayor, he left the District 4 seat on the Council, which was halfway through its four-year term. Davis and the City Council could hold a special election for the remaining two years, or they could appoint someone.

Citing the estimated half-million dollar price of a special election, the four councilmen agreed to an appointment. That is where things started to unravel for Davis.

On one side was Davis and fellow Democrat, current California Assemblymember Jim Cooper. On the other side were the council's two Republicans, Steve Detrick, and Pat Hume.

Davis and Cooper wanted Democrat and then Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Nancy Chaires Espinoza. Detrick and Hume wanted anyone but Chaires Espinoza.

After placing Chaires Espinoza and several other individuals' names into nomination, the council was deadlocked. At that point, Cooper, who was actively advocating for Chaires Espinoza and showed no signs of backing down, as well as Detrick and Hume, were willing to put the matter to the voters.

As the process bogged down, sensing Davis' floundering support of Chaires Espinoza and his fear of calling for a special election lest it hurt his 2014 Mayoral prospects, Hume moved in for the kill. And did he kill.

Along with old line Elk Grove Republicans, most notably Elk Grove Citizen publisher Roy Herburger, Hume "offered" an 11th-hour solution to the dilemma. If the council was not able to break the impasse, and they agreed the cost of the special election was unacceptable, why not appoint someone who promised to be a placeholder of the seat?

That person was former Elk Grove Unified School District Superintendent Bob Trigg. In his advocacy for his fellow Republican Trigg, Hume said the retired educator would promise to hold the seat until 2014 and would not seek a four-year term.

Hume, who already had Detrick's support, just needed one more vote. Cooper, who in no uncertain terms said he would either have Chaires Espinoza or would be willing to go to a special election, was out of the question, so Davis became Hume's mark.

Davis, fearful of being tagged with the cost of the special election, was trapped by Hume. Not surprisingly Cooper was angry with Davis' acquiescence to Hume, and reportedly, this was the start of the Mayor's steady decline within Sacramento County Democratic Party politics. 

By caving Davis was outmaneuvered by a more cunning and tactical Hume and suffered the first major failure of his tenure. The episode was demonstrative of Davis' lack of courage and unwillingness to stick his neck out for anything or anyone unless it was for his personal benefit.

In the end, Davis has been Wile E. Coyote to Hume's Roadrunner -  Beep Beep! 

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