Fresh faces, close races

Increase in registered voters attributed to California’s new pre-registration law

A pair of first-time political candidates in Yolo County are turning to UC Davis students for support.

On May 21, Eric Gudz, who is running for one of two available Davis City Council seats, and public defender Dean Johansson, who is taking on Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig, joined Democratic gubernatorial candidate Delaine Eastin and U.S. Senate candidate Kevin de León for a student voting rally at UC Davis.

“Less than 25 percent of the people in our [student] community vote locally,” Gudz said at the rally. “I know we can do better.”

At 31, Gudz, a UC Davis alumnus, is the youngest of nine candidates running for Davis City Council and would become the youngest member if elected. Neil Ruud, Gudz’ 27-year-old campaign manager, thinks UCD students have mobilized behind Gudz because he’s one of them.

“Eric’s message is resonating with the young community because, one, he is fighting for workers, students and teachers with direct action,” Ruud said. “And two, he’s a renter, he lives month to month and he knows the price of milk.”

DA candidate Johansson is calling for increased transparency in law enforcement and education instead of incarceration. He recalled last year’s UC Davis Picnic Day, in which five minority individuals were arrested and charged after fighting with plainclothes police officers.

“There is something wrong with a system that would charge five people of color, just a short distance away from here on Picnic Day, for basically being on the receiving end of police brutality,” Johansson told the crowd.

According to the Secretary of State’s 60-Day Voter Registration Report, nearly 17 percent of registered voters in Yolo County are 25 and under. That’s almost 2 percent higher than in 2016, which is partly attributed to California’s new pre-registration law, which allows 16- and 17-year-olds to register prior to turning 18. As of April 6, over 100,000 teens have pre-registered in California.