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Gratitude: A Retirement Shindig for the Ages

On November 9, 2022, an Invisible Council of Planners, not known to me in full until that date, threw a retirement shindig for the ages. My family and I were deeply moved by the outpouring of friendship, sense of shared community and so many kindnesses at that event. There is so much to be thankful for and so many to thank for this event and for shared service over the past 27 years.

Thanks especially to Tara Thronson and Sara Simmons for their many labors for this event and for so much more. They have never flagged in their commitment to the people and places of Yolo County. During the two years of the COVID-19 pandemic they worked even harder to stay connected and responsive. They were joined in making this event possible by Autumn Labbe-Renault, Lucas and Stacie Frerichs, Emily Henderson, and Diane Parro.

I am deeply grateful for the kind remarks shared at the event by Congressmen John Garamendi and Mike Thompson, Former Yolo County Supervisor Helen Thomson, Davis Mayor and Supervisor-elect Lucas Frerichs, Former Yolo County Administrator Pat Blacklock, Acme Theatre Company Artistic Director Emily Henderson, long-time friend Bob Segar, and my son, Aaron Saylor. Tara Thronson did a fantastic job as the MC for the program. When they were finished, I really wanted to meet the guy they had been describing!

Thanks to the Davis High School String Quartet and our friends in the band, Wealth of Nations, with guest, Barry “The Fish” Melton, for providing the Grateful Dead soundtrack for this event. I love our local Yolo music scene.

Thanks to all who provided food and drink. Please take note of the wonderful restaurants, bakery, wineries and brewery who pitched in to make this night enjoyable. Thanks to Dos Coyotes, Nugget Markets, Hooked on Paella, Hikari Sushi and Omakase, Upper Crust, Sudwerks, Turkovich Family Winery, Alan Wei, and Silt Winery. Thanks to the Davis Firefighters for always keeping us safe and grilling the tri-tip sliders for the gathering.

Thanks to our friends who always step up to hang the lights, unfold the table clothes, pour the drinks, serve the food, and clean up after the party. We have done this together for quite a while now for so many good causes.

In a few weeks, I will conclude not just my Yolo County service, but also wrap up a 27-year commitment to local elected office and more than 45 years of combined public service.

I estimate that I have attended about 800 regular and special meetings of the School Board, City Council, and Board of Supervisors since 1995. That doesn’t count the meetings of subcommittees and regional boards and other staff and community meetings.

Often people considering running for election to a local body ask me about the time commitment required to be on a School Board, City Council, or Board of Supervisors. How much time does it take? My answer is ALL OF IT!

Thanks to the whole District 2 staff team over the past 12 years: Diane Parro, Emily Henderson, Arielle Brown, Steve Rea, Adelle Markey, Jessica Jones, Sara Simmons, and Tara Thronson. Together these are the most dedicated, competent, effective, and compassionate people I have ever known. Saying thanks is not enough to express my gratitude to you all for making our shared service work and for everything each of you has done for our people. It has been a true joy to get to know you as family over the years.

Thanks to the 23 people I served with as colleagues over the years on the Davis School Board, Davis City Council, and Yolo County Board of Supervisors. Thanks to the hundreds of people who served with me on all the boards, commissions, committees, and task forces at school sites and community, regional, and state bodies. We agreed on many things and worked through others. Many of my elected colleagues from around the county and region took the time to join us. Thank you. I have learned from each of you and deeply appreciate each of your commitment to our communities.

Thanks to the professional staff of Yolo County, the City of Davis, the Davis School Board and all the public agencies I have worked with. I am deeply moved by the dedication of the talented people who have found their calling in public service. Everything we do in local office depends upon the work of these good folks.

Over the years, I have been touched so often to learn of the vision, hopes, struggles, joys, and the selflessness of the people of our community. I am so grateful to the communities of Davis, Winters, and Yolo County for your confidence, trust, countless friendships, and shared service.

You all have given me the gift of responsibility and service. I have sought to think beyond any tenure I have been given and to act beyond the limits of any assigned roles in service to our shared community. The threads of my focus have been constant. It has always been about people and planet, food security, transportation infrastructure, climate action, mental health support, children and youth, improved access to needed services and opportunity, and a more just and equitable society. Together we have made many strides.

There are many unfinished projects and challenges to meet. I am so pleased that Lucas Frerichs will move into the County Supervisor office and keep the fires lit. Lucas, I look forward to watching you and promise to not show up for public comment during the first six months of 2023.

Thanks to everyone who supported our Soup’s On events and participated in our rallies and forums and various causes. Together, we have tended the fabric of community and made a difference over and over.

Thanks to everyone who stuffed envelopes, walked neighborhoods, wrote letters, displayed yard signs, donated money, and publicly supported the nine election campaigns with my name on the ballot. I am deeply touched to realize that some of the people here tonight were part of that first school board campaign in 1993. We didn’t win that one, but we learned from it and came back stronger in 1995 and the rest is history.

Most of all thank you to the original campaign committee, the people who have put up with all this for the past 29 years. Thank you to Julie, Aaron, and Kate for always being there and always telling me the truth I needed to hear. Thanks for letting our house be campaign headquarters on countless days and nights, and for your patience with my frequent absences. Each step of this journey was organic – one step at a time. It all started innocently with school site volunteering and kids’ activities – then school district committees and the die was cast. “Way leads on to way,” as Robert Frost said. When we started this, Aaron was 12 and Kate was 10. They made buttons, staffed the farmers market table, walked door to door, participated in committee meetings, and reluctantly posed for campaign photos. Thanks to my little Kent Drive family for saying yes so often, even when you didn’t feel like “just one more time” and “just one more thing.”

Thanks to you all for sharing this celebration tonight. From the bottom of my heart, I will always be grateful for the kindness and insight our family has received over the years. I am in constant awe at the power of community and the difference we can make for the people and places we hold dear when we serve together. Thank you all for sharing this wonderful journey with us.

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