Davis eager to take helm of city | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Davis eager to take helm of city

Tahoe Daily Tribune Staff Reports

Jim Grant/Tahoe Daily Tribune Tom Davis

By Susan Wood

Tribune staff writer

South Lake Tahoe Councilman Tom Davis has a lot at stake in the success of his town.

Davis, who would be the first to say it’s not all about him, has several goals for the city. A personal one turned public. He’d like to shop for groceries at Raley’s at the “Y” for less than an hour.

Wherever he goes, people talk to Davis. Today he becomes Mayor Davis. Judy Brown returns to the status of councilwoman.

A resident since 1971, Davis has made the rounds of boards across the city. Beyond local government, he’s active in the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, Local Agency Formation Commission, Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, Christmas Cheer and the Kiwanis Club of South Lake Tahoe.

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“Don’t miss that one. I’ll get fined,” he joked Monday, while having lunch at one of his favorite hangouts – Carina’s Cafe.

He may look at life in a comical way, but he’s extremely serious about a smoothly running city that has a strong economy, economy, economy.

“At the end of this term, I want to see a viable economy,” he said.

Davis, 57, plans on taking the one-year helm for the third time while going into his 12th year on the City Council. He wouldn’t say whether this will be his last stint, as he’s up for re-election next year.

“With a name like Davis,” he quipped, joking about his chances of re-election being as good as the former governor’s.

As he puts it, the job as mayor involves being more of a “figurehead” – not a power authority.

“I can provide direction,” he said.

He’s excited about the future of the South Shore, since he’s working with a cohesive council, city workers that show real care for the community and redevelopment efforts panning out near Stateline.

“In four to five years, that will really pay off. You drive down there and look to the left, then look to the right. There’s a real opportunity there,” Davis said.

He was referring to the tax revenue expected from the existing Marriott-anchored complex as well as the promise of what may be gained from a key tourist enhancement proposed across the street. Davis wants Marriott – which expressed interest in building the convention center complex – to step up and sign a developer’s agreement.

Still with blue skies and a bright future on the horizon, Davis is also apprehensive about an upcoming budget picture that looks more threatening than this year.

“Real leadership comes when things are tight,” he said.

Many budget forces are expected to collide in the same year. This includes ongoing bargaining with employee unions, a $1.3 million contribution into the Public Employees Retirement System and a worsening state budget crisis.

“That’s our No. 1 priority – stabilizing the budget,” he said.

Davis said he’s tired of cuts in the city. Instead, he would like to focus on growing the economy from the revenue side.

This may mean raising the sales tax, possibly a tough nut to crack among residents who may be trying to dodge a parcel tax to boost revenue for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle,” he said.

As for retail, Davis urges residents to shop locally to maintain services in town.

“This is a tough town to do business in,” he said.

He didn’t have to look far for an example. Smart & Final closed a month ago when its Los Angeles corporate office became disappointed in the sales numbers.

Davis wants to make it easier on business by revisiting the sign ordinance, requesting intervention from the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and bringing more special events to town.

For example, he’d like to see a festival of lights in town – perhaps all along Ski Run Boulevard – which would be paid for with promotional dollars. He thinks it would be a good fit in a mountain town.

Community activism is a trait Davis encourages. His started early, attending former President Richard Nixon’s inauguration in 1969.

To spark a new generation, Davis endorses the idea of quarterly town hall meetings.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com