Greenwald (as Mayor) makes a presentation in China to officials of Wuxi, a Sister City

Sue Greenwald
Member, Davis City Council
2008-2012 (Councilmember)
2004-2008 (Mayor Pro Tem, subsequently as Mayor)
2000-2004-2012 (Councilmember)
(530) 756-5831
[email protected]
[email protected]
23 Russell Blvd.

Sue Greenwald was a member of the City Council. She lost her re-election bid in the 2012 City Council Election.


Sue Greenwald served as Mayor Pro Tem from 2004 to 2005, and as Mayor from 2006 to 20081. She was the only member of the city council who voted against Target, though the majority (51.5%) in Davis voted in favor of coming to Davis. Greenwald was also the only council member to vote against Covell Village, where her position was favored by a majority (59.9%) of Davis voters. Greenwald won re-election in the 2008 City Council Election.

Sue has served on many boards and commissions during her twelve years on the council. Among them are Board of Directors of the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority, the Yolo County Transportation District, the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, and the Yolo County Water Resources Association. Sue has served on the League of California Cities Revenue and Taxation Policy Committee and Environmental Quality Policy Committee. She has served as council liaison to numerous city commissions and task forces, including the Finance and Budget Commission, Recreation and Parks Commission, Open Space and Habitat Commission, Senior Citizen Commission, and Bicycle Advisory Commission. Sue has served on the City-County 2 by 2, the DBA 2 by 2, the City School 2 by 2 and the Mayor-UCD Chancellor 1 by 1.

Sue lives in one of Davis' oldest neighborhoods near campus with her husband, Mike Syvanen, who is a professor of Medical Microbiology at UC Davis. Sue holds a B.A. and an M.A. from UC Berkeley, and has worked as a social science researcher. Sue was motivated to run for City Council due to her passion for good city planning and for good government. Sue has an independent and analytical approach to problem solving. She takes the time to research each issue thoroughly, knows how to reach out to the top outside experts and receive the best advice on the major issues. Her circle of advisors include University economists, hydrologists, and environmental attorneys.

Living close to downtown, Sue is fortunate in that she can use her car very little and can rely heavily on walking. People comment that they see Sue walking around town frequently. Sue would like to bring more housing within walking distance to downtown so that more people can lead a life less reliant on the auto.

Sue enjoys bird-watching, photography, reading, Picnic in the Park, meeting with friends downtown and an occasional game of Scrabble in her spare time.

Sue Greenwald's Candidate Statement

2012 yard sign

I have a passion for good city planning. As your councilmember for the last 12 years and as your Mayor from 2006 to 2008, I have worked hard to achieve neighborhood preservation, slow growth, environmentally sensitive city planning, genuine fiscal responsibility and a walkable, bikeable, vibrant downtown. I have consistently voted to uphold these principles throughout three council terms, helping to ensure that Davis retains our special quality of life.

I have often been the lone voice for fiscal responsibility, back when the damage was still avoidable. When necessary, I have not been afraid to stand firm and to stand alone on these important issues. I didn’t prevail on every issue, but I succeeded in saving the City of Davis serious money.

I have taken the initiative and consistently voted to:

  • Preserve and protect the quality of life in all of our neighborhoods.
  • Bring more arts and entertainment downtown to create an environment worthy of a great University town.
  • Contain urban sprawl while supporting quality infill and student housing projects.
  • Promote important environmental initiatives, protect habitat and agricultural land, and re-establish Davis as a leader in environmentally innovative planning.
  • Support Davis’ tradition of excellent schools and respect for diversity and commitment to human rights. I supported Measure C, our school parcel tax.
  • Support high-tech industry.
  • Take the hard, necessary steps to bring our expenditures down.

If you go to the page Where Sue Stands, you can read about concrete initiatives that I have personally taken to achieve these goals in the past, and initiatives that I hope to take during the next four years.

We are facing difficult times with our budget crisis. At the same time, we have a new city manager, our finance director is leaving and we have many new councilmembers and candidates. We are losing our institutional memory. I feel that I can make a unique contribution by bringing that history, that experience, and that institutional memory to the council. A strong council has a balance of experience, stability, change, and viewpoints.

I hope you will consider supporting me for re-election.

— Sue Greenwald


2010 Confrontation with Ruth Asmundson

On January 26, during a city council meeting, Sue Greenwald had a confrontation with then Mayor Ruth Asmundson that ended when Admusndon was temporarily hospitalized with an anxiety attack. Like all city council meetings, it was televised. A clip was posted on Youtube by David Greenwald of the The Vanguard; see this video. In the clip, Greenwald repeatedly accused Asmundson of lying about what said in closed session; Asmundson denied that Greenwald had made a motion concerning an MOU during the closed session, but Greenwald said that she had in fact made a motion and that Ruth was lying. Greenwald asked Lamar Heystek whether she had made such a motion, and he confirmed that she had. A majority of the council attempted to end the discussion, but Heystek and Greenwald voted to continue. Asmundson blamed Greenwald for having caused her anxiety attacks in the past. Then, as Asmundson was taken away by ambulance, there was further chaos in the foyer; according to the Davis Vanguard, Greenwald accused Asmundson of faking it and vainly attempted to continue political debate with several people. The incident was covered by the Davis Vanguard (also here), the Sacramento Bee , News 10 TV, the Davis Enterprise (including Bob Dunning), and other media. At first Greenwald said that Asmundson owed her an apology, but later Greenwald apologized in a city council meeting.

Greenwald had also had earlier confrontations with Asmundson during city council meetings, one of which was also posted to YouTube.

2012 election mailer

On May 8, 2012, Davisites received an attack mailer citing this event, urging voters not to "reward bad behavior." The mailer stated that it was paid for by "Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 447, IBEW Local 340, Operating Engineers Local Union 3 in Support of Stephen Souza and in Opposition to Sue Greenwald." All four of the other candidates in the 2012 City Council Election denounced the attack mailer and disavowed any association with it. Ruth Asmundson also denounced the attack mailer.

When the mailers first appeared, Sue Greenwald wrote the following in the comments on the Vanguard article concerning the mailer:

A number of months ago, Jim Burchill of James Burchill & Associates approached me and told me that he was representing a building trades union, and that they really wanted the surface water project. He told me that the union was going to spend serious PAC money in our city election, and that I could be the beneficiary if I supported the project.

I am afraid that this deplorable action by an outside PAC will intimidate many good, brave citizens from going into local Davis politics for a long time to come.

The Vanguard soon determined that James Burchill did indeed seem to be behind the attack mailers. The Vanguard states, "Among Mr. Burchill's clients are not only the building trade unions who would be involved in the construction of the [surface water] project, but also Angelo Tsakopoulos himself who as the owner of the company that owns Conaway Ranch, stands to make huge amounts from the water deal approved back in December of 2010." The Davis Enterprise also covered the attack mailers, calling this an "ugly turn" in the Davis City Council campaign. Bob Dunning also denounced the mailer, calling it "the dirtiest campaign piece [he'd] ever received, bar none."

On May 15, 2012, the Vanguard exposed an e-mail that strongly implied Jon Li had a role in the attack mailer. A subsequent phone conversation between David Greenwald and Jon Li confirmed that Li had a small part in crafting the mailer, but, according to Li, his help was limited to a few suggestions and phone discussions with Burchill on the subject. Li ran an unsuccessful campaign for the 2010 City Council Election.

2012 Stealing and blocking campaign signs

Another controversy developed in which Greenwald's husband Mike Syvanen was seen block campaign signs with signs for Sue Greenwald, and also taking campaign signs, on Covell Boulevard. The story was covered in Davis Patch, the Davis Vanguard, CBS 13 TV, and the Davis Enterprise. Greenwald said that Syvanen acted out of frustration because so many of her lawn signs had disappeared, that she had warned him to be careful lest political operatives exploit his actions, and that much of the evidence against Syvanen had been staged.


Sue Greenwald was endorsed by the The Davis Enterprise for the 2012 City Council Election.

Sue endorsed Barack Obama for the February 2008 Primary Election and she wrote a letter to the editor of the California Aggie.

Campaign Literature



2008 yard sign


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2008-06-12 05:53:56   Hi Sue I once waved hi to you on campus and you waved back! You had an awesome 4th of July speech in 2007. Go get em! —DavidLiu


1. The City Council votes to pick the mayor. However, in 1990 the Council enacted an ordinance that would hold them to vote for the council member who received the most votes. The council could move to over-ride this ordinance and instead vote for whoever they wish, but has never done this. Greenwald feared the council would repeal the ordinance to prevent her becoming mayor.