Alum and Ally: Denise Davis Runs for Redlands City Council

University of Redlands alum Denise Davis is running for city council in Redlands District 1. Walking into Holt Lobby to speak to University of Redlands Johnston students “literally feels like coming home” for Davis. She was part of the Johnston Center during her time at the university and is now a member of the alumni board representing Johnston.


Davis has always wanted to make social change and never imagined herself in the political sphere. However, after starting Redlands for Progressive Change and being elected as a Democratic State Delegate, she realized it is one in the same fight. These building blocks exposed her to working across the aisle and caught the attention of many local and national leaders. Redlands Mayor Paul Foster, Congressman Pete Aguilar, Redlands Police Officers, and many others have endorsed Davis; she’s putting Redlands on the map.


Her ties to the university are strong — she wrote for the Redlands Bulldog, worked as the Johnston Assistant Director, and founded Safe Space Allies on campus, a program that encourages acceptation of the LGBTQIAA community through Safe Space Ally training and awareness campaigns. She has incorporated her gender and social change studies into her community organizing and campaign.


Davis could be the first openly queer city council member in Redlands. Being blatantly attacked in homophobic ways motivates her to be an ally wherever she can. She pointed out, “Women have to be asked seven times to run for office, while men simply just run. Encourage the women in your life to run for office.”


Davis has a unique focus on public art. After speaking with Redlands police officers, they confirmed the benefits of public art; not one incident has occurred in the iconic alleyway behind Crepes of Wrath and À La Minute since the murals were painted. In addition to addressing public safety issues in a refreshing, new way, Davis has made sustainable growth and development, and preservation of Redlands’ historic charm key points of her campaign.


Poll numbers show Davis ahead, but she still “runs her campaign like she only needs one more vote.” She reminds the university students to be mindful of who they are voting for in each local election because many politicians use city council and county offices as stepping stones to larger positions such as Congressional offices and potentially the presidency. With the election on November 6th, anything can happen in forty-two days. She stated, “You run opposed or you run scared.”


Photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer Caillie Roach