City officials express dissatisfaction with mayor.
Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren Suen and Elk Grove City Council Member Stephanie Nguyen on Aug. 26 jointly opened a campaign office at 9240 Laguna Springs Drive #101, a short distance from Elk Grove City Hall.
Suen and another candidate, Tracie Stafford, are currently seeking to unseat Mayor Steve Ly to become the city’s next mayor.
In another race, Nguyen is running to retain her seat as the council’s District 4 representative. She is being challenged by Orlando Fuentes, a director on the Cosumnes Community Services District board, which governs the Cosumnes Fire Department and Elk Grove’s parks and recreation programs.
Both Nguyen and Suen joined the council at separate times through appointments to fill the vacant seats of council members who did not complete their terms. Suen was elected to retain his seat in 2016, while Nguyen is running for her seat for the first time.
Since announcing their campaigns, both Suen and Nguyen gained support for this November’s elections from the entire council, with the exception of Ly. They also have full support from the Elk Grove Planning Commission.
During the event, Suen described his greatest issues of concern as traffic congestion, the jobs-to-housing imbalance and public safety.
Suen, who is in his fourth year on the council, emphasized his background when speaking about his qualifications to become the city’s next mayor.
“I am the most qualified candidate for the job, because of my experience in land use planning, transportation, water resources, flood management,” he said. “I’ve been able to unite people, whether it’s Democrat or Republican, or people in the community or even most of my colleagues on the council to solve problems.”
Nguyen said that she is hopeful to continue her work as a council member.
“I was very fortunate to be appointed to this position,” she said. “I’ve made decisions and voted on things in the past two years. I want to be here to see those things come to fruition. I want to also be a part of this city as it grows.”
She noted that one of her strengths come from her background in workforce development.
“Right now workforce development is something we’re all putting as a priority,” she said. “To be able to say that we have a skilled workforce in our city, to be able to take those jobs when they come here to our city, I don’t know if that’s the case yet.
“With the resources that I know about that are available, with the services that I know are available, I want to make sure that our community here in Elk Grove takes advantage of that, and that we prepare our young people to be able to take on the jobs that come to our city.”
Nguyen also named transportation, safety and cleanliness as other issues that are very important to her as a representative on the council.
Suen said that his desire to share a campaign office with Nguyen has a lot to do with the respect he has for her as a council member.
“I have a great amount of respect for Stephanie,” he said. “The mantra has been, ‘You’re the woman, and so, she’s certainly that. She’s only the second woman we’ve had on the Elk Grove City Council. She’s our first Asian Pacific Islander (API) woman in a city that’s 27 percent API.
“But as an individual, her passion and her diligence in studying the subject matter and learning the issues, being thoughtful in her decision making, I’m just extremely proud to be serving with her right now.”
Council members criticize mayor.
During the event, several Council members criticized Mayor Ly.
Nguyen claimed that Ly has taken a self-centered approach to dealing with issues.
“We’ve got a mayor right now that only sees himself and everything is about him and what he’s able to do,” she said. “He refuses to work with the entire council or when he does, at the end, he always claims that he’s the one that did everything, rather than making it a team effort. He’s definitely pushing himself only and (he) makes sure that everything he does is just about him.”
Nguyen further expressed her frustration in working with Ly.
“In order for us to (work together) efficiently, we need to make sure that we’re all on the same page,” she said. “Well, not necessarily on the same page, but communicating with each other, and that’s not happening right now with our mayor.”
Council Member Steve Detrick referred to Ly as a show horse.
“There’s a difference between a workhorse and a show horse,” he said. “Steve Ly, in my opinion, is a show horse. He’s worried about the photo ops, he’s worried about how he looks in the paper, he’s worried about how he looks on social media.
“I’ve watched him now for four years and he’s uninformed on the issues. Fortunately, four of us (on the council) are informed on the issues to make the decisions, and he’s just riding on the coattails of the other four.”
Detrick was asked how long he has been dissatisfied with Ly as mayor.
“From his first meeting when he was more concerned about what financial incentives he had available to him and how many paid staff members he could have and how many offices he could have,” he replied.
“Those were his number one concerns coming onto the council. Right away it threw up red flags, and ever since then I’ve been watching closely, and he’s never changed his mannerisms. In fact, he’s out of the area right now.
“He’s not even in California. Here we had one of our biggest events of the year this year – our Multicultural (Festival). He’s nowhere to be seen. It’s time for a change, time for an upgrade.”
As for his own thoughts on Ly as mayor, Suen did not provide any specific criticisms.
“The first two years were telling,” he said. “So, there’s a reason why I didn’t endorse (Ly) in the mayor’s race. Then it was trying to give him a chance and hope that he governed well. I think the general public doesn’t care, doesn’t need to know about all the things that go on behind the scenes. So, I don’t need to dwell on that.”
Other Suen, Nguyen
Also attending Suen and Nguyen’s campaign office opening event were Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove; Elk Grove planning commissioners Kevin Spease, Mackenzie Wieser, and Frank Maita; Elk Grove School Board President Nancy Chaires Espinoza; Elk Grove School Board Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen; and Jimmie Yee, whose many years in politics included serving as a Sacramento County supervisor and the mayor of Sacramento.
Suen told the Citizen that the support he is receiving from community leaders can serve as a tool for those who are still deciding who to vote for in the mayoral race.
“If you just look at the people that know us, that work around us in the past and now, you see where the support is going,” he said. “If you can’t decide between (Ly, Stafford) and I, then look to others that you might trust.”
Reprinted from Elk Grove Citizen
By Lance Armstrong Citizen Staff Writer
Local police and firefighter unions last week endorsed Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren’s run for mayor.
He is challenging incumbent Steve Ly in this November’s election.
Supporting Suen in his bid to become the city’s next mayor are the Elk Grove Police Officers Association (EGPOA) and Sacramento Area Firefighters, Local 522.
Suen told the Citizen that he feels honored to have received these endorsements.
“I am extremely honored to have the endorsements of the men and women that represent public safety in our city,” he said. “I think public safety is a huge concern for the community, and personally I believe public safety is a critical foundation for a healthy community.
“Just having the support of these men and women in law enforcement and our firefighters, recognizing that I am someone who will make public safety a priority and they trust to make our community safe, I am extremely honored.”
Suen referred to public safety as a “pillar of a prosperous community.”
“If you don’t have folks that feel safe, they’re not going to be out there shopping,” he said. “If you don’t have businesses that feel safe, they’re not going to want to open shop.”
As for why the Elk Grove Police Officers Association endorsed Suen for mayor, Mark Bartley, the association’s president, told the Citizen that it was because of his background of supporting the local police department and its union.
“Darren comes in with a track record of being a supporter of the police department and the POA,” he said. “Darren wants a safe community and he knows how to get a safe community, and that’s through supporting the (police department).”
Chris Schamber, Cosumnes vice president of Sacramento Area Firefighters, Local 522, commented on that organization’s endorsement of Suen.
“Darren has reached out several times to the Cosumnes firefighters with his visions about the growth of the city of Elk Grove,” he said. “As our ability to best serve the community does relate to a coordination of our services with city services, open dialog is a very important aspect.
“Additionally, while the city of Elk Grove does not provide fire or medical services, they have the responsibility to appropriately support the city police department to ensure public safety. With Vice Mayor Suen’s past support of local law enforcement and his current endorsement from (EGPOA), it is our belief he will be the best candidate to continue to support our city police officers.”
EGPOA represents more than 200 public safety professionals serving residents of the city. Local 522 represents more than 1,800 firefighters in the Sacramento region, including the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) firefighters who serve Elk Grove and Galt.
The EGPOA endorsed mayoral candidate Kevin Spease in the 2016 election over Ly, which prompted him to accuse the organization of making a “backroom deal” with his opponent during a Citizen interview.
Asked to comment on Suen’s recent endorsements, Ly praised public safety professionals.
“Politics aside, I have always and will continue to support the brave folks who put their lives on the line every day,” he said. “I admire them.”
The vice mayor mentioned some of his other more notable endorsements, including the entire City Council, all five city planning commissioners, Elk Grove school board President Nancy Chaires Espinoza, and school board trustees Bobbie Singh-Allen and Chet Madison.
Suen explained why he believes he is the best candidate for mayor.
“I enjoy the work, I enjoy meeting with people, listening to their concerns and then using my experience and skill sets to try to help alleviate their concerns,” he said. “It’s anything ranging from big issues like traffic and planning to smaller issues like their neighbors fence being encroached too close to their home or a problem with their billing statements. I just try to help as much as I can.”
Reprinted from Elk Grove Citizen
By Lance Armstrong Citizen Staff Writer
Elk Grove Vice Mayor Darren Suen on April 5 announced that he will run for mayor this November.
He will challenge incumbent Steve Ly as well as opponents Jabin McGowan and Tracie Stafford, who finished in third place in the 2016 mayoral race.
Suen was appointed to the council’s District 1 seat in 2014 after Jim Cooper vacated the seat to serve in the California Assembly. Two years later, Suen was elected to keep his Council seat.
Among those supporting Suen in his effort to become the city’s next mayor are Council members Pat Hume, Steve Detrick and Stephanie Nguyen as well as Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Kevin Spease, who was the runner-up to Ly in the 2016 mayoral election.
While standing in front of those city leaders and other community leaders at California Northstate University in the Laguna area, Suen described his desire to assist in the city’s progression.
“With the help of the leaders standing with me today and through the support of residents, I hope to continue our work of building a more sustainable city that is safe and inclusive, with employment centers connected by trails and supported by workforce training, an effective transportation system, and a fun, nurturing environment to grow up and plant long-term roots,” he said.
Suen mentioned that as a council member, he has worked toward improving Elk Grove as a place to “live, work, and thrive.”
The vice mayor also said that he’s a leader who has supported investments in affordable housing and funding for new transportation projects, and pushed for entertainment centers and improved safety for bicyclists.
Suen, who has a background in land use and planning, explained in an interview that his decision to run for mayor was based on his employment and council experience, and his feeling that he would be a better leader than the current mayor.
“To me, it’s having the trusted leadership that I guess I’m not confident is there today, “ he said. “And I think that I can do a better job. With the experience that I have and my training, and the vision that I have for the city, I think I can do a good job in that role.
“My analysis is an independent one. In other words, I’m just looking at what I can do in that role and that’s why I’m choosing to take this step.”
Hume praised Suen for his understanding of building and land use development, economic development, infrastructure needs and financing.
“(Suen) just has the scope of a lot of different tools that would be needed to take Elk Grove to the next level and really manage the growth that will be coming in the next five to 10 years,” he said.
Hume also said that Ly at times conducts himself in a manner that is embarrassing to the City Council.
“Steve, for better or worse, has done a lot of what I think are self-serving things that have brought some embarrassment to the City Council, and he’s done so unapologetically,” Hume said. “And so, it’s like he really doesn’t take the city’s image into account when he does some of the things that are good for Steve Ly’s image.”
Nguyen also highlighted Suen’s experience in land use and planning.
“The way that we’re growing and all the new things that are coming into the city,” she said, “that’s going to take somebody that has that experience, somebody that has done it before, that’s going to be able to lead us and take charge in this.”
Detrick said that he supports Suen for mayor because he believes that he is the best candidate to help the city progress.
“It’s who has the biggest tool box to do the job,” he said. “Who’s got the knowledge? Who’s got the energy? Who’s got the connections? I think when you look at all that, of the people who are candidates, Darren by far has the bigger toolbox to help take the city to the next level.”
Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen referred to Suen as a “more than qualified” mayoral candidate.
“He has an amazing ability to see issues with greater understanding,” she said. “I think anybody who watches him on (the) City Council knows that he does his homework (and) understands the issues.
“He asks pertinent questions and has diligent follow-through. And we need somebody who understands what the needs of Elk Grove are and how to move our city forward.”
Reprinted from Elk Grove Citizen
By Lance Armstrong Citizen Staff Writer
For the first time since 2006 when Gary Davis and Pat Hume were sworn into office, the Elk Grove City Council installed two new members in December 2012. Those two were Steve Ly, who won the election for the vacancy in the District 4 seat and Darren Suen, who was appointed to the District 1 seat vacated when Jim Cooper was elected to the California Assembly.
In that time residents of Elk Grove have been able to view the two novices and make their observations as to how well suited they are to perform the business of the people. Likewise, we have viewed both councilmen and have a mid-term assessment.
As the title of this story suggests, Suen and Ly are a study in contrast. Our view is that Suen has demonstrated superior comprehension of the issues facing our city and comes to the council meeting prepared to ask meaningful questions that enable serious deliberations.
An example of this was on display at Wednesday’s meeting during a presentation on the proposed senior center for the Elk Grove Civic Center project (see video below).
After hearing the staff presentation, Suen asked a design question that indicates that not only he was paying attention, it shows that he reviewed the material before hand. By contrast, only after hearing Suen’s questions did Ly query the staff member.
As is typical for Ly, his question was inane. Anyone who regularly watches council meetings is familiar with Ly’s modus operandi.
A colleague will ask a probing question that helps for a more thorough deliberation, and after hearing the question, Ly either parrots the question or asks or makes an inane question or comment.
Furthermore, hedging his lack of familiarity with the subject matter, Ly will make a bridge statement like, “on the other hand…” or some facsimile thereof. This shows that either he has not even formed a sort of preliminary assessment of the item enough to express a thought with a degree of confidence, which is ironic given his massive ego whenever he is in the spotlight, or worse, he is just doing an Elk Grove version of Neville Chamberlain voter appeasement.
From our perspective, this indicates Ly comes to the meetings with unprepared. Worse, his inane questions show an incredible lack of curiosity.
Suen, like all of his colleagues, is not unblemished during deliberations. We have frequently criticized him for his use of slang names when addressing city staff member, most notably Christopher “CJ” Jordan.
Even though Suen addressed Jordan as “CJ” during deliberations Wednesday night, he quickly corrected himself. While Jordan said that the nickname was acceptable, it is disrespectful to the audience, especially those infrequent viewers of proceedings, who may not be familiar with who “CJ” is.
Having said that, Suen quickly corrected his mistake. Furthermore, when addressing a female speaking during proceeding a few weeks ago, he properly used “Ms” instead of the person’s first name.
Notwithstanding policy disagreements we may have with Suen as well as his lose use of nicknames, he has demonstrated that of the two new council members, he takes his role seriously and possesses the curiosity and intellectual capacity to conduct the people’s business in a responsible, humble manner.
Sadly, the same cannot be said for Ly.
Reprinted from Elk Grove News.net
July 15, 2016