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