Life Experiences, Advocacy Led Tracie Stafford to Enter Elk Grove Mayoral Race

For Tracie Stafford, her life's journey, which has included a wide variety of advocacy and volunteer work, has led her to enter the race for Elk Grove Mayor. The longtime Elk Grove resident is one of seven candidates seeking to replace Gary Davis as the city's directly elected Mayor.

As a small business owner, wife, and mother of four, one of who is currently serving in the U.S. Navy, Stafford has become a noted advocate for sexual abuse and domestic violence victims. A survivor of domestic violence, it was those experiences that have led Stafford to an advocate-themed professional career.

Along with her advocacy work for domestic violence survivors, Stafford has also volunteered as a Girl Scout group leader, is a professional small business advocate. Her small business advocacy has included serving several boards including the National Association of Women Business Owners, The Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce and an appointment by Gov.  Arnold Schwarzenegger to the California Small Business Board. 

Stafford's advocacy on behalf of domestic violence victims interestingly came after being crowned Mrs. California in March 2007. By November of that year, Stafford testified in front of the California State Assembly about being a domestic violence survivor. 

"I spoke at the Capitol, I testified, and I told my story," she said. "The more I spoke, the more I healed."

That experience and openness about her struggles led Stafford to reach out to people in the same situations. Her advocacy put her in front of audiences such as the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, The National Institute on the Prosecution of Domestic Violence, city departments, correctional facilities, and social change groups. 

As for her entry into politics, once Davis dropped out Stafford was urged by numerous friends and associates to enter the race. One of those encouraging her to get into the race was Congressman Dr. Ami Bera's District Director, the Rev. Faith Whitmore, who also serves as Executive Director of Sacramento Regional Family Justice Center.

"I finally came to the realization that if I am going to make changes, it needs to be on the policy level," Stafford said.

Regarding issues facing the Elk Grove, Stafford said "we have so many interesting challenges" and that residents need an "advocate on the city council."

"They [the city council] are not connecting how their decisions impact the people at the other end," she said. "Is that because they don't have the experience that I have had. Maybe they never had to choose between keeping their lights on or eating." 

Stafford, who has been in the community since 2001 noted that most people moved to Elk Grove because it has affordable housing and good schools.   

"We are a bedroom community, it's who we are, it's what we are," Stafford said. "I think we should really look at being the best bedroom community that we can be."

Stafford noted that the City needs to focus its efforts on developing amenities for residents so that when they come home from work, there should be no need to leave the community for other activities. Among some of the amenities, Stafford would like to see a performing arts center, cultural activities, and a stronger trail network.

"We are a bedroom community with beds, and schools, there are no amenities," she said. "There is no theater [company], there is no nightlife. If you want to go out, you need to go to Sacramento." 

She added, "We are not focused on building this into a beautiful, amazing bedroom city that you can't wait to get back to."

Regarding employment recruitment, Stafford said she support efforts, but takes a pragmatic view. "I'm all for bringing jobs, as long as they make sense for the community," she said.

While this is Stafford's first time seeking elected office, she expressed confidence in her chances of prevailing in this November's race.

"I'm in this race to win," she noted. 

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