Elk Grove Women in Politics - Advocates and Watchdogs




March is Women's History Month. As this month-long celebration of the important and still under-appreciated role women play in society, we acknowledge the role they have played in Elk Grove politics.

While women are only just now making gains in being elected officeholders on the Elk Grove City Council and Cosumnes Community Services District Board of Directors, their role in Elk Grove politics as advocates and watchdogs cannot be overstated.  

Whether it is a graphic display of failing roads in our community or simply calling truth to power, in our years of observation, women have taken a far more active role in civic matters than their male counterparts. It is fair to say, these watchdogs and advocates are responsible for keeping our elected officials accountable.

We acknowledge this is not an all-inclusive compilation of women involved as non-elected people in political matters in Elk Grove. Nonetheless, suffice it to say, without these Advocates, Watchdogs, and many others, the community would have few individuals seeking accountability. 

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted all in-person government meetings, so in the last year, there has been less visible participation. As one Advocate and Watchdog quipped, she does not like calling into meetings as she had no way of know if councilmembers hit their mute button, sparked up a smoke, and took a quick belt of Scotch during public comment.

While councilmembers undoubtedly enjoy their seclusion from the public, once the COVID19 restrictions lift, that too will return to normal. Bring 'Em On!   

In Memorium 
 
Sarah Johnson

A towering figure in her time, Sarah Johnson was active as both a watchdog and advocate since the founding of Elk Grove in 2000. An Old Town Elk Grove resident, Johnson advocated for several initiatives to merchants and residents that help create the special planning area, and she fearlessly spoke truth to power in the most diplomatic manner. 

Many newer Elk Grove Advocates and Watchdogs may not be aware of her importance, but when you hear the name, she helped trailblaze community involvement in Elk Grove.    



Advocates & Watchdogs 

Lynn Wheat

An advocate for smart planning and environmental issues who leaves no stone unturned in her investigations, Wheat regularly speaks on land use issues, responsible government spending, and various other issues before the Elk Grove City Council, the Elk Grove Planning Commission, and many other government agencies. When the city's massive annexation was declined by the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission in 2013, Wheat led the opposition to the expansion and is widely credited for the city's humiliating setback. 

In the video below, after Wheat highlighted failing roads in Elk Grove during a city council meeting, not long after, the city started preparing potholes and initiated regular road maintenance after years of neglect. Our vehicles say thank you!


Connie Conley

A longtime watchdog of the Elk Grove City Council, Conley has for years monitored the Elk Grove City Council for things like Brown Act violations and conflicts of interest and has never been fearful of calling out councilmembers for any number of malfeasances. Along with other community members, she helped keep the Super Walmart proposed for Sheldon and Power Inn roads from development.

A portion of the below video shows Conley pointedly addressing the Elk Grove City Council.


Daisy Hughes

A resident of the Stonelake community, Hughes' role in community involvement began after California Northstate University proposed their massive hospital in the far-west neighborhood. Hughes and several other people activated opposition to the project with the formation of Neighbors Ensuring Stonelake Transparency (NEST), and their effectiveness not only generated substantial community awareness to the now unfulfilled project, but it is also believed their stance against the CNU project contributed to the defeat of former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly in 2020.

As demonstrated in the video below, Hughes has also called out Elk Grove city councilmembers for not "demanding excellence" from developments.
      

Linda Ford

When a Walmart Supercenter was slated to be built in her backyard, Ford, one of three founders of Elk Grove Coalition Advocating Proper Planning (EGCAP), was accused of being a so-called NIMBY. But with determination, Ford and others proved the naysayers wrong. Ford has stayed involved by exposing the Elk Grove Teen Center scandal, and guided Glenbrooke residents to keep the Super Walmart from being a 24-hour operation. 

Appearing before the Elk Grove City Council, Ford addressed possible ethics violations of one of their members.

 

Danetta Garcia

Although she is retired and moved to Washington to be close to family, Garcia kept an eye on Elk Grove city council members throughout her involvement. Of great significance, a voter registration effort co-led by Garcia, conducted in just two weeks not long after the city was incorporated in July 2000, brought $51 million to the city coffers.  

Along with her financial contributions to the city, Garcia was yet another fearless person who called it as she saw it.  
 

                   
Nikki Carpenter

Although she has relocated from Elk Grove, Nikki Carpenter could be counted on for calling out city councilmembers. In the video below, she called out former Elk Grove City Councilmember and Mayor Gary Davis after he was dodging calls from her other associates over the city's expansion plans.

Additionally, Carpenter had such a sharp sense of humor that she even managed to get city councilmembers to laugh at her satire. Watch that January 2010 video here.

 

 
Suzanne Pecci

A longtime resident of Elk Grove's geographically large rural area Suzanne Pecci has been an advocate for that community. Although not as visible as others at Elk Grove City Council meetings, Pecci's ongoing scrutiny of the all-important but complex water issues and their effect on the future of the rural area and the future development of the city can not be overstated.
 

Maureen Craft

In the aftermath of hate crimes aimed at an African American business in Old Town Elk Grove, Craft was instrumental in implementing a diversity audit of the city's workforce. Since then, the city has more aggressively sought diversification of its city staff and the Elk Grove Police Department, which led to the hiring of the city's first African-American assistant police chief, the highest serving African-American police officer to date.
 


Mia Foster

In the last year, Mia Foster's visibility, or at least her voice, has had omnipresence at Elk Grove City Council meetings. Foster, who has been an unabashed critic of the Elk Grove City Council, has vocally defended the Hmong-American community in Elk Grove and the surrounding area and has been active in school reopening efforts.
 

Danessa Atiles 

Although Elk Grove is politically a middle-of-the-road city, Danessa Atiles has unapologetically advocated progressive policies, especially for those less-advantaged members of the community. As demonstrated below, that advocacy has included speaking from personal experience. 


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Copyright by Elk Grove News © 2020. All right reserved.



 







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2 comments

Steve L said...

You go, girls!

EG is a better city thanks to these and many others who play watchdog over city business.

D.J. Blutarsky said...

Thank you EGN for parading the Hall of Fame women who have helped show Elk Grove what is could become. To be fair and balanced, EGN should now parade the Hall of Shame men from Granite Bay who have shaped Elk Grove for what it is.

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