Black Swans in Elk Grove - Two years can make a real difference in politics




In the last few years, the term Black Swan Events has not only entered the vernacular but has also been experienced globally. While Wall Street types like the term to describe financial events, Black Swan Events can loosely be described as occurrences that have unanticipated effects.

In the last two years, most people did not anticipate the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdowns. Another event that had a far-reaching effect, which may or may not relate to the worldwide pandemic, was the murder of George Floyd.

After news and outrage spread over Floyd's death, it reached almost every community of size in the United States and beyond. One place where Mr. Floyd's death came was Elk Grove politics.  

Before that seminal event, Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly was running for his third two-year term and had no meaningful opposition. But in the aftermath of the Floyd murder, protests and rioting broke out in Sacramento and many other cities.

On the same night rioters caused extensive damage to Midtown and Downtown Sacramento establishments,  a small auto business repair shop outside the city's center was destroyed by a fire. A person owned that business with ties to Ly.

In what could be called a knee-jerk reaction, Ly posted an ill-advised social media comment. Many interpreted the comments as tying the protesters to the fire at the auto repair shop, which by all accounts, were separate events. 

Those comments and criticism of Ly went viral, at least in Sacramento-Elk Grove political circles. Soon after, a cavalcade of accusations swamped Ly. 

In one month's time, Ly went from facing only token electoral opposition to having formidable competitors. Even though political jockeying was going on, it was two years ago yesterday when then Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen bested her behind-the-scenes mayoral competitors, seized on Ly's woes, and entered the mayoral race.

In a three-way race, Singh-Allen easily bested Ly and became Elk Grove's third directly elected mayor and the first woman elected to that position.  

For Ly, the Black Swan Event of Mr. Floyd's murder ended his mayoral career. After that, things spiraled out of control for Ly that even the best political operations could not solve.  

So two years later, we have a mayor who has been in office for about a year and a half. Like her two predecessors, at this point in her tenure, Mayor Bobbie, as she prefers to be addressed, enjoys a degree of popularity and should easily be reelected this November.

Nonetheless, like her two predecessors, there are some dark clouds gathering that could produce Black Swans. Time will tell if Singh-Allen can surpass the two-term curse that befell her predecessors.  

Two years can make a real difference in politics.      

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1 comment

D.J. Blutarsky said...

I'm no fan of Gary Davis, but he did say one thing a few years ago that I agree with--"all politicians have a shelf life".

Here's my translation: "No matter how her political machine is put together, all used cars eventually break down"

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