Four Months After Winning Election, Mayor Steve Ly to Share 'Vision' For Elk Grove

Steve Ly compares himself to JFK

February 19, 2017 |

"It is time for a new generation of leadership, to cope with new problems and new opportunities. For there is a new world to be won." - John F. Kennedy

"I'll be the first to line up for the buffet line." - Steve Ly

On this the 20th day of February, Americans honor all 45 Presidents who have held what has become the most powerful elected position in the world.

Almost every man who was directly elected President possessed and articulated some vision of their agenda once in office. Be it Warren G. Harding's "return to normalcy" or John F. Kennedy's "New Frontier" to Donald J. Trump's "Make America Great Again," all spoke of some vision.

Although Mayors in mid-sized American cities do not have the sort of demands of higher elected officials like a Governor or U.S. Senator, those who move up the political food chain are visionary. A good example was former Indiana Senator and Mayor of Indianapolis, Richard Lugar.

Working his way up the pecking order in his home state, Lugar articulated the so-called Unigov which combined the government entities of Marion County and Indianapolis. This consolidation is credited with fueling that city's economic growth, which eventually helped them attract an NBA and NFL team and saved them from the savages of de-industrialization that sunk other rust belt cities.

Closer to home the late Sacramento Mayor Joe Serna was remembered for efforts to revitalize the downtown area, his advocacy for education and worker rights. Agree with him or not, Serna took a principled stance on labor and worker rights and would not enter the Hyatt Regency as it was a non-union operation.       

In Elk Grove, even recent former Mayor Gary Davis, the first to be directly elected to that office, attempted to cobble a vision for the city over the next several years. That vision rested primarily on Davis' effort to build a $100 million soccer stadium in hopes of attracting a Major Soccer League expansion team. 

While time will tell if the overpriced purchase of the 99-acres outside of city limits for the proposed stadium was a ruse to annex that and other parcels into Elk Grove city limits, it was a vision. Davis' vision was flawed and unrealistic, but it was something.

Now that Davis has left office and his protege Steve Ly won last year's election, we are now being guided by his vision. But what is that vision?

From our observation, even though he successfully campaigned and won the office, what is his vision as the titular leader of Elk Grove? The only original idea Ly articulated during his campaign was that as a father he was against the proposed $400 million Wilton Rancheria Casino, but as a Council Member, he supported the tribe.

Taking both sides of a controversial issue is hardly the making of a clear vision, much less robust, full-throated leadership. Trying to have something both ways is the markings of a weak and impotent leader not deserving of the office.

Alas, all is not lost. If you are willing to pony-up some cash, you can hear exactly, or exactly as only Ly can communicate, what is his vision for Elk Grove. 

The first opportunity, the less expensive one, will be on March 15 at the Spaghetti Factory on Laguna Boulevard. Sponsored by the Capital Asian American Professional Society, non-members only have to shell out $25 for what they bill as an opportunity to "hear his vision for Elk Grove."

The second and more expensive chance is the annual State of the City address sponsored by the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce. Staged at the Falls Event Center on Elk Grove Boulevard, this March 30 dinner event will cost you $65 but includes a combo plate of chicken and beef.  

It is unfortunate or perhaps by design that Ly did not outline what direction he wants to take the City during the next 21 months of his term. Undoubtedly, like his mentor Davis he will talk about job development and public safety while not offering any bold visionary ideas.

After three unspectacular months as Mayor, Ly has suffered numerous political setbacks and been repeatedly disrespected by his colleagues on the dais. If he chooses to, Ly could seize these two opportunities and stake out an aggressive agenda that says Elk Grove is a bold, progressive city that is moving forward, not backward on any host of issues ranging from civil rights to the environment.  

If you are willing to pay for the privilege, perhaps these events will illuminate how Ly intends to lead the City. If you leave the meetings without any clue where Ly wants to take the City, much less outright puzzled, do not say you were not warned.  


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

I just have two questions. Does the spaghetti come with garlic bread? And is it chicken or beef, or chicken and beef?

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

I am very pleased to see the comment section has been reopened.

While no fan of Mr. Ly, how different has he been from any other person who has been Mayor, appointed or elected? I would argue there is no substantial difference between Mr. Ly and any of his predecessors.

Their main interest is getting elected, and then staying in office once there. Consequently, like all American politicians they are beholden to their contributors who in Elk Grove's case are any organization interested in real estate development.

They are not making money unless they are moving dirt.

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