How Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly Could Gain Traction, Leverage Unpopularity of Trump

July 24, 2017 |

If there is one favorable thing that can be said about Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, it is he knows how to win an election. In unprecedented fashion. Ly won three consecutive elections starting in 2012 for the Elk Grove Unified School District, the Elk Grove City Council in 2014, and 2016's race for Elk Grove Mayor.

While Ly had undistinguished tenures as a Trustee on the EGUSD board and his first two years on the Elk Grove City Council, supporters could say with some merit he was learning the ropes. However, that excuse evaporated once he was elected Mayor last November. 

With four years as an elected official and the expectations that come with being a directly elected Mayor, Ly has shown neither the inclination nor the desire to govern from a role of leadership. Each of the ideas he pushed from keeping a full-time assistant that he would have appointed, which his predecessor enjoyed but was unceremoniously stripped from him to his attempt to make the mayor a full-time position, Ly has abjectly failed.

Of course, there were a couple of things Ly supported  - only half-heartedly - by district voting, and holding a special election for the council seat he vacated that he meekly suggested. Not surprisingly his city council colleagues quickly dismissed the suggestions and Ly quietly let them die.

By any measure, Ly's first seven months as a Mayor has been, to be generous, unmemorable. However, in politics opportunities to regain a mantle often come in unexpected ways.

For Ly, one such opportunity has been presented to him from of all people, President Donald Trump. Among the things that could politically benefit Ly was Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate treaty.

Ly, who was attending the United States Conference of Mayors in Miami when Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the treaty,  was slow to react compared to other Sacramento regional mayors. About two weeks after the announcement, Ly said he did not support Trump's decision and would personally stand with his fellow mayor nationwide who condemned the withdrawal.

Because there have been differing opinions as to whether or not Ly can make a proclamation supporting Mayors National Climate Action Agenda on behalf of the city, the item is appearing on the Elk Grove City Council agenda this Wednesday night. And this is where the opportunity for Ly lies.

As has been suggested in an email circulated today to Elk Grove City Council members and local media, Ly could have a roll call vote whereby each of his colleagues can say, yes, I support the Paris climate treaty and all it signifies. Conversely, if some of his fellow council members do not want the city taking a stance on the controversial issue and vote against it, they will be tacitly saying, "I support President Trump."

Give all the political problems Trump is experiencing, and more importantly, his record low national approval rating, what politician in their self-serving mentality wants to be associated with that? 

In either scenario - for Republican Elk Grove Council Members Steve Detrick, Pat Hume, and more so for Democrat Darren Suen, voting against Ly and by extension the Paris treaty in a roll call will be a terrible look. Conversely, if Detrick, Hume, and Suen go along, offer no comments or objections, Ly will appear to have won a victory, albeit a minor one. 

From a practical point of view, Elk Grove's support of the Paris is more symbolic than anything. After all, does anyone expect the City Council to support strengthening, from a environmentalist point of view, the City's Climate Action Plan beyond minimum standards or put a kibosh on unfettered suburban sprawl - one of the several factors contributing to CO2 emissions - that would hurt their real estate developing patrons who finance their political careers and by extension their very identity?  

Regardless of the outcome, and symbolic or not, Detrick, Hume, and Suen could be handing Ly a political victory this Wednesday night. How those three handle themselves during deliberations will determine if it is a major win and a turning point or a just minor victory for Ly before he is besieged with more defeats.     

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Unknown said...

Or hopefully their response will be "We have enough to do managing our City to wade into international issues". Then again, it might be interesting if they get into a deep discussion on the issues involved to see which member of the Council could speak about the issues involved.

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