10 Years After - A timeline of the intersection of politicians, politics in Elk Grove

Over the last several weeks, a drama worthy of a Telenovela has developed involving several community members and most notably politicians from each of the three largest local government bodies in Elk Grove, including the Cosumnes Community Services District, The City of Elk Grove, and the Elk Grove Unified School District.

The controversies are the claims and counter-claims of harassment and racial discrimination between Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly and EGUSD Trustees Bobbie Singh-Allen and Nancy Chaires Espinoza; and CCSD Director Jaclyn Moreno and their supporters. The drama, which started in late June, has now morphed into what will be a campaign issue between Ly and Singh-Allen, who is challenging him the November.

As part of this ongoing story, on Friday, I was invited to participate in a live Facebook video hosted by Elk Grove Media and News. In that appearance, I traced the political history of Elk Grove over the last 10 years and how that story has involved the politicians embroiled in the drama.

Sometimes it is easier to list those historical events than recite them, so below is a chronology of political events that are worth reflecting on in the current political environment. It is our view the events that have landed Elk Grove politicians and their respective supporters in this situation did not come out of nowhere.

From our perspective, recent events had their genesis 10 years ago when Elk Grove voters approved Measures K and L. Those measures created our current two-year term of a directly elected mayor, and that led to a series of events that carried forward, often in personal ways, to 2020.

For our readers who have been following Elk Grove politics since the start will correctly note, Measures K and L were the results of political dramas that played out before 2010. For the sake of this discussion, we have bifurcated the city's 20-year political history at the 2010 mark as events started in 2010 have had effects to this day.

It is worth noting that the timeline below lists several events. It does not document interpersonal dynamics between the parties involved, so let's consider one example - the dynamics between Nancy Chaires-Espinoza, Gary Davis, and Steve Ly.

As you will see, Davis initially supported the appointment of Chaires-Espinoza to the District 4 Elk Grove City Council seat he vacated upon election as Mayor. After the move to appoint Chaires-Espinoza failed, their relationship seemingly faltered.

In 2014 when the District 4 seat appeared on the ballot, not surprisingly, Chaires-Espinoza declares her candidacy. Also entering the District 4 race was Ly, who ran his campaign with the full-throated support of Gary Davis.

Following the events of the failed appointment of Chaires-Espinoza, did her relationship falter with Davis, and did Davis then encourage Ly to challenge her because of the possible rift? Chaires-Espinoza, Davis nor Ly have, to the best of our knowledge, ever spoken on the record about their interpersonal dealings regarding the failed appointment in 2013 and the 2014 District 4 campaign, but human relations will tell us there were probably hard feelings.

Then in 2016, when Chaires-Espinoza ran for her Area 6 seat on the EGUSD Board of Trustees, why did Ly support challenger Marlon Hill? Lingering resentments from the 2014 city council race?

The point of discussing the dynamics of Davis, Ly, and Chaires-Espinoza, is to illustrate the timeline listed below does not capture the myriad of personal, sometimes petty, conflicts between the players that while not in the public record, nonetheless happened. The current political situation involving politicians on the Elk Grove City Council, the Cosumnes Community Services District, and the Elk Grove Unified did not occur in a vacuum.

You will note we have used the term politicians instead of elected officials with intent. Officials make policy, while politicians engage in politics, and this is what is happening at this moment in Elk Grove's history  - we have politicians playing politics while the pressing needs of the COVID19 pandemic are affecting almost every constituent they represent.

City of Elk Grove
  • Voters approve Measure K and L establishing a directly elected mayor who will serve two-year terms
  • Councilmember Gary Davis wins reelection to a second term representing City Council District 4
  • Decennial U. S. Census happens which will be used to establish new districts in 2012 election
Continued next page
City of Elk Grove 
  • September - Councilmember Gary Davis declares mayoral candidacy
City of Elk Grove 
  • Because of Measure K, the number of districts in Elk Grove is reduced from five to four
  • The district represented by Councilmember Sophia Scherman drawn out of existence
  • Following Census results, new boundaries are drawn for four districts
  • November - Gary Davis win first directly elected mayoral race and vacates his District 4 seat
Elk Grove Unified
  • March - Jake Rambo appointed to Area 6 seat vacated by Pamela Irey. Other seeking the appointment included Heather Davis, wife of then Elk Grove City Councilmember Gary Davis, and Steve Ly.
  • August - Bobbie Singh-Allen appointed to Area 4 seat vacated by Pollyanna Cooper-LeVangie
  • November - Steve Ly beats Jake Rambo for Area 6 seat in the general election in a landslide victory
  • December - Steve Ly sworn-in as Area 6 EGUSD Trustee
City of Elk Grove
  • January - The Elk Grove City Council decided to make an appointment to fill the District 4 vacancy. 
  • One of those seeking the appointment was then Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Nancy Chaires Espinoza who was supported by Mayor Gary Davis and then Elk Grove City Councilmember Jim Cooper
  • EGUSD Trustee Steve Ly speaks on behalf of Nancy Chaires-Espinoza at city council meeting
  • Jim Cooper and Gary Davis were unable to move the appointment of Chaires-Espinoza forward after the city council deadlocked at 2-2 votes
  • Upon the deadlock, Jim Cooper said he was fine with having a special election to fill the vacancy
  • Gary Davis hesitated on the special election citing associated costs 
  • As a compromise, Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume suggests former EGUSD Superintendent Robbert Trigg as a placeholder until the next election
  • Over the objections of Jim Cooper, Gary Davis votes with Pat Hume and Councilmember Steve Detrick and appoint Robert Trigg
  • Chaires-Espinoza denied the opportunity to run in a special election by Gary Davis' abandonment
City of Elk Grove
  • Gary Davis runs unopposed or his second term
  • Steve Ly decides to run for the District 4 seat that Robert Trigg said he would not seek reelection to
  • Three other candidates including Nancy Chaires-Espinoza run for the District 4 seat
  • Gary Davis supports Steve Ly who wins with Nancy Chaires-Espinoza coming in second place in a four-candidate field
  • Councilmember Jim Cooper wins seat in California State Assembly and vacates seat mid-term
Elk Grove Unified
  • Bobbie Singh-Allen runs opposed for Area 4 seat
  • Upon his election to the Elk Grove City Council, Steve Ly vacates Area 6 seat midterm
City of Elk Grove 
  • Darren Suen appointed to the District 1 seat of the City Council following Jim Cooper's resignation
Elk Grove Unified
  • Nancy Chaires Espinoza appointed to Area 6 seat vacated by Steve Ly. 
  • Others applying for the seat included former Area 6 Trustee Jake Rambo who was defeated by Ly in 2012, former Elk Grove City Councilmember Sophia Scherman, and youth coach Marlon Hill. 
City of Elk Grove 
  • In the June primary, Heather Davis, wife of then Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis wins a seat on Sacramento County Office of Education by defeating Orlando Fuentes and Stephanie Nguyen
  • In early July, Mayor Gary Davis decides not to seek another term
  • Elk Grove City Councilmember Steve Ly declares mayoral candidacy
  • Gary Davis offers full support of Steve Ly
  • Steve Ly defeats Kevin Spease and Traci Stafford to win the first term as mayor
  • Steve Ly vacates District 4 seat paving the way for the third consecutive appointment to the city council
Elk Grove Unified
  • Nancy Chaires-Espinoza win election to Area 6 seat by defeating Marlon Hill who was supported by Steve Ly
Cosumnes Community Services District
  • Orlando Fuentes wins at-large seat on the CCSD Board of Directors
City of Elk Grove
  • Stephanie Nguyen appointed to the seat vacated by Steve Ly upon his election as Mayor
City of Elk Grove
  • Mayor Steve Ly runs for reelection and is challenged by Elk Grove City Councilmember Darren Suen and Traci Stafford. Steve Ly easily wins his second term
  • Former Mayor Gary Davis initially supports the reelection of Steve Ly 
  • About 10 days before election day, Gary Davis flips and does robocall supporting Darren Suen's mayoral candidacy (listen below)
  • Steve Ly forms a slate that includes CCSD Director Orlando Fuentes who challenges Stephanie Nguyen for the District 4 seat
  • Steve Ly easily wins reelection 
  • Stephanie Nguyen beats Orlando Fuentes for District 4 seat
Elk Grove Unified
  • Bobbie Singh-Allen runs opposed for Area 4 seat
Cosumnes Community Services District
  • As part of the Steve Ly slate, which included campaign mailers and other support, political newcomer Jaclyn Moreno comes in first place among all candidates and wins an at-large seat

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