Ly, Singh-Allen offer differing narratives in mailer, TV commercial

The latest round of political advertisements from Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly and challenger Bobbie Singh-Allen offer diametrically different narratives of the city.  While Ly's mailer provides an optimistic view of public projects and economic development in Elk Grove, Singh-Allen offers a more dismal view highlighting problematic private sector projects in recent years.

In his mailer titled "Mayor Steve Ly responds to negative campaigning..." that started arriving on Tuesday, the second-term mayor offers a list of city government activities and references public and private sector projects. The various items are listed under four categories, including economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic, fiscal health, public safety, and police reform, and pending and ongoing projects. 

Ly has been subject to an approximately $250,000 negative media blitz primarily from an independent expenditure committee affiliated with the California Real Estate Association. In a podcast interview with Elk Grove News, Ly said he thought their current campaign was motivated after he expressed concern to the group that their participation in a 2018 negative campaign against him used images reinforcing Asian stereotypes. 

While the brunt of negative advertising Ly has absorbed has been from the independent expenditure committees, Singh-Allen has also used them in her campaign. Ly has generally avoided using negative advertising and does not reference his opponents. 

Paid political advertisement

After referencing the negative campaign, on the flip side of the mailer, Ly offers a list of actions taken by the City of Elk Grove during the pandemic and several ongoing public and private sector projects. Private sector projects, two of which Ly did not include in his mailer, are the focal point in Singh-Allen's campaign video that has been seen on local Comcast cable broadcasts.

Starting with a black and white image of Ly that is sped up, the narrator calls Ly an absentee mayor with projects on the road to nowhere. The demolished unfinished Outlet Collection at Elk Grove shopping center, the yet-to-start Wilton Rancheria casino, and the controversial $900 million hospitals proposed by California Northstate University are cited as "dead, delayed or mired in controversy." 

For her pitch, the narrator does not state Singh-Allen's position on the controversial hospital project or how the construction of the casino project might be jumpstarted. Instead, the narrator says Singh-Allen will help ease traffic congestion and "overcome the impact of COVID-19."

Interestingly, both candidates try to create the impression the mayor has sole authority for items like creating a balanced budget in Ly's case or can alleviate traffic congestion, as Singh-Allen suggests she can accomplish. With the city's weak-mayor system, the mayor's position is one of five city councilmembers who presides over city council meetings, has a few more most ceremonial responsibilities, and who is one of five votes that create policies that are managed and implemented by the city manager and professional staff.     

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