Heeding The Call To Public Service: An Interview With City Council Member Pat Hume
Pat Hume actively served on the City of Elk Grove Planning Commission when the city incorporated in July 2000. By 2006, Hume was elected to the Elk Grove City Council and has been actively serving for over 15 years. In addition to local government, Hume is also a member of several regional boards such as: Sacramento Regional Transit; Local Agency Formation Commission; and Capital Southeast Connector Joint Powers Authority. He is also the President of the Elk Grove Regional Scholarship Foundation.
Hume is currently running in the 2022 election for District 5 Sacramento County Supervisor. Elk Grove Tribune had a chance to talk with Hume about what motivated him to run, what his visions for Sacramento County are, and what his stance is on existing policies.
I Was Called Back to Public Service
When we asked Hume about what motivated him to run for the District 5 Seat, he told us that he was not necessarily planning on running at first:
“Initially I wasn’t going to (run) because of how vitriolic and caustic the political environment has become. I was ready to move on to something different in my life, but I was called back to public service.”-City Council Member Pat Hume
“I’ve been a council member for a little over 15 years, and planning commissioner prior to that. I’ve always been a local politics kind of person. I like rolling up my sleeves and doing the work, and seeing the effects of my efforts and being able to interact with people in the grocery stores, and in the streets, etc. I’ve never had a political ambition beyond local government – this was the only other seat that I ever considered running for, and it was a situation where I felt If I had the capacity and the bandwidth to get in and if nothing else just lead by example, and just show people that we can be civil, and have discourse, and agree to disagree and still be friends, that I needed to do that.
“if I had chosen to run off because it didn’t sound like it was fun , that would have reflected poorly on my character. That’s not the type of person I am. I just decided to go for it and received an amazing outpouring of support. As I said, this is the only other office I have ever considered, and so should the voters decide to put me in to being a Supervisor, i’ll do it for a little while, and then be happy to cap 20 years of public service and say that’s good”
I’m in This to do the Work
Hume has been an integral part of Elk Grove’s growth and development for over 20 years. When asking him about what sets him apart from other candidates, he said it was his experience and commitment to serve:
“I would say experience and commitment primarily. The experience with what I’ve been doing at the city, as well as in the private sector – I’ve been dealing with a lot of the issues that come before a county supervisor. For example, land use, infrastructure, etc. these types of things for over 20 years.”-City Council Member Pat Hume
“The learning curve is very flat, not very steep, so I’m able to kind of hit the ground running. I’m in this to do the work. I want to get the job, roll up my sleeves, do the work, and serve the people, and hopefully I leave things a little better than I found them, and that’s it – this is not an ambition play for me. It’s not a stepping stone. It’s a genuine desire to serve.
Compelling Issues at Hand
Although there are many policies in place concerning issues such as, regional growth, and traffic protocols, etc. We asked Hume about which policies would be at the top of his agenda if elected to the District 5 seat. He told us that there are three issues he feels require the most attention right now:
“Well, there’s a lot of (policies) obviously, and some of them have always been around. Growth, traffic, crime – these are perennial governance issues that you have to keep an eye on. More pressing right now are a couple things: One is economic recovery coming out of the pandemic, making sure that the relief money that flows in flows down to the people who have been most affected, and isn’t siphoned off to either grow programs or provide administration, or a level of bureaucracy – that it actually helps the people who are hanging on by a thread right now.”
“The second pressing issue is homelessness, and how do we really make a meaningful impact on changing the trajectory of these lives for people that are out struggling right now. They’re struggling for very different reasons.”– Council Member Pat Hume
Rethinking What We’ve Been Doing
“Homelessness is a group of individuals – it’s not this monolithic thing that you just apply a formula to, and figure out how to solve it. You’ve got to meet them where they are and address what has led them to that spot, and gauge their willingness to seek help. Then, what help can be provided to have an impact? That’s a big one that’s going to take a lot of effort and maybe rethinking what we’ve been doing.”
“ Another big one is what we’ve seen in the public safety arena and how we ensure safe neighborhoods, and that people feel safe in their homes going out to shop, recreating in the parks, doing all the things, the quality of life stuff, but do it in a manner where there’s always constant continuous improvement in how we enforce laws.”
A Streamlined Approach to Economic Recovery
Amidst the pandemic, we asked Hume to give us his thoughts on economic recovery for Sacramento County. He made some rational points about securing aid for the people who need it; reinforcing a sense of predictability for businesses that were impacted by mandated closures; and streamlining business processes in a more efficient way:
“The first thing is making sure that any governmental assistance (financial aid) reaches the people who most need it, and that it flows down to the folks that can use it. That’s number one.”– Council Member Pat Hume
“Number two is stability. I hear as we’ve tried to address the pandemic, a lot of it has been uncertainty. We don’t know necessarily what the best course of action is. But the stop, start, push, pull, we’re open, we’re closed – we have these mandates in place. We’ve got to get to a situation where we are starting to move to certainty or predictability so that a business can feel certain that they can invest (or not). Imagine you’re a restaurant and you’re trying to stock up on supplies in order to serve your customers, and then your doors get closed. Those supplies rot and now they’re no good to anybody. They contribute to the waste stream.
Moving Towards a Place of Personal Responsibility
“There are things that we can do to recognize that we don’t have the answers yet. But we’re adults and we’re moving towards a place of personal responsibility with respect to the response to the pandemic, and allowing commerce and our economy to actually happen.”
“The next thing (beyond just pandemic recovery) is removing financial and processing barriers. Those who want to open or expand their businesses can do so in a more cost effective and timely manner. For example, fees and inspections, regulations and processing of plans, etc – Just running the government more efficiently. Also, having cross-departmental communication so that all boats are pointed in the same direction. It’s very important that we start to have an orientation that’s more focused on customer service, so that we’re a facilitator rather than a gatekeeper. I think that’s a big one.”
More on Homelessness – It’s Not Just a Housing Issue
Going back to what we previously touched on, Hume feels that the homeless crisis in the Sacramento region is not just a housing issue. He emphasized other contributing factors that he feels lead to homelessness. For example, past trauma, mental health issues, and substance abuse:
“The first thing I’m going to say is going to sound a little bit radical, but I think it’s important that we have an honest discussion. Homelessness is not just a housing issue. Obviously the affordability and obtainability of housing across economic strata is important, and a little out of reach for folks right now, but homelessness is not just a housing issue.”
“If we had a bed for every person living on the street, we’re still not going to solve homelessness. There are so many other factors related to mental health; substance addictions; trauma and things that happened in their life where they were never given the tools to figure out how to normalize in the demands of society.”
Changing the Trajectory
“For me, it’s about approaching each person as an individual. Trying to find out where they are and what is holding them back. I think there are those out there that are deluded into thinking “this life is okay because it allows me to do these other things that I enjoy doing.” I’ve heard that from the law enforcement community who have contact with people that say, “I enjoy getting high,” and that’s a problem.”
“You’re not going to solve that issue because it’s not an issue. It’s a person who’s struggling with something, and until you can convince them that there is a better way, you’re not going to change their trajectory”– Council Member Pat Hume
“The biggest part of all is having a mental health support network where there’s actually a safety net. An arena of support that is there to help those who have passed the point of logical reasoning. If you don’t have anywhere to take them, or anyone to help get them clear-minded, then the guys that got their shirt off standing in the middle of the street screaming into the wind – that’s a heavier lift. I mean, that’s going to take a lot more than what we can do in the near term.”
Hume also told us about Laura’s Law and how that could impact the family dynamic:
“The second thing that they’ve done well is they have opted into what’s called Laura’s Law. When we did away with the mental health hospitals, and changed society’s stance on having somebody committed to where you can’t intervene on someone’s behalf, unless they’re a proven danger to themselves or others. Even if you’re a family member.”
“Laura’s Law is pretty comprehensive. “If you have demonstrated that you’re past the point of making good decisions for yourself, we can intervene on your behalf. All of this is encompassed within what the county is doing with their homeless outreach team, which combines law enforcement, (not necessarily sworn officers) but those who are within the department, and mental health professionals. In some cases, public works folks who can address environmental issues and clean up – that sort of thing.”
In regards to public safety concerns, Hume addressed the current state of our justice system, and gave us his thoughts on releasing inmates prematurely. He also touched on what needs to happen in order to ensure safer neighborhoods:
“We have to buttress our justice system, our legal process. There’s been a push in recent years, going back maybe half a decade or so toward decriminalization, decarceration, etc. and we’re releasing inmates early. We are going to a no bail situation. Allowing people who have bad intent to remain out on the street, that to me is a problem.”– Council Member Pat Hume
“I think we’ve seen that, and it has unfortunately cost some people their lives, which you would think is preventable. They were in the system and we allowed them to come (out). I think we have to be honest, we are a nation of laws. We uphold the rule of law because it’s there for a reason. If you are not acting in a benefit to society, there are consequences to that, and respect that. That’s the first thing.”
If You Break the Law There is a Consequence
Hume also gave us his thoughts on current laws and legislation, and disagrees with how some offenses are now considered misdemeanors:
“The second thing that’s going on right now are the smash and grabs, and the increase in car break-ins. People seem to be acting with impunity. They know they’re not going to get caught. I think it goes back to some of the legislation that’s come down. We’ve taken some serious offenses like grand theft, stealing firearms, assault, domestic violence, etc, and we’ve said those things are now misdemeanors. You’re issued a ticket, and told to show up in court so you can pay a fine. That’s a problem to me.
“I don’t support police brutality or anything where the first step is a confrontational situation, but I do support the idea that if you break the law there is a consequence to that. There should be a deterrent for the next person who may look to that. If they see you get away with it, if you walk into a store and walk right out and the store goes, “Look, I’ve got insurance. I’m not going to intervene because it’s not worth it.” There’s a devaluation of human life and what existing in a civil society looks like.”
“With the eyes wide open admittance and acceptance that the system has not always been applied equitably and fairly – that’s a piece of it too. Have we been harder on certain communities than we have on others? Or is the system set up to where the wealthier are given a different set of standards than those who can’t? I understand that there’s a reckoning to be had, but we shouldn’t tear the whole system down… you don’t burn the house down because you’re infested with rats.”
Pedestrians and Cyclists
Hume is no stranger when it comes to public transit and transportation methods. When we asked him about safer roads for pedestrians and cyclists, he envisions an off-road network of trails and paths:
“The first priority would be to provide an off-roadway network of trails and paths that allow pedestrians and cyclists to move around and not necessarily have to be right up against vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed – That’s the primary goal and that’s the ultimate.”-Council Member Pat Hume
“If you can do that, that’s the best solution. But then some of the other things as we’re saying, you can do a lot with … Here in Elk Grove we’ve painted green onto the streets just to make motorists aware of the fact that that’s a bike lane.
“I know in downtown Sacramento and other municipalities, they have now separated the parking away from the curb so that the bikes can run between parked cars and the sidewalk, and away from the actual traffic. There’s things that you can do to physically separate the uses. But the biggest thing is we really need to be a little more mindful when we’re driving in our cars. The fact that people pass when they’re not supposed to, and they’re in such a hurry, I mean, that’s really more of just an opinion, but we need to slow down and be a little kinder, and gentler as we’re driving around.”
Working More Cooperatively and Collaboratively
Hume’s ideologies may sound unconventional to some, however, throughout our interview he consistently underscored the value of thinking outside of the box, especially when it comes to meeting the needs of the people. In the next four years, this is what he envisions for Sacramento County:
“The number one thing that I’d like to accomplish that’s important to me, is breaking loose some of the cartilage that has built up within the county over the last decades.”– Council Member Pat Hume
“The idea that this is the way we’ve always done it, and so that’s the best way to do it – I want to try and break down some of the silos so that the organization as a whole works more cooperatively and collaboratively to accomplish the goals. At the end of the day, every dollar that is expended through the county originated from us. So how do we do the business of the people more effectively and more efficiently? And maybe make the same pool of money stretch further? That’s the number one goal, which may not resonate with a lot of people. More specifically to District 5 is really standing up for representing and protecting the fragile communities in the unincorporated area that don’t have another layer of representation.”
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