By Planning Commissioner Mackenzie Wieser, Elk Grove Planning Commission
Below is my story of some of my experiences with being ignored and of being Steve’s political PAWN. My reputation has suffered as I was led to believe that Mayor Ly stood for making the kind of change we need in Elk Grove.
I stand with all the brave and confident women who have used their voices to speak up about their treatment by Mayor Steve Ly. Although I did not come out at first with the women, it was not because I didn’t believe them, it was because I too have similar experiences in dealing with Mayor Ly.
When I heard that there was a vacancy on the City of Elk Grove Planning Commission, I decided that this was where I could make the most difference in our community. I wanted to help our city grow in the most sustainable way. At the time I was a Governor’s Office Appointee, working on climate policy and helping cities across California navigate the General Planning Guidelines required by the State. I applied, then reached out to speak with all the Council Members. I wanted to meet and share with them why I wanted to be a Planning Commissioner. Each Council Member took the time to meet with me and all were highly impressed with my background and knowledge of planning and CEQA.
At the time the Council District 4 seat was vacant and applications were in-hand for that seat already. The deadline had passed. Yet Mayor Ly told me when we met that I should apply for the Council seat instead of the Planning Commission. I told him that I didn’t desire to be a Council Member just yet. I would like to start with the Planning Commission for now. As I have 3 young children, being a Council Member might be more than I could handle at the time. He insisted that I put my name and application in and although the deadline had passed for that seat, he would still like to pull my name into that race.
I felt it was sneaky and not at all acting within my character to have the rules bent for me. Mayor Ly insisted he was going to bring this up at the Council meeting when appointments were going to be made. Because I didn’t agree with this, I made sure to call each of the Council Members back and let them know what Steve had planned and let them know that I was not interested in the Council seat at this time. It was clear to me that the front runner for the seat was Stephanie Nguyen, who was Mayor Ly’s former boss and he did not want to share the dais with her.
The night of my appointment was extremely awkward because I knew I was not Mayor Ly’s first choice. He wanted to pay a favor forward to someone who helped him with his School Board campaign (Marlon Hill, I believe). That was very clear. Once the Council didn’t agree, he then tried to pick many other names for the seat that was not me. The other Council Members determined that I would be the best person for the spot and forced Ly’s hand.
I was appointed in February 2017, yet I didn’t speak with Mayor Ly until well after the 2018 election. He literally did not speak with me even once. Often at city events, he made mention of every other Planning Commissioner in attendance and literally skipped me as he named names. I was often standing or sitting next to my fellow Commissioners, yet at the end of the event, he would take a second to apologize for leaving me out of his credits. I endorsed and campaigned heavily with Darren Suen, Pat Hume, and Stephanie Nguyen for the 2018 election, all while working hard for the City to bring about a solid general plan update and a Climate Action Plan that we could be proud of.
Post-2018 election, I was told that maybe Mayor Ly and I were closer on many policy items than I had once thought. I should try to reconcile with him. So, I reached out to him and we met. We have spent the past two years getting to know each other and there are many policies in which we align. Elk Grove was knee-deep into developing a Climate Action Plan that was just barely scratching the surface. The measures within it were bare minimum efforts that the City should do to make no impact on our carbon footprint.
At that time, I spoke out loud and clear that we didn’t do enough as a city to address our growth in relation to climate change. It was at this time that he suggested that I represent the City of Elk Grove on the Mayors of Sacramento’s and West Sacramento’s Climate Commission. This was a very visible commission of leaders from across the region with over 20 commissioners working to bring the region to carbon net-zero by 2045. I was delighted by the honor of course.
However, I knew it was a political play to elevate me as a pawn, instead of asking Councilman Suen or Councilwoman Nguyen to represent our great city. Not to mention that after 18 months of time and effort put into this project, Mayor Ly never asked me to report to the Council about the work. He never asked to see a copy of the final report and in no way planned to ever have Elk Grove elevated as a player on the important topic of climate change. It was just a play he made against elevating our city to where we should be while taking a poke at his fellow Council Members.
I have felt that the Mayor is still trying to propel himself to the next level and that this drives him more than his desire to work in the best interest of the city. Not to mention making me the political pawn during this time, shame on me for playing into his hand, but shame on him for thinking he could use me to do so.
There are many issues with the highest office in this city. Many of those issues come from the money that has been funneled into Elk Grove. I have high hopes that under the direction of Bobbie Singh-Allen the City Council of Elk Grove can finally start working together on projects that will elevate the good of the whole. Together we can begin building a path towards helping our great city reach a better standard of health and happiness while looking at how and where we grow. Our great city should strive to align with Sacramento and West Sacramento and work towards carbon net-zero by 2045, all while increasing the interconnectedness of the east and west sides of Elk Grove.
My Support For Bobbie Singh-Allen
I know that under the leadership of Bobbie we stand a chance! I will stand next to her all the way to the polls on November 3rd. She is a woman of the utmost integrity. She lifts communities who need it the most, and she does not stand for inequality! Thank you, Bobbie, for entering this race so that I could finally share my story about how Mayor Ly has treated me over the last three years. My only regret in this is that I did not speak up sooner! Here’s to becoming the city I know Elk Grove wants to be, a city built on integrity and values to be proud of.