Women Of Elk Grove Say “We Will Not Be Silenced”
A press conference was held in front of Elk Grove City Hall by female elected officials and their allies. The women involved in the conference are EGUSD Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen, EGUSD Trustee Nancy Chaires Espinoza, Cosumnes CSD Director Jaclyn Moreno, Planning Commissioner Mackenzie Wieser, Linda Vwj, and Editor-In-Chief, Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung. The conference was to call on the City Council to censure Mayor Steve Ly and to pass policies meant to protect women and girls from harassment. The press conference was held on the same day that the City Council would vote on the issue.
For The Media
On August 12, prominent female leaders came together to speak about Mayor Steve Ly. These women were Bobbie Singh-Allen, Nancy Chaires-Espinoza, and Jaclyn Moreno. They recounted their experiences with Mayor Steve Ly’s bullying tactics. Standing alongside them were other victims, women who have been targets of Steve Ly and his associates. These women were: Planning Commissioner Mackenzie Weiser Planning Commissioner, Elk Grove Tribune Editor-In-Chief Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung, and Linda Vwj, Mayor Steve Ly’s former campaign manager. Others were allies, men, and women who stood in solidarity for the victims.
Recounts of Mayor Steve Ly’s bullying surfaced when the Elk Grove Tribune ran an op-ed by Linda Vwj, who accused the mayor of unethical tactics to secure his position. Linda Vwj and Dr. Jacqueline Cheung received backlash, in the form of blocked calls and online threats not only to themselves but to their family members. However, recounts from other women came forward. Community leaders EGUSD Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen, EGUSD Trustee Nancy Chaires-Espinoza, Cosumnes CSD Director Jaclyn Moreno, Planning Commissioner Mackenzie Wieser, and former mayoral candidate Michelle Kile had stories to tell about Steve Ly’s bullying. Michelle Kile and Dane San Pedro Newsan both decided to drop out of the mayoral race and endorse Bobbie Singh-Allen.
From Nancy Chaires-Espinoza
“We are gathered here today to take a stand and to say that we are not going to take it anymore. Some of us here will tell our stories of harassment and abuse that we have suffered at the hands of and encouragement of Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly. We want to reiterate to City Council that we want a censure of Mayor Steve Ly.”
From Bobbie Singh-Allen
“We have a bully at City Hall with a long history of abusing his oath of office. He has failed the women in this community and he has failed as Mayor. He lacks human decency, respect, and integrity. We are here today to say enough is enough. We need a Mayor that works for the people and not their own self interest. We need a Mayor that brings communities together. We need a Mayor that is transparent and accountable.
I will not be silenced anymore.
I will defend the rights of others when they are attacked. The attacks on my character increased when I joined local women in denouncing Mr. Ly’s behavior. Last night, he came after me again with his attacks during a school meeting. He sent his associates to attack my character. My 8 years of public service and leadership on the school board and in the community stands for itself. I love Elk Grove and I have worked hard in the last 20 years lifting communities through service. I will stand up and stand strong against the bully Steve Ly.
I have a message for you. I am not afraid.
To the City Council:
Steve Ly must be censured for his repeated patterns of bad behavior. The City Council should investigate through the Grand Jury Steve Ly’s abuse of power.
We are here today to say Enough is Enough to Steve Ly. We have a bully at city hall and his time is up!”
From Jaclyn Moreno
She spoke of the four points she wants the City of Elk Grove to work on. Moreno wants to strengthen the city’s harassment policy. The policy would make elected officials more accountable, while officials would also receive harassment training annually. Officials should also pledge to report acts of harassment. In addition, whistleblowers would also be protected. Furthermore, a reporting and investigation process should exist for employees and residents.
At the moment there is no such reporting process for Elk Grove residents. Ideally, the reporting process could be accessed online. Also, a “third-party compliance hotline” should be created to report cases of discrimination and harassment. Finally, a committee should be made to report on the status of women and girls. This committee would look at domestic violence, homelessness, and human trafficking in the community. Ideally, the City Council would use this information to make policies.
The suggestions put forth by Jaclyn Moreno and advocated by by the six women include:
- Strengthen the city’s harassment policy.
- Create a clear reporting and investigative process for both staff and residents.
- Create a third-party compliance hotline where employees and residents can make reports of harassment.
- Create a city-wide committee on the status of women and girls.
From Dr. Jacqueline “Jax” Cheung
“I’ve been threatened. I’ve had a miscarriage from the stress. I’ve been cussed out in person and my car was egged. We were followed, I’m afraid to go out. I usually go bike riding with my little girls, and we haven’t been able to go out lately.
My life has become surreal. I need to heal and I am hoping our city can heal. Fighting on is hard but I have to fight because at the end of my day, I have 2 little girls. I want to teach them to be strong and to fight for change when you see that something isn’t right. ”
Response to Mayor Ly’s Email
Shortly after the press conference, Singh-Allen, Moreno, Chaires Espinoza, Vwj, and Cheung received an email from Mayor Steve Ly asking to meet up to “move forward and heal.”
Cheung’s response was posted on her Facebook page.
“Mayor Ly, please don’t contact me directly. From now on contact me through my lawyer Thanh Fox. (916) 922-2255. I will meet up with you and the other women who have come forward in my lawyer and my husband’s presence AFTER you name us ALL by name publicly and publicly apologize for everything we have been through including the threats to me and my family, being contacted and intimidated by a Hmong clan, having a miscarriage from the stress, being followed, having my car egged, being cussed out in public, having to hire a bodyguard and having one of your supporters contact an ex-boyfriend from college and offering him $2000 to be paid via Venmo if he would have called into the July City Council meeting to try to smear me!!!
You need to apologize to each woman by name and apologize for your role in everything we have been through! SAY OUR NAMES!! You underestimated me! We will legally and the ethically fight back with THE TRUTH!! I will stand with my sisters Bobbie Singh-Allen for Mayor, Nancy Chaires Espinoza, Jaclyn Moreno, Cosumnes CSD Director, Mackenzie Wieser, and Linda Vwj and WE WILL FIGHT!!”
Here is Nancy Chaires Espinoza’s statement:
I received your meeting request.
I would like nothing more than to “move forward and heal.” But you issued a statement in which you still refuse to take any personal responsibility for the unethical and harassing actions you have directed and/or failed to stop.
Further, you continue to deny the truth of our experiences (as recently as last night to the Elk Grove-South County Democratic Club) in contrast with your published statement in which you state that you do believe us.
I would be happy to meet with you as soon as you accept responsibility and apologize for the years of harassment you have subjected me and my family to.
No healing can take place as long as you continue to be dishonest and gaslight me and your other victims.”
This is Jaclyn Moreno’s statement:
“Hello Mayor Ly,I received your email requesting a meeting. You mention restorative justice in your statement; however, the first step in the restorative justice process is acknowledging the harm that transpired due to your actions or inactions. I have not seen you acknowledge your role in the pain that I endured due to your inaction. I want nothing more than to put this behind me. I don’t need an apology, but the community deserves honesty and accountability. Once you are able to acknowledge your role in this, I would be happy to meet so the restorative justice process can begin.”
“It is hard to believe that you are STILL not acknowledging or taking responsibility for your actions in directly harassing me and other women in our community. We are not calling on you to acknowledge that harassment exists in the abstract, but to acknowledge and change your pattern of behavior that is years-long.
You and your associates spread lies about me last night during my school board meeting. You have called us liars and continue to defame us. Until a real and sincere apology is issued where you own your responsibility and actions, I see no reason to meet.”
Here is Linda Vwj’s statement:
“Steve, I acknowledge receipt of your email.
You and your associates have continued to terrorize me on social media and I expect nothing less tonight at the City Council meeting. Your two public statements show that you are not ready to accept responsibility for the harm that you have caused me. Instead, you continually place blame on other people. Furthermore, you choose to not use your social media platforms to communicate to your supporters to stop the online smear campaign.
I am willing to meet after you publicly, on your social media platforms, acknowledge your involvement and apologize to me. This the first step in restorative justice.”
City Council’s Vote
Tonight the City Council will vote on whether Mayor Steve Ly will be censured. Some of the women that spoke at the conference will be voicing their concerns at the City Council meeting.Now, these women are asking for action from the Elk Grove City Council. They are seeking censure of Mayor Steve Ly and a grand jury investigation.