SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela announced Tuesday she is seeking re-election for her District 4 seat.
That’s when the re-drawn District 4 boundaries will go into effect. It includes Downtown, Midtown and the W-X and Broadway corridor, plus – new to District 4 – East Sacramento. It will no longer include parts of Land Park.
Tuesday’s announcement comes about a month after Phil Pluckebaum announced he is running for Valenzuela’s seat. Pluckebaum works as a project manager at UC Davis Health and served for eight years on the city’s Planning and Design Commission.
The election isn’t until 2024, but ABC10 wanted to talk with both candidates about their vision for Sacramento’s future and how they’d like the city to address the area’s most pressing issues.
On the topic of affordable housing, they had this to say.
“My main focus, moving forward, is going to be on affordable housing,” Valenzuela said. “We have thousands of people on the streets and in shelters who have income. Either they have vouchers, they have Social Security, they're working a minimum wage job -- and they can't find places to go. And then we have thousands of people behind them, potentially…who are struggling to make ends meet, who are housed today, who might become unhoused tomorrow."
“My answer on housing is clear: the city of Sacramento is way behind in meeting its housing production goals,” Pluckebaum said. “We need to, as a city and a region, build like our lives depend on it, because they do: for our future, for our children, for the affordability of the region. We need to catch up to the kind of housing starts that we had 20 years ago."
When asked about homelessness, Pluckebaum referenced the formal agreement the city and county entered into back in December to coordinate their efforts in addressing the crisis.
"This is an area where I'm really happy to have the support of (Sacramento) County Supervisors Serna, Kennedy and Desmond. I think that the partnership between the city and the county can only get stronger. And in doing that, we can work to provide better services for folks experiencing homelessness," said Pluckebaum. "From my point of view, the city's responsibility stops at the public health boundary, right? The city is not a public health entity and should be responsible for code enforcement, law enforcement, providing housing, but working with our partners in public health to provide those services that are needed for folks experiencing addiction, mental health crisis and other ailments. So that's where I'm looking to strengthen, that relationship, and provide more services."
Valenzuela referenced the Miller Park Safeground site, which re-opened earlier this month with trailers that had previously been used for quarantine housing during the pandemic.
"Since Miller Park reopened, in just a couple of short days, we had 18 people in those trailers...13 of which, I think, came straight from the W-X corridor. The other five came from the central city. So we're really finding that if we have options available for folks, our teams are learning how to work with businesses and work with these encampments to get people into services," said Valenzuela. "What we're finding is, we've actually almost quadrupled the successful exit rate for chronically unhoused people, and I don't know exactly what the magic is in that, but something about giving people a stable place to sleep, giving them that security, some meals and basic sanitation -- those caseworkers are figuring out how to move them to the next step at a way higher rate of success, which is fantastic."
ABC10 has also been reporting on retail theft and other crimes that have caused businesses to shutter and people to feel concerned, so we asked each candidate about that too.
"I know what it feels like to not feel safe, and it really does break my heart whenever I hear from residents and businesses who say they don't feel safe and their employees don't feel safe," said Valenzuela. "When we look at the driving forces behind these crimes, the things that work: gun violence prevention, youth intervention, mental health services, substance abuse services...I'm really proud that the council has really looked at what public safety means more broadly, to include these other programs, because the data shows us that when we invest in those things, crime does go down in communities."
While Pluckebaum agrees that investments in preventive services are valuable, his answer focused more on targeting crime.
"Any time we have folks choosing to break the law, we need to have adequate law enforcement that's responsive and appropriate, able to respond timely and prosecute those crimes," said Pluckebaum. "We're seeing retailers taking a hands-off approach to that kind of retail theft, and I understand why. As a city and as a society, we need to figure out how to establish those norms and boundaries again and say that kind of behavior is unacceptable and enforce appropriately."
Both candidates say they’re optimistic about Sacramento’s future.
"I think economic development is a big opportunity for the city," said Pluckebaum. "We've talked about being, City of Trees, City of Festivals, Farm-to-Fork. As a region, one of the things that we need to do is figure out how to continue to build on the momentum that our Visitor and Convention Center Bureau has built and really escalate that economic opportunity that we have as a city."
"It really feels like the best days are ahead of us, and I really want to help be a part of that," said Valenzuela.
Pluckebaum says he’s been preparing for a city council run for about decade and was planning to vie for Jeff Harris’ seat once Harris retired from council. However with redistricting, Pluckebaum now finds himself living in Valenzuela’s district.
"Being thrown together in the same district with Katie was never part of the plan. Sort of unfortunate, but it's just where I find myself at this point," said Pluckebaum. "I don't really view this as a race, the two of us against each other. I view this as both of us running at the same time in the same district. Strong advocates for the community that both have different points of view on different things, but two viable options, I think, that the voter should get to consider.”
Voters will get to consider it in about a year. California's 2024 primary elections are March 5.