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Sacramento mayoral race kicks off | Flojaune Cofer first to announce her candidacy

Public health policy expert Flojaune Cofer announced Wednesday she is running for mayor of Sacramento, making her the first candidate to declare.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Let the 2024 race for Sacramento mayor begin.

On Wednesday afternoon, Flojaune Cofer announced she’s throwing her hat in the ring.

Cofer is a public health expert, senior policy director, and former chair of the city’s Measure U Community Advisory Committee.

She spoke Wednesday about the importance of affordable housing, clean air and water, homelessness solutions, including a multitude of voices in the city’s decision-making process, and tackling gun violence, among other topics.

“City Hall has a responsibility to ensure safe and affordable shelter, job opportunities, and safety to everyone who lives here,” Cofer said. “I am running for mayor because it breaks my heart to watch our neighbors suffer when we have the resources to care for them. More is possible.”

Cofer said she is offering a “progressive choice,” with ideas such as creating a public bank to help fund affordable housing initiatives and creating a hub for jobs in the sustainability sector.

Asked how she would combat "NIMBYism," the not-in-my-backyard opposition to homelessness solutions, Cofer said some voices need to be elevated in the conversation.

"Right now, you know, homeowners are in many ways the primary voice that we're listening to. And it doesn't mean they're not important, but what it does mean is that we also need to be valuing our unhoused neighbors and thinking about what they need," Cofer said. "Part of that includes listening to everyone and thinking about what our solutions are. But we also need to be funding affordable housing...Let's put some real dollars into it. Let's get everybody in the community fired up for how we're going to do this."

She said there are groups from whom she will not accept campaign contributions.

"The groups I won't take money from our corporate PACs, law enforcement, fossil fuels, tobacco - because they killed my family members,” Cofer said. “And then, when it comes to real estate and landlords and developers, I will only take money if they support affordable housing, if they support tenant protections and anti-displacement initiatives."

She shared during Wednesday’s announcement outside Sacramento City Hall how her father died of congestive heart failure when she was 11, at the age of 47.

“My father smoked Newport cigarettes, starting the habit at a time when tobacco companies lied about the known harms and heavily marketed to Black communities,” she said. “When he was young, he also worked in steel mills with his father and in buildings with disturbed asbestos. Like many other my mother's, my father's age, his premature death was likely preventable - had policies throughout his life protected him.”

Cofer is the first candidate this election cycle to officially declare she’s running for mayor of Sacramento. If she wins, she would also be the first Black woman to serve in the role.

Voters will weigh in at next year’s primary election in March.

Current Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s term ends at the end of 2024. He has told ABC10 in the past he will not seek a third term.

ABC10 reached out to Steinberg’s office on Wednesday for comment and asked if he plans on running. A spokesperson said they have no announcement at this time.

Cofer, known as “Dr. Flo,” has lived in Sacramento for 15 years. She grew up in Pittsburgh, Penn. and moved to California to serve in a fellowship at the California Department of Public Health before working for Public Health Advocates in a policy role.

Watch: California Public Safety lawmaker sidelines all fentanyl-related bills

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