Sacramento Bee: Longtime Sacramento councilwoman running for state Senate in 2022

Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby is running for California state Senate.

Ashby, who has filed paperwork to run for Senator Richard Pan’s seat representing Sacramento in the 2022 primary election, has represented North Natomas on the council since 2010.

“When I first ran for City Council a decade ago, I was told I could not make a difference because I was ‘just a mom,’” Ashby said in a statement to The Sacramento Bee. “But that perspective was exactly what Sacramento needed, and it’s what our state Senate needs too. Our families are facing unprecedented challenges, and I want to build on what I’ve accomplished on the City Council – like establishing youth programs, funding for schools, libraries and community centers, policing reforms, advancing flood control, addressing domestic violence and human sex trafficking and bringing thousands of high-wage jobs to our community.”

In 2016, Ashby ran for mayor and lost to Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

Ashby will likely face a challenge. Other potential candidates for the seat include former Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and City Councilman Eric Guerra.

Amid national protests against police brutality, Ashby has been taking heat recently for her close relationship with Sacramento police. But in her neighborhood, where she is adoringly called the “mayor of Natomas,” she remains popular.

Last year she scored city and school district funding for an Olympic-sized pool and aquatic center there. In 2018, she was a leader in a deal that brought Fortune 500 health care insurer Centene to North Natomas, where it will employ thousands of workers. The only woman on the council, and a former public housing resident, she often focuses on ways to help low-income women and children.

Jones, who did not return a call seeking comment, served as Insurance Commissioner for eight years. Prior to that, he served in the state Assembly and on the City Council. In 2018, Jones ran for attorney general, and lost to Xavier Becerra. He has filed paperwork to run for state controller in 2022.

Guerra, who did not respond to a request for comment, has represented parts of south Sacramento on the council since 2015. No stranger to the Capitol, he has worked for the state legislature for more than 13 years. Guerra came to Sacramento from Mexico as an undocumented immigrant when he was 4 years old. On the council, he has worked to start services that help immigrants, such as a program that uses city money to pay for legal aid for undocumented immigrants.

A strong Steinberg ally, Guerra rarely breaks from the mayor on votes, while Ashby does.

Ashby last year voted against opening a homeless shelter in Meadowview, saying it would be unsafe for women and children. She was outvoted, but the shelter is now set to serve only women. Ashby also sparred with the mayor, and ultimately won, when she pushed for $14.4 million in city money for the long-planned aquatic center. That idea was criticized by some because it could end up using some money from the Measure U sales tax money intended to uplift disadvantaged neighborhoods. While Natomas is not considered an underserved neighborhood, families from all over the city and region will be able to use it, she said.

Because Ashby is up for reelection to the City Council in 2022, running for Senate is a risk. If she loses the Senate race, she will lose her council seat. Unlike Ashby, if Guerra were to run for Pan’s seat and lose, he would not lose his council seat. He was just reelected to his seat this year without facing a serious opponent, and is not up for reelection again until 2024.

Pan, who was elected to the State Assembly in 2010 and to the State Senate in 2014, will be unable to run again due to term limits. A pediatrician, Pan made national headlines last year when he proposed bills to increase oversight of doctors that issue medical exemptions for vaccines to school children.

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