Counting Time

Serna’s back, but other county seats await voters

By Howard Schmidt
June 2022

Primary voting by mail in Sacramento County is underway and ballots can be cast at Vote Center locations through June 7 when the polls close. Two candidates already know they’re winners. Others must wait for the final tabulation.

County Assessor Christina Wynn and Supervisor Phil Serna drew no opponents, so neither needed to campaign.

Serna hasn’t faced an election battle since his maiden run to succeed Roger Dickinson in 2010, and that race brought token opposition. We can ponder whether Serna will try to move up the political ladder, though history has not favored candidates from the county’s first district.

Dickinson didn’t advance to the state Assembly until his third try. He lost to Dr. Richard Pan when the two fought to succeed retiring state Sen. Darrell Steinberg. The more likely scenario for Serna is to run for mayor of Sacramento when Steinberg steps down in 2024. Serna’s late father Joe was mayor from 1993 to 1999.

Supervisor Patrick Kennedy was not as lucky seeking his third term. His previous campaigns had minor opposition, but today he faces an organized contestant in public policy associate Duke Cooney, who offers a progressive choice for police accountability, economic justice and climate change action.

Kennedy’s low-key performance has been criticized by media observers, homeless activists and social justice advocates.
Because most of Kennedy’s second district is in the city of Sacramento (including Land Park, Hollywood Park, Greenhaven and Pocket), voters tend to focus on what occurs at City Hall, not the Board of Supervisors. But Kennedy scored points on several activist issues.

He supported erecting 100 tiny homes in South Sacramento for the homeless, and persuaded the Board of Supervisors to ban the sale of flavored tobacco in the unincorporated area, a move the city of Sacramento made years ago.

Kennedy also complained about how the board drew new supervisor district lines for this election, proclaiming he would submit a proposal to have the process done by an independent commission in 2031. So far, he’s put nothing forward.

Kennedy supported the creation of a community advisory commission to deal with citizen concerns about the Sheriff’s Department and voted to declare racism a public health emergency.

Whether those activist stands secure enough votes for another term won’t be known until the ballots are counted.

Supervisor Don Nottoli is retiring, creating an opening for a swing vote. While the board is less conservative than in the past, Nottoli has been the bridge between moderate and more progressive approaches on issues such as development, law enforcement budgets, labor relations and social service funding.

Four candidates want to succeed him. If none receives a majority in June, the top two meet in November.

Elk Grove City Council member Pat Hume has Nottoli’s endorsement, plus law enforcement support. Opposing Hume is former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly, who was accused of harassing rivals during his unsuccessful 2020 mayoral re-election race.

Serna endorsed Cosumnes Community Services District Board Member Jacklyn Moreno. She has support from organized labor, Steinberg and Sacramento City Council members Katie Valenzuela and Mai Vang. The other candidate is Alex Joe, former trustee of the Elk Grove Unified School District.

Hume’s election would moderate the Board of Supervisors while Serna’s progressive agenda would gain with Moreno.

Howard Schmidt worked on federal, state and local levels of government, including 16 years for Sacramento County. He can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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