New Faces

Council changes cut mayor’s power

By R.E. Graswich
December 2020

In his failed bid to become strong mayor, Darrell Steinberg may have lost his ability to command majority support on the Sacramento City Council.

The council expects three new members to arrive in December. None of the newcomers received support from Steinberg. Two veteran members—Jeff Harris and Angelique Ashby—have histories of opposing the mayor.

Mai Vang, a Sacramento City Unified School District board member and youth advocate, won a narrow victory in the District 8 seat vacated by Larry Carr, who is retiring from the council.

Vang held a lead of about 250 votes over Les Simmons, a pastor at South Sacramento Christian Center. The November race drew a robust turnout of around 9,000 votes across Meadowview and North Laguna.

“I’m nervous but super excited and I’m so proud of our team,” Vang said as votes were being counted. “The fact that there was a historic turnout in District 8, I think that’s something we should all celebrate.”

Vang, the daughter of Hmong refugees, was supported by councilmembers Carr, Ashby, Allen Warren and incoming member Katie Valenzuela, who defeated District 4 incumbent Steve Hansen in the March primary.

Warren lost his District 2 seat in a November runoff with Sean Loloee, an entrepreneur who operates Viva Supermarkets in North Sacramento, Del Paso Heights, Rancho Cordova and Dixon.

Warren and Carr served as politically independent councilmembers who sometimes supported Steinberg, but also voted against him. Both opposed the strong mayor initiative, along with Harris, who represents District 3.

The remaining councilmembers—Jay Schenirer, Rick Jennings and Eric Guerra—are aligned with Steinberg. Ashby, who ran against Steinberg for mayor in 2016, is expected to battle Guerra for a state Senate seat in 2022.

The strong mayor initiative, Measure A, was rejected by 57 percent of city voters—the same number that turned down a similar proposal from Mayor Kevin Johnson in 2014.

R.E. Graswich can be reached at

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