Learn more about local races and get a personalized ballot in CapRadio's 2022 Sacramento Primary Voter Guide.
The Sacramento City Council is going to be unrecognizable after this year’s elections, as three of the eight districts will have a new representative. One other seat may be vacant come November, if city councilmember Eric Guerra wins his bid for state assembly.
With longtime City Councilmember Jay Schenirer not running for reelection, District 5 is one of them. The district spans neighborhoods like Oak Park and Hollywood Park down to the Parkways and Valley Hi in South Sacramento.
Before redistricting, it also included Curtis Park, one of the city’s wealthiest neighborhoods. The redistricting process happens every 10 years and sets City Council boundaries for the next decade.
Many of the neighborhoods in the district — and specifically the historically Black Oak Park neighborhood — are seeing longtime residents displaced through gentrification, rising housing costs, and the recent pandemic-induced influx of Bay Area residents moving to neighborhoods close to the central city.
Residents in Oak Park and surrounding neighborhoods fear that will only worsen after UC Davis completes its billion dollar science and tech hub, called Aggie Square, which is slated to bring thousands of jobs to the area and give Sacramento an economic boost.
There are four candidates running to represent the district:
- Caity Maple, a director of the homeless advocacy nonprofit Solidarity of Unhoused People. Maple, who lives in Oak Park, spent years working as a legislative analyst for progressive nonprofits and later the legal cannabis industry.
- Chris Baker, a retired grocery store manager who has spent time volunteering on various city commissions and mentoring at-risk youth. Baker lives in the very southern end of the district, in a neighborhood that was part of District 8 before redistricting.
- Kimberly Sow, an administrative assistant who has lived in Oak Park for nearly a decade.
- Tamiko Heim, a 20-year state worker who currently serves as the District 5 representative on the city’s Active Transportation Commission. The lifelong Sacramentan lives in North City Farms.
Below are a selection of questions CapRadio’s Randol White asked candidates Caity Maple and Tamiko Heim about their campaigns. Requests by CapRadio to interview candidate Chris Baker went unanswered.
Editor’s note: There are many Sacramento area candidates this election, and CapRadio does not have capacity to interview all of them. We made choices to interview candidates based on a variety of factors, including: a candidate's digital and online presence, their mission and commitment to the electoral process, political fundraising and endorsements, among other factors.
On what the biggest issue is affecting the district
Caity Maple: No matter who I talk to, what event I go to, I've now knocked on thousands of doors in the last few months — I'm out every single day — so I'm talking to voters every day, and the No. 1 thing is homelessness. It's impacting everyone … I realize that the No. 1 driver behind our massive increase in homelessness, especially the last couple of years, is our housing affordability crisis. We do not have enough affordable housing, we do not have enough supply relative to demand, and we're seeing entire swaths of people ending up on the streets. Many of them are working — they're families that are sleeping in their cars and they just can't find somewhere to live that they can afford. I think it's our responsibility as government to help make that happen and focus on affordable housing and low income housing. And that, to me, directly relates to the No. 1 and 2 issues: homelessness and housing.
Tamiko Heim: I think one of the top concerns for me is economic inclusion, because of the way the district was cut up with the latest redistricting. I really want to hone in on how to make sure my neighbors are okay. Like make sure they have that economic stability that they need, bring programs to the area, bring homes to the area that they can afford, and also bring homes to the area they can rent and purchase. You know, I'm just really all about giving a voice to my community, my neighbors and my friends.
On gentrification and limiting continued displacement of longtime residents
Caity Maple: The first thing I think we need to do is really make sure that we beef up our tenant protections. People should be able to stay in their homes. If you've lived in this neighborhood for 20, 30, 40 years, like many of my neighbors have, and your landlord is deciding to sell because they think that they can make more money or rent it out for a higher price, we need to make sure that people can stay. And so I think that means things like just-cause evictions, you must have a good reason to kick someone out … I'm also looking at really interesting ways that we can combat what I would call speculative home buying, which is a huge component of why housing prices are skyrocketing in this neighborhood. Basically investors are coming in, they're taking these houses, they're buying them and they're flipping them within a matter of months and selling them for twice the price. That's raising the prices everywhere and it's making it completely unaffordable for people.
Tamiko Heim: So I want to make sure that people understand, it's just not it's not just Oak Park that people are being displaced. You know, there's North City Farms that people are being displaced. There's all sorts of sections in the city, in the district, that people are being displaced. But, yes, you can see it vividly in Oak Park. And I just want to hone in on things, or create more spaces like the Aggie Square displacement fund that they have. Figure out ways to make sure that people are able to keep what they have, stay where they are, whether that is figuring out ways how to get them better jobs or bring in programs that help them upskill themselves, or whether it is just opening their minds to maybe home ownership. Sometimes we just don't have that communication open. They just don't understand that that's available to them.
On transforming transportation throughout District 5
Caity Maple: I'm really focused on that increase in public transit. So finding ways to have the light rail coming through parts of the south area. So if you have Parkway, for example, or you're in Hollywood Park or you're in North City Farms and South City Farms, ensuring that you have quality public transportation that's going from those areas to the urban core and beyond. I see that as an economic driver. Right now, you have a bunch of people sitting in traffic that are driving by your businesses, and what if you had more walkability and bike mobility and public transit that not only could reduce the amount of emissions that are in the environment and create safer spaces for people, but are also allowing them to walk through and bike through and get dropped off in front of all of these … I think about neighborhoods like Oak Park and Curtis Park, and we see a tale of two neighborhoods in terms of health outcomes, wealth, demographics, schools. And part of that is because of redlining, part of that is because of the construction of the freeway systems through it. So I think about what if you could cap that and you had parks on top and you had places where people could have coffee shops and other retail, and then you're connecting these two neighborhoods and allowing a space for people and children to walk through safely to get to the schools that they need to go to. And on top of that, you're not seeing the emissions from the freeway.
Tamiko Heim: I've been the active transportation commissioner for the last three years, and that's been one of my goals is to make sure that we're connected as a district. And because the district has changed, I have to look at connectivity a little differently along those lines. But even still, I'm even more focused on that connectivity piece because there are pieces in the district that don't have sidewalks. There are pieces in the district that need those high blinking crosswalks because we have some very busy streets. Vision Zero is one of those things on Stockton Boulevard that is going to happen. We've gotten portions of that funding through the Aggie Square project. We're going to be redesigning Franklin Boulevard as well because of its high car ratio. So we're going to take that down from four lanes to two lanes, add in those bike lanes because there are a lot of bikers in this area and they need to feel safe to get around. The only way we can sustain this walkability and bikeability is if we make it that way. And so I will champion projects like that because of that active transportation role that I played in the district for the last three years.
On their plan to help people impacted by homelessness
Caity Maple: I'll be really frank — the city of Sacramento goes above and beyond right now what they're required to do by law and also what we have funding to do. And there's no way right now with our current resources that we are going to be able to address the scale of the problem … In my former job I traveled around to different cities and counties and … I found a really cool model just north of us in the city of Marysville. Of course, the scale is different, I acknowledge that, but I think this is a scalable solution. They've created what's called the Sutter Yuba Homeless Consortium. So it's a collection of two counties, I believe five cities, school districts, nonprofits, small businesses, hospitals, and they meet regularly. They created a five-year strategic action plan on how to address their problem … If we had the county of Sacramento, Yolo County, West Sacramento, Elk Grove, Citrus Heights and city of Sac, imagine what resources we'd have available and what we could do if we created a strategic action plan and we're able to use all the resources that we had available to us. That's what I want to see.
Tamiko Heim: My plan is one of those things that is some of the things that are out there that are being done, but just continue to do it in a different way, which is include other partners, right? We need to include the county, we need to include the businesses and we need to include nonprofits. I think sometimes we get to working at this in silos and we burn ourselves out, burn other people out and create trauma for ourselves or for others when we really should be working together. So my goal will be to create those bridges so that we can all work together and work efficiently. But my idea, of course, is to provide some type of housing, some type of settlement, and to provide wraparound services.
On reforming the Sacramento Police Department and ‘defund the police’
Caity Maple: So I don't use the term defund the police. I believe that we have to resource the police to do their jobs. They're really great at responding to crime. We need that. There's been a there's been a very large influx of some crimes and … that’s really concerning to me. But I do believe that we need to also invest in prevention, and we need to make sure that our budgets reflect an investment in prevention, which, frankly, we don't currently do at the level that's needed. And we're not ever going to address the root of the problem if we don't do that. I think there's a few different routes. One is many of these crimes are crimes of poverty … We need to take a look at ensuring that we're actually providing the things that people need, like food security, making sure people have good jobs so they're not in poverty and they're not seeking out a way to better their lives through something like a gang because they don't have economic opportunities … A commitment that I've made to many of these groups that I've talked to over the last several months that are also very concerned about gang violence and gun violence, is that we need to invest back into them. They're already doing really good work. They've shown success. So I think that we need to make a commitment as a city through some of our funding to invest back in those programs.
Tamiko Heim: I want to be the bridge between the police and the communities that look like me or have those same experiences like me, to be able to have those real conversations and create healing. We have police, we're going to have police, and we definitely need reform in many ways. But we also need to work in the system that we have so that we can make sure that it is a better system tomorrow … Defunding is a polarizing word that doesn't really speak to the heart of what we want, and that is reform. And so the reform that we want to see is mental health units in which the PD has developed. We want to see those community police officers. We want to see police officers having real working relationships with the community. My aunt was a [sheriff’s deputy] ... She created space for herself to give back to the community. And my dad, who is my stepdad, was a correctional officer. He created space for himself to work with young men to make sure he didn't see more young men looking like him going into the correctional facilities. So I feel that we need to see more police who have those opportunities that want to do things like that. And so I just feel that I'm in the right space to be that bridge to help both sides in this situation.
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