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Two sitting Sacramento-area councilmen died Thursday morning

Rancho Cordova Councilman Dan Skoglund, left, and Citrus Heights Councilman Mel Turner both died Thursday. Assemblyman Ken Cooley, who served with Skoglund on the Rancho Cordova council, spoke Thursday on the Assembly floor about their deaths.
Rancho Cordova Councilman Dan Skoglund, left, and Citrus Heights Councilman Mel Turner both died Thursday. Assemblyman Ken Cooley, who served with Skoglund on the Rancho Cordova council, spoke Thursday on the Assembly floor about their deaths.

Citrus Heights Councilman Melvin Turner and Rancho Cordova Councilman Dan Skoglund died Thursday morning in a sudden loss to the cities they served for years, including terms as mayor.

Turner, 67, died early Thursday after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer, Citrus Heights officials said. Skoglund, 66, died unexpectedly Thursday morning due to complications from a recent surgery, according to the city of Rancho Cordova.

Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, informed colleagues of the deaths on the Assembly floor Thursday.

“I am reminded today that life is fleeting,” Cooley said.

Turner was elected to the council in 2010 and served as mayor in 2014. Prior to that, he served on the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department advisory board and on the city’s planning commission. Citrus Heights Mayor Jeff Slowey said he was among those who encouraged Turner to run for council.

“He had a good head on his shoulders,” Slowey said. “Mel was a people person. If we ever had a tough issue, he would always bring us back to the reality of: This is about people; this is about constituents. He would remind us of that if we were getting too caught up in the policies and procedures side of things.”

Turner set up a celebration of life ceremony for himself in January in Citrus Heights, Slowey said, knowing his death was imminent.

“It was well-attended, and he did things his way,” Slowey said. He said Turner died peacefully at home surrounded by his family.

Former Citrus Heights councilwoman and current Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost attributed her local political career to Turner.

“In 2012 he approached me and asked if I would consider running (for city council),” she said. “Before that I never even thought of myself as a public servant. He saw something in me that I didn’t even see.”

She said Turner worked to ensure future generations would be engaged in local politics by starting a program for high school students to shadow council members and city staff. He was a beloved member of the community who was kind, committed and fair, she said.

“He’ll live on in our hearts,” she said.

Prior to his council tenure, Turner worked in law enforcement administration in San Mateo County and for the state of California. He moved to Citrus Heights with his wife, Connie, in 1980 and they raised two children in the city, according to his council biography. He is survived by his wife, children and five grandchildren.

Skoglund was appointed to the Rancho Cordova City Council in 2004 following the death of a sitting councilman. He was elected three times after that, most recently in 2014. He served as mayor in 2009 and 2014.

Rancho Cordova Councilwoman Linda Budge said she’s known Skoglund for more than three decades – so long that she doesn’t remember when they met. He had lived in Rancho Cordova since 1975 and was heavily involved in the city’s Rotary Club and the Cordova Community Council. Prior to his council appointment, he was on the planning commission.

“From a council standpoint, Dan was a great fiscal steward,” Budge said. He questioned expenditures that didn’t make sense to him and wanted to make sure the city got good returns on investments, she said.

“He was a man of many stories” from his work as a relocation consultant for California Moving Systems, Budge said. “He could tell you stories about different people who moved from here to there and the things they had in their houses.”

Skoglund was a quiet man who never hesitated to be honest and candid when he felt there was a wrong that needed to be corrected and was tenacious about the issues he felt were most important, she said.

He wanted to put neighborhoods first and was often “making sure that the perspective of your neighbor next door did not get forgotten in public conversations,” she said.

Budge said Skoglund was a family man and guessed that some of his proudest accomplishments were his two sons and his grandson. He is survived by them, his wife Pamela, and his mother.

Both Skoglund and Turner were serving four-year council terms through December 2018.

“(Skoglund and Turner) were outstanding, devoted public servants,” Cooley said. “In both communities, the fabric of the community has lost an important thread that bound it together.”

Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison

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