Ly wins competitive Elk Grove City Council race

Steve Ly pledged to attract health care and green-energy employers.
Steve Ly pledged to attract health care and green-energy employers.

Steve Ly is Elk Grove’s newest councilman after defeating planning commissioner Nancy Chaires in a competitive race for the city’s District 4 seat.

Ly garnered nearly 43percent of the vote, winning the majority of the district’s 116 precincts and outdistancing Chaires’ 37percent. The two candidates came with strong political credentials and battled each other tough in the four-way contest.

Ly, 40, had pledged to attract health care and green-energy employers by offering rebates and incentives and said he would seek to right an imbalance between housing and jobs in Sacramento County’s second-largest city.

An Elk Grove Unified School District trustee, Ly said Wednesday he plans to “do everything possible to bring jobs to Elk Grove. That’s the top priority. That’s what I’m going to look forward to.”

Chaires conceded Wednesday, saying in a statement she was “very proud of the honest and strong campaign” she ran with its theme of “integrity, accountability and respect.”

She added that she looked forward to continuing her work as chair of Elk Grove’s Planning Commission “to bring about economic development and to preserve our great quality of life.”

Ly and Chaires emerged as the frontrunners after cranking up their campaign machines months ago, building sizable war chests and scooping up a slew of prized endorsements.

Chaires had support from the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 8 and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who defeated Marshall Tuck in Tuesday’s election to retain his post.

Ly won the support of the California Hmong PAC, industry group Region Builders and Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis.

By Election Day, Ly and Chaires had high visibility, their campaign placards blanketing street corners, intersections and offramps across the city, both staking their campaigns on drawing more business and jobs to this bedroom community of 160,000.

Chaires, 35, said the city should focus job-creation efforts on its growing health care and education sectors, calling economic development the city’s “most important issue long-term.”

On Wednesday, Davis said he looks forward to working alongside Ly.

“Steve brings a depth of experience and diversity of experience different than the rest of council,” the mayor said. “His ideas for (solving the) jobs imbalance are 100percent in line with the city’s vision and he brings positive energy to that end.”

In a statement apparently directed at Ly and Assemblyman-elect and Elk Grove Vice Mayor Jim Cooper, Chaires said, “It is my sincere hope that those elected will commit to putting the needs of Elk Grove first, and will bring stability to the council by serving a complete term.”

Cooper, with his apparent Assembly victory over fellow Democrat Darrell Fong, will vacate his Laguna-area council seat. Ly is expected to vacate the Elk Grove Unified School District board in January, two years before his term ends.

The City Council is likely to discuss options to fill Cooper’s seat at its next meeting, said Elk Grove City Clerk Jason Lindgren. Davis said Wednesday he favored appointing a new council member to serve the remainder of Cooper’s term rather than calling a special election.

In District 4, small-business owner Daniel Jimenez placed a distant third with nearly 17percent, while Nayyar Sarfaraz, a West Sacramento technology worker, was fourth with 3percent.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916)321-1040.