With snazzy apartment buildings and the architectural wonder known as The Barn springing up along the Sacramento River, there’s no question that West Sacramento’s fortunes are rising. No longer is this Yolo County city known merely for gang violence and seedy motels.
Still, challenges remain for West Sacramento. Whether its newfound fortunes will touch the entire city or remain in the hands of monied families and nomadic young professionals will depend on leadership.
Therefore, we recommend re-electing Vice Mayor Beverly “Babs” Sandeen and voting for political newcomer Quirina Orozco for City Council.
Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, who is running for re-election unopposed, has thrown his support behind both women. Other council members have done the same. Sandeen and Orozco stand out because of their experience and passion for this city of nearly 50,000 people. Planning Commission Chair Martha Guerrero also would be a strong choice.
Sandeen was appointed to the council in 2014 to succeed Oscar Villegas, who became a Yolo County supervisor. Before that, she spent a decade on the Planning Commission, working on many of the projects that are now coming to fruition in The Bridge District along the river.
If re-elected, Sandeen says she’ll continue working to launch projects, including attracting retail and hotels, refurbishing an old pier for public use, shoring up levees and maybe building a conference center.
Homelessness is also on the vice mayor’s radar. She cites the success of the Bridge to Housing Project, which helped dozens of people camping along the river. But more resources need to go toward helping people who rotate in and out of the motels along West Capitol Avenue, never quite getting ahead in life.
Orozco also lists homelessness as a priority, but would collaborate more with Sacramento. A deputy district attorney for Sacramento County, she already has connections. Orozco is new to politics, although she has been endorsed by an array of officials, including Assemblymember Kevin McCarty and Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto. If elected, she would succeed outgoing Councilman Bill Kristof, who has held his seat since West Sacramento incorporated in 1987.
Orozco grew up in south Sacramento, the only child of a single teen mother. She credits a high school guidance counselor for putting her on the path to degrees from UC Berkeley and Harvard, and a career that has included jobs with the Clinton administration and former California Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.
If elected, Orozco says her role would be a voice for the people on West Sacramento’s northside, the impoverished, largely Latino area where she moved from the city’s wealthier southside so that her four children could be “raised with some humility.”
Those neighborhoods desperately need decent roads and infrastructure, better public transportation for seniors, and better community centers and playgrounds, like the Disney KaBOOM! she helped bring to Bryte Park.
Bridging the divide between the haves and have-nots of West Sacramento, while continuing to encourage growth and development, is a tough task. But Orozco and Sandeen are the best candidates to do it.