Tag Archive for East Sacramento County Democrats

Senate Candidate to visit American River Democrats

Ever since the redistricting of State Senate and State Assembly boundaries, residents of Folsom have been represented in the state legislature by someone named Gaines. The assembly district (No.6) covers Folsom, Fair Oaks and Orangevale, along with parts of El Dorado and Placer Counties. Beth Gaines is the current representative. She is not running for re-election due to term limits*.

Rob Rowen (courtesy rowenforsenate.org)

Rob Rowen (courtesy rowenforsenate.org)

Senate District No. 1 includes Folsom as the only Sacramento County portion, along with El Dorado and parts of Placer County, and the vast region to the northeast, including Shasta County up to the Oregon border. Ted Gaines, Beth’s husband, is the current State Senator for District 1, and, having failed to win the state Insurance Commissioner position last election, is running to be re-elected. Another Republican is challenging him, along with Democrat Rob Rowen.

Though the district is about 43% Republican, compared to 28% Democrat, there are also about 22% independent voters, and Rowen believes he has a good chance. “I truly believe Ted Gaines is vulnerable this election cycle; in his 8 years he has established a voting record of “no” on virtually every proposed legislation proposed by the Democrats in both the Assembly and Senate. Gaines cannot author any meaningful legislation because he will never get any cooperation from the Democrats he has opposed for 8 years” said Rowen.

“While having never held office, I have been involved with the state party for the past 4 years; both as a County Chair and as an executive board representative for Shasta County to the state party. I am not a career politician, what I am is an educated individual that understand the importance of cooperation and compromise that is missing in Sacramento from this district. I look forward to meeting all of you and I hope I will earn your support.

Rowen will be the special guest speaker for the American River Democrats’ May meeting, held on Wednesday, May 18 at Samurai Sushi in Rancho Cordova. Samurai Sushi is located at 12251 Folsom Blvd (Hazel at Hwy 50). The meeting is usually held in the back room of the restaurant. (The meeting starts at 7 pm, you may arrive at 6:30 to order any food or drinks if you wish.) The club welcomes guests and prospective members to attend.

*Brian Caples is running for Beth Gaines’ Assembly seat as a Democrat.

Two great candidates visit the American River Democrats

She is a well known politician with expertise in many aspects of government, and a well connected, business friendly Democrat. He is more of a political outsider who is running as the more progressive candidate. Either one will have to beat a larger pool of Republicans to take office. Hillary versus Bernie? How about Kerri versus Gary?

In our February meeting, the American River Democrats welcomed two candidates for the upcoming open Sacramento County Supervisor seat currently held by Roberta McGlashan. The two known Democrats running for the office are long-time Folsom City Council member and sometime Mayor, Kerri Howell, and High School social studies teacher Gary Blenner.

Blenner introduced himself as a teacher at Rio Americano High, as well as a Union Representative, school board member, central committee member, and part of both the Town and Country Democrats and the JFK Club. This is his second time running for the County Supervisor seat; in 2012 he won 23% of the vote, but Roberta McGlashan held the seat by getting just over 50% in the June primary that year.

Blenner emphasized “People Before Profits”, noting the Gibson Ranch deal that gave the lease to Doug Ose for $1 a year in exchange for a profit share to run the county park, a deal Blenner calls an example of a cash giveaway to greedy developers.

Blenner supports the $15 minimum wage to support economic growth, supporting small business over “big box” stores using a vacancy tax to encourage empty strip mall and other commercial property owners to lower their rents to encourage small business, and a county owned community bank to support them.

Blenner also stressed government reform, cutting the pay of the supervisor position, changing the meeting times away from normal business hours when many people are at work so they are more accessible, and adding six additional positions to better represent the people, and not just developers.

Blenner believes it is important to find local solutions for homeless people, much in the way Salt Lake City has done, building housing that will actually save money, and providing access to mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, and job training programs, while taking away the criminalization of homelessness.

Blenner wants to ensure there is “smart growth” in the open lands in Sacramento County. He vows to make sure developers pay their fair share for the services needed (water, sewer, electric…) and guarantee enough open space. New developments should follow the “community neighborhood model” to reduce traffic and pollution, and encourage small business. Bike trails, parks, and access to light rail and mass transit are crucial.

To learn more about Gary Blenner, visit his website www.electgaryblenner.org.

Speaking next was Kerri Howell, a very familiar face to Folsom residents as a City Council member for over 17 years. But she is also a practicing engineer with her own firm, and a member of the Regional Sanitation district, the Sacramento Transportation Authority, the Folsom Lake College Foundation, and many other current and past positions, giving her established relationships with many elected officials. She believes she is the most qualified candidate for the Supervisor seat.

Howell said that public safety is a crucial issue. When citizens call 911, they need to get an immediate response. While this usually happens in cities like Folsom, in unincorporated areas of the county, such as Orangevale, Fair Oaks, and the rural areas in the south, response can be delayed.

Howell believes the county needs to better market the area to attract new residents and businesses, and make the process for licensing more streamlined. She wants to encourage high-tech Bay Area businesses to locate here. She also wants to expand light rail service to the airport, a logical way to bring travelers into the communities, especially after the success in expanding to Folsom. She also believes the southern county roadway expansion from El Dorado to Interstate 5, along Grant Line Road, needs to be completed to relieve traffic along the 50 Freeway.

Howell also believes we need more transparency in govenment, especially as it relates to campaign financing.

When asked about rural area development, notably south of the 50 Freeway, Howell was very familiar with the issues. She said that the land owned by the private individuals had already been planned for development as long as 30 years ago. As the prospect of it happening got closer, the city of Folsom began the effort to include that area in the city’s sphere of influence. While preventing the building was not a possibility, the city would be able to control how it was developed, insuring at least 30% open space, preserving the current oak tree groves, and including sufficient schools, parks, trails, and transportation. She also said that despite the ongoing drought, there was enough guaranteed water to support the additional homes and business, and that more efficient water systems required in the structures and properties would help make that possible.

To learn more about Kerri Howell, visit her website at www.votekerrihowell.com

With two great candidates in the running, area Democrats can be confidant that we will have at least one make it to the November ballot. Perhaps even two. . .

Images courtesy votekerrihowell.com and electgaryblenner.org

Ken Kiunke, Communications Secretary

Endorsements and recommendations

For the September Meeting of the American River Democrats, we were honored to have present three candidates for Folsom City Council, as well as guest speaker Rick Bettis from the League of Women Voters.

Folsom Mayor Kerri Howell, and new candidates for council Jennifer Lane and Sandra Lunceford each introduced themselves and spoke for two minutes at the meeting. Each had previously filled out candidate questionnaires for endorsement consideration. After they spoke the club voted by secret ballot, and endorsed all three. There are three spots open on the council this year, and three incumbents, including Howell are running for re-election.

Howell spoke of all the accomplishments the city has made since she has been on the council, including the only bridges over the American River built since then, and the upcoming opening of the Johnny Cash trail. Lane stressed her opposition to new development without more planning and water considerations. Lunceford spoke of the historical value of Folsom, and hopes it can become more of a destination for travelers.

Rick Bettis speaking to the club

Rick Bettis speaking to the club

Rick Bettis helped us to understand two of the initiatives on November’s ballot, and provided some more info on all of them as supplied by the League of Women Voters. Proposition 1, the water bond, may seem like an obvious choice, since California is suffering a major crisis and drought. However, there is a lot of opposistion along with support from various entities. Opponents say to much is spent on dams, which do little to increase supply, and endanger pristine wilderness areas. They say action is needed, but this bond is not the answer. Though “tunnel neutral”, it does pave the way for future delta tunnels, and is a giveaway to Southern California from the north. Supporters say that is is a needed solution to many of our agricultural and drought problems, building more storage capacity. There is also funds to protect wetlands and improve water quality and flood protection. The League of Women Voters has not taken a position on this proposition. The California Democrat Party has endorsed it.

The other initiative Bettis spoke about was Proposition 47, which reduces criminal sentences, and changes some non-violent and non-serious felonies to misdemeanors. The goal here is to reduce prison and jail populations, and provide more opportunities for offenders to get better educational and employment opportunities. Despite some concern that released offenders will have more opportunities to go back to victimizing law abiding citizens, both the League and the California Democratic party support the proposition. The thought is money now spend incarcerating low level drug and other offenders is better spent getting them back to being productive members of society.

The League of Women Voters also supports Proposition 2, the rainy day fund. They have taken no stand on props 45, 46, and 48.

The California Democratic Party also endorses Propositions 1 and 2. They also support proposition 48, approving Indian Gaming compacts. They recommend and No vote, however, on Proposition 46, which requires random drug testing for doctors, and raises the cap on malpractice lawsuits.

Melanie Ramil

Melanie Ramil

Proposition 45, which gives the State insurance commissioner approval power on health insurance rate increases, is also supported by the CalDems. Melanie Ramil was a guest at the August meeting of the club, and she gave us more detail about the initiative, which she and Insurance commissioner Dave Jones strongly supports. It would give the commissioner the same power he or she has over home and car insurance, and may help control increasing costs of health care.

The American River Democrats have made no official endorsements of these initiatives, but are glad our members have had a chance to learn about them. Documents attached here from Ballotpedia.com may also provide further details about each one:

Prop 1 Prop 2 Prop 45 Prop 46 Prop 47 Prop 48


August meeting focused on 2014 election

The American River Democrats will be focused on the upcoming fall election this month with 2 guest speakers.

Melanie Ramil, the campaign manager for Dave Jones For Insurance Commissioner and Proposition 45 – Health Insurance Rate Control will update us on Jones’ campaign for re-election, and the impacts of the proposition on health insurance for the state.

Brent Perumel will also be on hand, from the California Democratic Party and Ami Bera’s re-election campaign. He will be discussing strategies for the fall election to insure Dr. Bera the best chance for re-election.

We will also be voting on an endorsement for SMUD Ward 3 candidate, Mario Guerrero.

Join the American River Democrats Wednesday, August 20 to hear from


The America River Democrats August Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, August 20, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome!


June Meeting will focus on Restore the Delta

Do you stand with Governor Brown on the proposal to install large tunnels at the San Francisco Bay delta to divert more water south to support California’s farmers and the population of Southern California?

Or are there better alternatives to California’s water issues as we face frequent droughts, a warming climate, and lower and lower reservoir levels and water supply?

Join the American River Democrats Wednesday, June 18 to learn more about this issue and what you can do.


The America River Democrats June Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, June 18, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome!


Peter Kirkup speaks on the Climate Reality Project

Climate Change Deniers seem to fall into the same general category as our old friends the “Birthers”. Despite overwhelming proof that their position is wrong, it simply “feels right” that their position is correct. After all, if you admitted to yourself that the planet you are leaving to your kids and grandkids is going to be a vastly altered environment with droughts, floods, famine, and disappearing coastlines, how could you go on without doing something about it? and people like things the way they are.

Peter Kirkup, representing The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis”, spoke at the March meeting of the American River Democrats. He presented an abridged slide show of the current state of change in the world.

climate real logo

Some deniers like to point out events like the unusual snow storms that hit the East and Southeastern US this year, and their favorite quote seems to be “where’s your global warming now, Al Gore!?” Peter pointed out that “The cold snap we had this winter was like the freezer door being broken off. It may have felt cooler in the kitchen for a little while, but it doesn’t mean the whole house is cooling down.” You would of course be insane to think that a broken freezer door was great for your house in a hot summer, but what does it mean for the planet?

Peter shared that the famous “Polar Vortex” was actually pushing the cold from the north to the south, so the freak storms were actually a result of our ongoing climate change, not proof against it. 2013 joined the other recent years as being one of the 10 hottest on record. Changes to the jet stream are cooling some places on the planet, while others face debilitating heat and drought. Increased heat, and subsequent flooding usually means devastating landslides as vegetation is no longer there to absorb the rains.

Meanwhile, the oceans continue to be affected. Along with increased acidification, sea levels are rising, not just because glaciers are melting, but the increase in temperature causes the water to expand.

Is there any room for optimism? Well, there is some. Peter said that if we get on it now, we can limit our temperature increase to a manageable 2 degrees this century. If not, we are looking at a 7 degree increase, which would lead to a variety worst case scenarios.

Opportunities are there, such as our increasing solar and wind power projects, ideas such as “Fee & Dividend” plans or “Cap & Trade” plans, which put a cost to carbon and spend the money on efficiency and paybacks to people for conservation.

Even India and China, which loom large as countries that could tip us over the edge, are working aggressively to reduce emissions and pollution.

What can you do? Educational opportunites are there by exploring websites such as The Climate Reality Project, Skeptical Science, this story in the Huffington Post and others. Then joining these groups and electing representatives who support action on the environment, energy and climate change is crucial to getting things done. Meanwhile, plant trees, use LED and CFL lightbulbs, and ride your bike…

March Meeting to address Climate Change

American River Democrats welcome speaker Peter Kirkup from the Climate Reality Project to the March Meeting

climate reality

For years now, we have been told that the carbon we have been pumping into the atmosphere at unprecedented rates is creating a greenhouse effect that is altering the natural climate cycles of the earth and will, if unchecked, result in massive catastrophic changes globally, such as drought, sea level rise, frequent weather events such as hurricanes, and the acidification of the oceans. And also that the effects, such as reducing of the ice caps and glaciers, would only accelerate the warming as less heat is reflected and more permafrost melted, releasing more carbon and methane gas into the air. And as forests are leveled, less carbon is absorbed by nature.

Al Gore in 2006 did his best to bring the message to us nationally and globally with his film An Inconvenient Truth. Our response, as a people, has been mixed. Some countries got on the bandwagon right away, and made immediate progress to reduce emissions. Others, like China and India, thought it was a good idea, but didn’t want to sacrifice their growth, when the West and US had already done most of the damage. And we in the US mostly argued back and forth about whether the scientists were right or not. (Look at this snowstorm! Where’s your global warming now, Al Gore?!!!)

And even the most progressive states, such as California, made efforts, but mostly to reduce back to targets such as 1990 levels of carbon emissions. (Of course it is 1990 type levels that got us into this situation – we need to get back to, say, 1500 levels…)

So now we are rapidly and seemingly unstoppably rushing towards and past the famous “tipping point” where the damage will be done and irrevocable; where even reducing to totally zero emissions would have no positive effects. Where the only answers will be global engineering projects to reduce warming – does that scare you even more?

climate real logo

The American River Democrats will be welcoming a speaker from The Climate Reality Project, an organization founded by Vice President Al Gore to “unleash a global cultural movement to demand action on the climate crisis.” Peter Kirkup, volunteer for Organizing for Action and the Climate Reality Project, will be on hand to update us on what the organization is doing and how you can be part of it.

Please join the meeting at Wednesday, March 19 at Samurai Sushi in Rancho Cordova. Guests are always welcome!


The America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, March 19, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear about the Climate Reality Project, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

February meeting features California Fair Share speaker Patrick Stelmach


Many members of the American River Democrats have started hearing about California Fair Share for the first time, and club member Patrick Stelmach, who is a state organizer for the organization, will be speaking this month about the goals and accomplishments of California Fair Share. He had this to say:

In his state of the union speech, President Obama said, “One of the best investments we can make in a child’s life is high-quality early education.” California Fair Share is a grassroots group working to make sure everyone gets a fair shot at a good, productive life. That starts with every child having access to high-quality, affordable early childhood education and child care. Unfortunately, far too many children in California are not enrolled in preschool, due to the high cost of private preschool and the limited slots available in state-funded early learning programs.

Patrick will discuss the state of early childhood education in California, current legislation in the Congress and the California legislature to expand early learning programs, the impacts of preschool on children’s future academic success, and the significant return on investment for society.

The America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, February 19, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks. The official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.


Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear about California Fair Share, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.

Richard Pan speaks at American River Democrats meeting

Assemblyman Dr. Richard Pan spoke at the January 15 meeting of the American River Democrats club at their monthly meeting at Samurai Sushi. Dr. Pan represents the 9th district, which covers south Sacramento, Elk Grove, and down to Lodi. He was elected to the Assembly in 2010, and for two years served the 5th District, which covered Folsom and parts of East Sacramento County, before redistricting.

Pan stressed his message from 2010 was investing in jobs for middle class people with benefits, as well as in education, people and healthcare. He shared that the work of local clubs like the American River Democrats was crucial to the success of candidates and issues that are important to those goals.

Dr. Pan shared some of what he had been working on since being elected, such as enhancing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act by sponsoring a bill to allow people to keep their providers when plans change due to the ACA. He wants to work on eliminating fraud in the drug rehab program, while preserving the program and its benefits.

He spoke about the issue of hydraulic fracking, and how the recent bill to regulate the practice was perhaps not enough to cover the whole issue, but was at least a good start to provide a framework for regulation.

Education was also on the forefront of his mind. He wants to insure that new funding for the U.C. and C.S.U. systems goes toward reducing tuition and establishing middle class scholarships. Early education was also crucial. He stressed that the importance of universal preschool often is not shown in improved test scores, but in social skills that help keep kids on the right path throughout their educational careers.

Back to the topic of the Affordable Care Act and its impact over the years, he pointed out that the first few years may see an actual increase in some problems because many of the new people in the system could put a strain on resources, as they seek help for delayed issues they have been living with. There may even be an increase in emergency room visits as people with new insurance plans will now have easier access. It will be important to educate these new customers to use their primary care doctor for early help and checkups. It may take a few years to overcome this backlog, and efficiencies will be needed to help, but in the end the outcome will be much better.

Dr. Pan pointed out that in the old system, health care organizations were often most successful by denying care and avoiding having sick people in their systems. A true measure of success will be when health care companies advertise how well they can help sick people and treat disease – and actually try to bring in patients who need help, because they can deliver treatment best. There are features in the new system that reward successful and efficient treatment that will help spur this concept on.

Dr. Pan was warmly greeted by the crowd, and said that even though he no longer represented most of the people there, he always had fond memories of the help he got when running in 2010, and he would always try to help out when he could, even though his district had changed.

Richard Pan will be the guest at January 2014 meeting

The American River Democrats will kick off the new year with our January meeting featuring Dr. Richard Pan, State Assembly Representative for the 9th District.

2014 promises to be an exciting year, full of potential. Governor Jerry Brown will be up for re-election, the US Senate and House majorities will be up for grabs, with chances for either party to take majorities. Locally, Darrell Steinberg, State Senator from District 6, is leaving office due to term limits.

Dr. Richard Pan was elected to the Assembly in 2010, and for two years served the 5th District, which covered Folsom and parts of East Sacramento County. With re-districting, Pan ran for and won his seat for the 9th district, which covers south Sacramento, Elk Grove, and down to Lodi.

Pan has announced that he will run for Senator Steinberg’s seat this year. Roger Dickinson, Assembly Member from the adjoining 7th District, who was a guest of the club at our November meeting, is also running for the Senate seat.

We look forward to hearing from Dr. Pan about his activities in the Assembly and upcoming plans.

SamuraiThe America River Democrats January Meeting will be at Samurai Sushi, Wednesday, January 15, 12251 Folsom Bl, Rancho Cordova. We begin our gathering at 6:30 for social time and a chance to order food or drinks, the official meeting will begin at 7:00 pm.

Samurai Sushi is near the Hazel exit from the 50 freeway on Folsom Blvd.

Guests are always welcome! Feel free to join us to hear from Dr. Pan, or to learn more about the American River Democrats.