Singh-Allen defeats Ly, declares victory in historic bid for Elk Grove mayor

Sacramento Bee, November 1, 2020

After mounting a swift campaign late this summer, Bobbie Singh-Allen will be the next mayor of Elk Grove and the first directly-elected Sikh woman to hold the office in the nation.

Singh-Allen declared victory early Monday after receiving a call from Mayor Steve Ly who she defeated after a contentious race, winning 46% of votes cast as Sacramento County election officials continue counting.

Ly, who has held the office since 2016, garnered 34%, according to the most recent figures available, while a third candidate, Brian Pastor, received 18% of the votes. The window for a potential win for Ly did not expand late Friday when the results were last updated.

“I am truly humbled and honored by our victory. This win is not about me, it is about the well-being of Elk Grove,” Singh-Allen said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to being a champion for our city and bringing our community together. Whether you supported me or not, I invite you to work with me to move our city forward. From now on, everyone has a seat at the table.”

The city’s mayor is elected every two years and is only paid a stipend. Calls and emails to Ly Friday and early Monday went unanswered but Singh-Allen said he left a voicemail shortly after noon conceding the race.

Ly is known as a seasoned and savvy campaigner who could command a small army of volunteers to get his message out. His signature was a plant with a note from his wife, Coua Ly. But that machine-like operation faced obstacles unseen in his previous races.

Singh-Allen launched her bid in late July after several people accused Ly, who has held public office since 2012, of conscripting surrogates to attack political opponents and other critics in the community, including Singh-Allen. In another case, one of Ly’s campaign aides was accused of sexually harassing Jaclyn Moreno, then a candidate for the Cosumnes Community Services District board. In each case, Ly denied responsibility and vowed to be more responsive in the future.

The City Council considered censuring the mayor in August but chose instead to ask a grand jury to investigate the alleged misconduct. The outcome of that request is still unknown.

The wave of accusations fueled Singh-Allen’s months-long campaign, allowing her to raise nearly as much money as Ly did in more than twice as much time. Both Singh-Allen and Ly raised nearly $250,000 in their bid for the position.

Her candidacy was boosted by an endorsement from all corners of the community, perhaps a sign that the allegations caused Ly to fall out of favor. Singh-Allen announced her decision to run with backing from U.S. Rep. Ami Bera, state Assemblyman Jim Cooper and State Controller Betty Yee. The list of supporters grew to include state Sen. Richard Pan, the police and fire unions and every member of the Elk Grove City Council.

Meanwhile, Ly lost early endorsements from the politically influential Democratic Central Committee of Sacramento County and the Sacramento Central Labor Council.

Ly had run for elected office four times before and faced challengers in each race, but always walked away with a victory. But when the initial results were released shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Day, Ly was behind — and the results have remained the same since Friday.

Singh-Allen is expected to be sworn in on Dec. 9 after which she vowed to begin addressing the city’s challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. She said she will also hold a retreat with the City Council to identify priorities for the city, including traffic congestion.

“There is a lot of work in the months ahead,” she said. “I hope I can count on every single one of Elk Grove residents to get the job done together.”

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