A realtor, a school board member and an LGBTQ community leader are running for the Sacramento City Council seat representing the rapidly growing North Natomas neighborhood.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, who has held the seat since 2010, is running for State Senate and is not seeking re-election. After the June 7 primary, the top two candidates will move to the Nov. 8 general election. The winner will take office in December.
Like Ashby, all three candidates for District 1 are moderate Democrats, but they do have some notable differences.
Nate Pelczar, 44, grew up in Michigan before moving to Sacramento in 2009 and has been a North Natomas homeowner since 2010. He works at the California Product Stewardship Council, an environmental organization. He is a board member for the Stonewall Foundation of Greater Sacramento, which serves LGBTQ+ youth. He is endorsed by Ashby and Councilman Jay Schenirer.
Lisa Kaplan, 46, grew up in Oregon before moving to Sacramento in 1999 to attend McGeorge Law School. An attorney, she’s owned a home in North Natomas since 2005, and has been a member of the Natomas Unified School Board since 2001. She is endorsed by Councilmen Eric Guerra and Rick Jennings.
Alyssa Lozano, 42 was born in Northgate, and has lived in North Natomas since she was four. She is a realtor and the president of the Natomas Chamber of Commerce. No sitting council members have endorsed Lozano, but Assemblyman Kevin McCarty has.
Kaplan has gathered large donations from developers and real estate groups. She received $6,000 from the California Apartment Association, $3,500 from the California Real Estate PAC, and $1,800 from developer Sotoris Kolokotronis.
Pelczar also received $1,800 from Kolokotronis, and $6,000 from the Sacramento Police Officers Association.
Lozano has mostly received small donations.
The city is converting a North Natomas motel into homeless shelter and housing. It’s in Ashby’s district today, but the district’s boundaries are changing in December. District 1 will have no large homeless projects after that change, although it does have scattered homes.
Pelczar said he wants the city to convert more motels into shelters and housing, including in District 1. He is also open to Safe Grounds — where people live in tents or vehicles with access to bathrooms, showers, medical care, and rehousing services — but only if the planned safe parking lot in Meadowview is not enoughhe said.
“Whatever the community can bear, I’ll welcome with open arms,” Pelczar said. “But every district needs to pull its weight.”
Lozano proposes the city open a Safe Ground at a city lot in North Natomas where roughly 100 tiny homes and trailers have been sitting unused for over a year.
“They’re already there, it’s close to transportation, there’s lots of space,” said Lozano, who’s been inside the fenced lot.
While home and business owners often oppose homeless sites opening nearby, Lozano said she thinks they would support one at the city storage lot because it would move people off Steelhead Creek.
“Our businesses want to help move folks off the levee,” Lozano said. “Residents of the Valley View area are upset their levees and bike trail are riddled with debris.”
Kaplan said she’d like to see a homeless site in North Natomas along the Jibe bus route. She does not yet have a specific location in mind or a type of shelter she wants to propose. She wants to see an audit first of current homeless programs and spending, she said.
In 2020, she led an effort that gathered donations from Natomas residents to place homeless families in motels for 10 weeks around the holidays, she said.
All candidates want more Sacramento cops
Following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, activists have been urging the council to reduce police funding, and shift that money toward youth programs, homeless services and social workers. Despite that, the police budget has been growing, hitting an all-time-high $165.8 million in the current fiscal year.
All three candidates said the department needs more officers.
Lozano, whose father was a Sacramento police officer, said the department should hire dozens more officers to fill vacancies, and should also improve transparency and accountability.
“We definitely have to do a better job of making sure bad police officers are not on our force and on our streets,” said Lozano.
Pelczar, who is endorsed by the city’s police officer union, agreed.
“Not everyone feels safe when more police are added, so we need to get the problematic folks out of the department,” he said.
Kaplan said more officers would help with frequent issues such as porch pirates, catalytic converter thefts, and mailbox break ins.
“We have the same amount of officers from 10 to 12 years ago, but the city has grown,” she said.
New projects in Natomas
The candidates have different preferences for a major development planned for the site of the the former Sleep Train Arena, a proposed $1 billion hospital and medical school managed by Elk Grove-based California Northstate University. The site is a centerpiece of commercial development plans for North Natomas.
The City Council in February moved the project forward by approving its planning documents. California Northstate at the time disclosed that that it plans to ask for financial incentives from the city based on the number of jobs it creates.
Kaplan said she does not want the city to give money to the project unless the for-profit medical school earns full accreditation.
Pelczar said he would grant city money toward it.
Lozano said she is not yet sure.
The candidates have some other ideas for projects they’d like to cultivate in North Natomas.
The hospital project will include space for a Natomas Unified School District building—a project Kaplan helped lead, she said.
Lozano said she wants the city to build a sports complex at undeveloped land at North Natomas Regional Park.
And Pelczar said he wants the city to offer subsidies to developers to build housing more quickly for all income levels.