Four ways to four in Sacramento County supervisor race

Introducing the candidates vying to succeed Roberta MacGlashan

Candidates hoping to succeed Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan include (clockwise from top left) Citrus Heights Councilman Steve Miller, Folsom Councilwoman Kerri Howell, Folsom Cordova school board president Teresa Stanley and Citrus Heights Councilwoman Sue Frost.

Candidates hoping to succeed Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan include (clockwise from top left) Citrus Heights Councilman Steve Miller, Folsom Councilwoman Kerri Howell, Folsom Cordova school board president Teresa Stanley and Citrus Heights Councilwoman Sue Frost.


After 12 years of conservative, developer-friendly rule in Sacramento’s northwest county by Republican Roberta MacGlashan, four candidates are vying to succeed the county supervisor—and for voters, it could be a tough choice.

That’s because a top priority for each candidate is pushing for progressive change with respect to bike lanes, public transit and how to free Sacramento from its plague of daily traffic jams. Not your typical supervisor agenda, indeed.

MacGlashan announced in September she won’t run in the June election to reclaim her longstanding seat, which represents Citrus Heights and Folsom, as well as Orangevale, Antelope, Rancho Murieta and Rio Linda/Elverta, each an unincorporated community of Sacramento County.

In the race to replace her are Steve Miller, a 57-year-old Citrus Heights city councilman; 57-year-old Kerri Howell, a Folsom city councilwoman since the late 1990s; former Citrus Heights mayor and city council member Sue Frost, 59; and 55-year-old Teresa Stanley, longtime board president with the Folsom Cordova Unified School District.

As they campaign for votes for the seat of District 4 supervisor, candidates are discussing issues such as public safety, simplified permitting processes for new businesses and homelessness.

But, perhaps surprisingly, it’s transit where the four seem to share the most common ground.

Make Citrus Heights … into Portland?

All agree that road congestion plagues Sacramento and its rural hinterlands and suburbs, and that cycling and walking infrastructure must be improved. Rail lines need to be extended to important destinations, they say.

“Everyone talks about the region and Sacramento as being world-class, but we’re never going to be world-class if, even in the urban parts of the county, everyone keeps depending on driving everywhere,” said Howell, a Democrat, who says she is proud of the Sacramento region’s status as a premier cycling area and wants to continue building upon it. “If we don’t have even have basic-bones public transport to the airport, what does that say about us?”

Howell has at least as much experience as any of the other candidates. Also an engineer and president of a civil and corrosion engineering-consulting firm, Howell has served as a Folsom city councilwoman since 1998, and spent four years prior on the Planning Commission. She feels the successes in Folsom—especially its thriving business community and its pedestrian and bike friendly streets—are virtues that should be shared with the rest of the district.

Stanley feels her two decades with the Folsom Cordova school district have kept her up close and personal with children, families and pressing social issues, such as poverty and substance abuse, from a comparatively broad geographical region.

“We’ve got two cities and some county areas within our school district,” said Stanley, a Republican. “So, unlike the city council people, I’ve dealt with issues that pass beyond the lines of my own little bubble.”

Miller, a Republican, has spent a decade on the Citrus Heights City Council, and previously worked for the county’s public works agencies from 1987 to 2000. He says he has gained a detailed understanding of law enforcement, transit and budget management.

Frost, a Republican, is in her fourth year on the Citrus Heights City Council, with one year under her belt as mayor. She has named as campaign priorities providing housing for homeless people, fixing roads and reducing congestion—the latter in part by improving cycling and pedestrian street features.

Miller recently visited Portland, Ore., and says the progressive river town he saw, thick with cyclists, food trucks and beer, seemed a prime urban model for Sacramento to follow.

“I identify with Portland,” said Miller. “Portland has very similar demographics as Sacramento, but they’ve made great strides, especially with their transit system.” He moved from the Bay Area 30 years ago to escape its thickening traffic, and says he wants to put in place more extensive infrastructure for locking bikes safely at light-rail stops and Amtrak stations, allowing people to make public transit connections via bicycle.

Frost also lauded Portland’s transit infrastructure. She feels that on highways 99 and 50, among other roads, traffic jams have become a serious impairment to businesses and economic growth and for personal quality of life.

“It’s hard on families when they can’t get home in a reasonable time at night,” Frost said.

Bicycling, she says, needs to become a more viable option for getting places, and building more bike paths and installing bike locking racks at key locations will serve as small steps toward alleviating congestion.

The local rail and bus systems also need work.

“We need to focus on transit that people will use,” Frost explained. Ensuring buses and trains connect directly to key destination points at key times, and that they feature Wi-Fi to benefit business professionals, will encourage more people to ride. She noted that the term “Regional Transit” is a misnomer, since remote communities, such as Elk Grove, are yet to be adequately served.

Stanley believes boosting quality of life will have much to do with the way new housing and commercial zones are installed.

“I am supporting infill and walkability so that people can live where they work,” Stanley said.

For Howell, how locals get places is a top issue. She feels transit is a broken wheel impairing the region’s economic and social progress. If elected, Howell says she will push for extending the light-rail lines and shortening the walking distances between regional and local transit stations.

Past initiatives to extend the light-rail lines have faced objection from locals, who worry that homeless people and drug dealers might congregate on the trains.

“People thought nobody was going to ride [the light rail when it came to Folsom in 2005], and they wanted to keep the luxury bus that takes all the state workers downtown during the day,” Howell said. However, ridership far exceeded what transportation authorities predicted. Within four months of the light-rail line connecting to Folsom, the number of users surpassed what officials had forecasted for three years down the road, Howell says.

“The same thing happened when they brought light rail down to Cosumnes River College [last summer], and now people are riding it,” she said. “It’s amazing the things people are afraid of.”

Locals have even been afraid of bike paths. Miller says Folsom residents objected to a bike path plan that they feared would bring crime and loitering to their backyards. In the end, that bike path wound up wildly popular among locals, he says. Citrus Heights residents have put up a similar stink about a proposal for bike paths along the area’s network of streams, says Frost.

Business, homelessness and cops

Jobs, business, the economy—these are always big election issues, and all four District 4 candidates say they have a plan.

Stanley says her main campaign focus will be on streamlining economic development by removing unnecessary permitting hurdles. The idea, says Stanley—who owns a law firm and co-owns a brewery, Lockdown Brewing Co.— is to make it easier for new businesses to get started and for young ones to grow.

“I’ve seen a lot of issues with high permitting fees, and with the fact that people can’t get simple things done in a short period of time, and that they often don’t have a single point of contact to help them,” she said.

She says she faced exasperating permitting bureaucracy when trying to open a tasting room with her brewery in 2014. She even submitted a conditional-use permit application, along with a $5,000 processing fee, to one department before someone in another department informed her the permit wasn’t needed. Stanley received only some of the money back.

“I want to develop a one-day, one-stop permitting process,” she said. The current system is so inefficient, she said, “because nobody handles everything in one spot.”

Moreover, fees are exorbitant, she claims: The county fee for a residential solar permit is almost $600—about 10 times the same fee set by the city of Sacramento. “I would like to see … fees that match the costs of approving or denying things,” she wrote in an email exchange with SN&R.

Helping the homeless population and substance abusers is hindered by similar systemic inefficiencies, Stanley says, with police officers generally lacking training or tools for how to effectively deal with these people.

Frost wants to hook law enforcement agencies, lawmakers and housing advocates up with dedicated nonprofits to better help homeless people find services and housing.

“Government can’t do it all,” she said. “There are nonprofits whose whole goal in life is to help the underserved community, and they do it better. Let’s help them.”

Miller’s top focus as a candidate is fiscal stability.

“If we don’t have money, we can’t increase public safety or improve quality of life,” he said, adding that equipping police officers and training them takes money. He noted that Citrus Heights has an impressive record in the face of economic turbulence: During the slump of 2008 to 2012, the city was the only one in the region, he says, that didn’t lay off an employee. Miller says that’s because the government—partly under his direction—had been looking ahead and saving money in a “rainy day fund” for just such an emergency.

Similar thriftiness at the county level could help other communities better withstand the shock of future economic temblors, he says.

“It would be as easy as putting aside a little here, a little there, rather than spending every nickel on the table,” he said.

Howell considers public safety a concern and wants more funding to be provided for the sheriff’s department, which faces the burden of providing services in unincorporated, relatively remote communities that don’t have their own police departments.

Money in the bank

MacGlashan, who sits as chairperson of the board of supervisors during her final year, was first elected as District 4 supervisor in 2004. She was re-elected twice and, by the end of her current term, will have served 12 years. She has become known for her fiscally conservative stances on the board, and received praise from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the American Planning Association and the North State Building Industry Association.

When the local development and building industry fought back against a 2004 county law mandating that developers include housing for low-income residents to battle poverty and segregation, MacGlashan and other supervisors supported the developers by hamstringing the ordinance. She drew criticism from SN&R for this, as well as for her conservative stance on medical marijuana—specifically, leading an effort to ban cultivation in the county.

Frost concedes she has less experience in politics than the other candidates but that she doesn’t see herself as a politician, per se. She is clear that jobs in government are not careers but, rather, are a public service.

“That means we can never forget who we work for,” Frost said. “When voting or responding to issues, we should be thinking about how it’s going to impact the people we represent, not just how to keep ourselves in favor with the special interests.”

Frost, like the competitors, has raised very little so far, with only $18,887 in her campaign coffers last year. Stanley has raised just less than $18,000. Howell has earned $7,000 since November, and Miller is just getting started but aims to bring in $200,000.