Alejandro Gutierrez-Duncan is running for the Elk Grove City Council’s District 3 seat in this November’s election. He is a Bolivian immigrant, a teacher and a 10-year resident of Elk Grove.
Gutierrez-Duncan is one of five candidates vying for the District 3 seat, which will be vacated by the outgoing Vice Mayor Steve Detrick who is not seeking reelection.
The other candidates are former Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Kevin Spease who ran for mayor of Elk Grove in 2016, Lynn Wheat, a candidate for Elk Grove mayor in 2012, Maureen Craft, who challenged Detrick for his seat in 2016, and Amandeep Singh.
Council District 3 covers the Camden area and north Elk Grove’s Power Inn Road area, as well as part of eastern Laguna. Under the City Council’s new “by-district” election system, only residents who live in District 3 can vote in the District 3 election this November.
Gutierrez-Duncan told the Citizen that housing and homelessness are among the issues that are most important to him.
On the issue of housing, Gutierrez-Duncan mentioned people who live in Elk Grove but commute to jobs outside of the city.
“That is at some point good,” he said. “We need to look at creating a culture of identity in our city. So, everyone’s welcome here, but you also have to embrace who we are as a city. So, housing industry, we need to look at it in how we make renters permanent residents in our city.”
Gutierrez-Duncan also expressed concern with low-income renters who spend the majority of their income on renting their homes.
“Renting benefits some people, but effects lots of people,” he said. “But we need to look at that.”
Regarding homelessness, Gutierrez-Duncan spoke about the issue as a crisis that affects many people throughout the nation.
“(Homelessness) is a crisis in the whole entire country, but California is facing a huge crisis,” he said. “It’s also the homeless of internal migration. Homelessness is not only happening because someone lost their house in California.
“At the end of the day, (homeless people) are citizens in our country. Homelessness is one of the issues that we need to address in Elk Grove. What are we doing? How do we address into this issue?”
On the issue of traffic, Gutierrez-Duncan mentioned that it is continuously becoming more difficult to commute in Elk Grove.
“I feel like people are getting frustrated and we need smart ways to make that commute better,” he said.
Gutierrez-Duncan noted that a lot of city residents do not live close to stores.
“That in certain ways pushes us to drive,” he said. “My idea was why we cannot use public transportation that way.
“We need to do better communicating internally in our city for public transportation. From my experience, I think we can do better.”
Gutierrez-Duncan immigrated to the United States a decade ago, and after living in South Carolina, he made his home in Elk Grove.
Although he is a first-time political candidate, he is not new to politics.
Gutierrez-Duncan told the Citizen that he spent time as a political activist in his native country, where he worked on civil rights issues.
As the son of a mother of African descent and a father with indigenous Quechua roots, Gutierrez-Duncan has a culturally diverse background, which helped spur his desire to become involved in civil rights activism.
He shared a story of his mother, who died 18 years ago, when he was 17 years old.
“We grew up in a country where people told her that education wasn’t for her; a black woman couldn’t go to school, because it wasn’t meant for them,” Gutierrez-Duncan said. “When my mom needed help, it wasn’t available for her. That is the time that I realized who I was in this planet, what was my condition in this planet, and I needed to change that perspective.
“I can change nationality, I can become a U.S. citizen, but one thing I cannot change is my skin color, and that, unfortunately, is what people will see, especially if I’m in a situation of injustice. If I don’t do anything, nothing will change. And that’s why I’m also running, as well.”
Gutierrez-Duncan, who lives in Elk Grove with his husband, Sean Duncan, added that he feels that his diverse background can assist him in serving the residents of District 3.
“When I’m thinking about something, I’m always thinking how my black community is going to benefit, my Latino community, my white community – connected to my husband,” he said. “So, thinking all of these, it brings me multiple narratives. And I think my perspective, from my personal experience, it’s already open. So, I think having multiple voices, with perhaps one person already, gives us a lot advantage to have a very diverse city.”
He added that he could also be a representative for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community members who feel underrepresented.
In speaking to District 3 voters, in general, Gutierrez-Duncan said that, if elected, he would “make sure that their voices are heard at the table.”