While much public attention has centered on Elk Grove mayoral candidate Bobbie Singh-Allen and her harassment allegations against incumbent Steve Ly, mayoral candidate Brian Pastor told the Citizen last week that he’s not taking sides.
“I can’t speak on the guilt or innocence of Mayor Ly,” said Pastor, a 15-year resident of Elk Grove. “We need to have proof. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the pattern of behavior that’s publicly been reported. Harassment has no expiration date and the reports should be thoroughly examined for the facts and the truth.”
The allegations against Mayor Ly
The first accusation against Ly emerged in late June after Linda Vue, Ly’s 2016 campaign manager, criticized him through an op-ed piece that was published by the online news site, Elk Grove Tribune.
Vue claimed that Ly, who is America’s first Hmong mayor, used patriarchal forces within the Hmong familial clan system to harass her for posting critical comments about the mayor.
Since then, several other local women claimed they were harassed at various times by associates or supporters of Ly.
Among those accusers are elected officials, including Elk Grove School Board Trustee Bobbie Singh-Allen who announced her plan to run for mayor on July 28.
In response to allegations by local women who alleged they were harassed by Ly’s associates or supporters, Singh-Allen on June 30 used her personal Facebook page to refer to the Hmong familial clan system as a “controlling and intimidating system used to attack and silence these women.”
Four days later, on the same Facebook page, Singh-Allen alleged that she was harassed by Ly’s associates after she was appointed to the Elk Grove school board in 2012.
She mentioned that she believes that alleged action occurred because she endorsed Ly’s school board opponent, Jake Rambo. Ly defeated the incumbent Rambo in that year’s election. Singh-Allen and Ly served together on the Elk Grove school board until 2014, when Ly was elected to the Elk Grove City Council.
The mayor has denied his involvement in the alleged harassment and issued a statement regarding those allegations.
“They have spoken out about being harassed, intimidated and bullied,” he wrote on Aug. 7. “I believe them and acknowledge their pain. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering they have endured.”
After reviewing the harassment allegations against the mayor, the City Council on Aug. 12 voted to request a Sacramento County Grand Jury investigation regarding those allegations. All four council members later endorsed Singh-Allen for mayor.
Two weeks ago, a rally was held in Elk Grove to protest Singh-Allen, who the event’s organizers accused of making derogatory remarks about Hmong culture.
Pastor’s views on the Ly case
During his interview with the Citizen, Pastor stressed that any form of harassment cannot be tolerated.
“Respecting women and elderly (are) at the core of my culture,” he said. “I would certainly and immediately discourage harassment, especially if it (were) members of my Filipino community.”
Pastor criticized the timing of Singh-Allen’s decision to make her claim against Ly.
“This is stemming from 2012 – eight years ago?” he asked. “So, if you’re going to come with these allegations, it could have been done earlier when he was going up for reelection. Why all of a sudden it has to be now? And then she all of a sudden decides to run for mayor last minute. From my perspective, it’s kind of personal.”
As for Ly’s Aug. 7 statement, Pastor said that he believes that the mayor gave the impression that he was guilty.
“He said he was sorry, so when you say you’re sorry, that means you’re admitting to guilt,” he said.
“That’s my perspective: When somebody says sorry, it sounds like you’re guilty.”
Pastor noted that he is not knowledgeable about the Hmong culture.
“I’m not too familiar with the Hmong culture, so I don’t know how men treat their women and women treat their men,” he said. “That’s a whole other culture. I’m unfamiliar with that, but that’s a possibility that these allegations are true, but there (are) no facts. You have to give someone the benefit of the doubt. But also, too, when you have multiple people even from his own community and then people who worked with (him making allegations), it makes you think.”
Pastor discusses traffic, small businesses, public safety
Pastor told the Citizen that he would like to be known as the “sandwich-generation mayor.”
“I want to engage the youth and the seniors,” he said. “We don’t have enough accessibility for the seniors. Me, being middle-aged, I’m caught in the middle. I want to help the multigenerational households.
“We have a new senior center building, but we need better access for senior transportation, like the e-tran buses. My mother uses the e-tran buses, but sometimes she’s unable to get a schedule to pick her up and bring her back home.”
He additionally expressed an interest in having more younger people register to vote, “so we can hear their voice.”
Pastor said that his interest in helping others extends to veterans and disabled persons, “who make part of the city.”
He mentioned that Elk Grove has a lot of multigenerational families who are struggling to pay their bills.
Among the issues that Pastor related to multigenerational households is traffic congestion.
“You have someone probably doing groceries, you have someone coming from work, going to work,” he said. “So, you have to look at the root of the issues that are going on right now.”
Pastor added that many issues in Elk Grove are intertwined with traffic.
“You can have traffic and you can have a Band-Aid to fix it,” he said. “But if you don’t have the root cause, then how can you fix the traffic. You’re just going to put a Band-Aid to the problem.”
Also important to Pastor is protecting small businesses.
“You see a lot of small businesses going out of business,” he said. “I went and spoke to small business owners and asked them (about) their struggles during COVID(-19).
“(They) said it’s tough. They applied for that (personal protective equipment) loan and it only helped to pay for like a month for their employees. But they’re still required to pay their lease. They’re unable to make an adjustment talking to their property management or the owner of the property to get some kind of leeway during this tough time.
“We have to do something to protect our small businesses here from going out of business, and encourage small business growth. If (businesses) are opening at half time and they don’t have the employees, they could probably employ some youth at minimum wage to help out, if that would encourage job growth. But it’s tough when these small businesses are only at minimal capacity.”
Pastor also spoke about the issue of public safety.
“We’ve been pretty safe,” he said. “We haven’t had any riots here. The other candidates haven’t mentioned anything about more community service officers patrolling, at least two per district. They would just roam around and patrol their district.
“We should have more (video surveillance) cameras. If we have some permanent ones at major intersections (then) that would discourage people from committing crimes.”
Pastor, a 2013 graduate of Fatima College of Medicine in the Philippines, said that although he is a first-time political candidate, he has a history as a leader.
That experience includes serving as his graduating class’s president at Fatima College, the Halo-Halo (Asian Pacific Islander) Club president at Christian Brothers High School, and class president of St. Peter’s Lutheran School, in Sacramento.
Pastor mentioned that if elected, he would use his leadership abilities to help the city progress.
“I’m new to the political realm, but I’ve had leadership roles,” he said. “I want to reach out to the whole community (and) help out the whole community. This is my city, my family lives here, a lot of my friends live here. I’m going to grow old here. I want this city to flourish.”