Update: Cosumnes CSD Director Jaclyn Moreno on Sept. 15 told the Citizen that she's not endorsing candidates in the Division 2 race. This story was changed to reflect that statement.
Three candidates are running for two seats on the Cosumnes Community Services District (CSD) board in the November election. If elected, they will make decisions that impact the Cosumnes Fire Department as well as Elk Grove’s parks and recreation system.
Cosumnes Fire has a staff of 180 personnel who serve more than 207,000 residents in the Elk Grove and Galt communities. The CSD recently opened its 101st park in Elk Grove, which is a city of more than 178,000 residents.
Angela Spease, a cybersecurity business owner and the wife of Elk Grove City Council Member Kevin Spease, is running unopposed for the CSD board’s Division 5 seat. The other candidates, attorney Ali Moua and retired Cosumnes fire battalion chief Peter Sakaris are competing against each other for the Division 2 seat.
This election’s winners will succeed Division 2 Director Jaclyn Moreno and Division 5 Director Rod Brewer who are both running for other officers in the November election. Moreno is taking on Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume for the District 5 seat on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Brewer, who served on the CSD board since 2010, is now running in the Elk Grove City Council’s District 2 race.
Under the CSD board’s election system, only voters who live in Divisions 2 or 5 can participate in this year’s board election.
Division 2 covers the Elk Grove communities of Laguna West, Lakeside, and Stonelake, as well as the Laguna area west of Foulks Ranch and Laguna Park drives. Elk Grove’s neighborhoods that border the eastside of Highway 99 such as Old Town, Camden, and Hampton Village are represented in Division 5.
Spease thanks supporters as she runs unopposed for board
Spease turned her campaign kickoff party into a party to thank her supporters on Aug. 25. Nobody else filed their nomination for the CSD board’s Division 5 race by the extended nomination period’s Aug. 17 deadline.
“It’s a rare treat that someone can walk into office on their initial foray,” Hume said about Spease’s campaign.
A few dozen supporters, including former Elk Grove planning commissioner Frank Maita and CSD Director Gil Albiani, joined Spease’s party that was held in the upstairs band practice room of the School of Rock in Old Town.
“It’s not enough to say thank you,” Spease told the party. “I need all of you to be my eyes and ears here in Elk Grove because, no pun intended, it’s a firehose of information out there, and it’s only as good as the people who assist to let me know how I can be of service.”
She told the Citizen that she plans to continue attending CSD board meetings and join their district’s community outreach events to interact with more constituents.
“My goal is to just be a good listener to our residents, our partners, and obviously my colleagues,” the candidate said.
Spease is an Elk Grove High School graduate whose mother co-founded the Old Town Elk Grove Dickens Faire in the 1980s. She spent the past decade being heavily involved in community service projects with the Rotary Club of Laguna Sunrise, including a project where she and fellow Rotarians delivered groceries to homebound seniors during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“By far, she’s proven by all of the years I’ve known her that she puts the best interest of the community before her own personal interest,” Albiani told the Citizen about her.
Rich Lozano, a former CSD director and current Galt City Council member, said that his advice for Spease would be to not only support the community but also the CSD staff.
“Sometimes elected (officials) forget that the staff is who contacts the community daily, whether it’s somebody bringing their child to a recreation lesson or if it’s a firefighter going to someone’s house if they’re having an issue,” he said. “That’s important to keep those folks in the front of your mind.”
After the election, Spease said that she expects to be sworn into office in early December.
During the COVID-19 pandemic’s first year, Moua worked with the American Red Cross to bring blood drives to the CSD’s Laguna Town Hall and he organized a tree-planting event in Elk Grove. He told the Citizen that’s how he got to know the CSD staff and learned about their services for the community.
“In addition to being a father of four kids, I have a lot of interest in making sure that our parks and our recreational services and fire services are exceptionally of high quality, and all of the folks who live here have access to it as well,” he said about his decision to run for the CSD board.
Moua is an attorney who works in civil litigation and estate planning. In 2020, he ran against incumbent Darren Suen in the Elk Grove City Council’s District 1 election. For his new campaign for the CSD board’s Division 2 seat, he gained the endorsements of Cosumnes CSD Director Orlando Fuentes, Sacramento City Council Member Mai Vang, and Elk Grove Unified School Trustee Sean Yang, he told the Citizen.
The candidate is a San Diego native and the son of Laotian immigrants. He studied business law at California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona. After working in sales and business management, he attended Lincoln Law School in Sacramento to earn a law degree in 2014.
Moua said that he can bring more than 20 years of business and management experience to the CSD board. He mentioned his knowledge of how to negotiate contracts and mitigate damages for organizations.
“I’m looking out for the taxpayers and making sure we’re protecting our taxpayers and organizations,” the candidate said.
During his interview, Moua mentioned that he worked as a door-to-door salesman who spoke with thousands of customers. He said the experience taught him how to understand the needs of people from diverse backgrounds.
His CSD campaign’s issues include improving the staffing of fire services, ensuring there is enough revenue flowing into the CSD budget to keep up with rising service costs, and updating and maintaining parks. He addressed the need for accessible park equipment.
“(It’s) making sure that the equipment in the parks are accessible for all types of kids, especially kids with mobility issues or seniors with mobility challenges,” Moua said.
The candidate said that he plans to have voter outreach events and meet-and-greets at parks.
“My main goal is to get out there and talk to each and every individual in our district here to make sure I know what issues they’re concerned about, and what I want to do to help our residents,” Moua said.
Sakaris worked in fire and emergency medical services for nearly 30 years before he retired as a Cosumnes fire battalion chief in 2014. He now wants to help lead that agency as a CSD director.
“I came in with no real chip on my shoulder,” Sakaris told the Citizen about his run for the CSD board. “It’s all about serving this community in which to me is payback for everything they did for me.”
He is now serving as the president of the Lakeside Homeowners Association, which he said is an experience that gave him an insight of what’s happening in his community and its members’ needs.
“It got me to think about my next step, and here we are - this is my next step,” the Division 2 candidate said.
Sakaris is the son of Greek immigrants and he became the first in his family to earn a college degree when he graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology. He began working as an emergency medical technician and he later became a paramedic with the Metro Ambulance company in Sacramento.
“I fell in love with it and thought it was probably one of the best jobs ever,” Sakaris recalled.
He said that it was the right career for him after he helped treat an elderly patient who suffered a heart attack.
Sakaris went on to become a firefighter-paramedic for the Galt Fire Protection District and rose to the rank of assistant fire chief before that district merged its fire services with the Elk Grove CSD to become the Cosumnes CSD in 2006. He went on to lead as the chief of the district’s emergency medical services until his retirement.
Sakaris described himself as a “budget guy” when asked about what qualities he would bring to the CSD board if he’s elected.
“I worked with the CSD and know how its budget works,” he said. “It’s changed over the past eight years. Numbers are numbers - it’s how you put those numbers and how you manage those numbers to make sure we are a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars and that are we doing the right thing with the taxdollars.”
Sakaris said that his top campaign issue is reducing the “wall time” or the period when paramedics wait at an emergency center before their patient is admitted for treatment. He believed that the CSD fire staff has accumulated 1,800 hours in wall time this year.
“If you’re spending an hour at the hospital, that’s one hour that ambulance isn’t available for service within the community - that needs to be resolved,” Sakaris said, adding that wall time can affect the fire personnel’s morale.
He recalled dealing with that situation on a daily basis when he worked for Cosumnes Fire.
Sakaris also wants to help the fire department cut its response time by building fire stations in strategic locations, having the right number of personnel and equipment in place, and having streetlights that the fire staff can control during emergencies.
“It’s going to be working with the city and the county, and making sure we have adequate ways,” he said.
Other fire department issues that he wants to address as a CSD director is ensuring that firefighters and medical workers are consistently trained and equipped with “cutting-edge” technology.
As for the district’s parks and recreation system, Sakaris desires to see more after-school programs for youths, particularly internships or ridealongs for teenagers who want to prepare for employment.
“It shows them what’s available out there in the job market and they can get excited about it,” he said.
Sakaris also wants to ensure that park maintenance budgets are better funded, and recreation programs are improved after the pandemic earlier took a toll on them.
“We’re now at that flex point where we need to make sure that we got that movement toward increasing or making sure we supply the right recreation activities to who we’re dealing with today,” he said.
The candidate said that his work experience with the CSD is what ultimately distinguishes him in this year’s board election.
“I know the departments within the CSD - I worked with almost every single one of those departments when I was a battalion chief,” he said.