Michelle Kile, a nine-year resident of Elk Grove, will run against Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly in next November’s mayoral election.
She is currently the only candidate running against the incumbent who is seeking a third term.
Kile, who grew up in Sacramento, explained that her decision to run for mayor resulted from her frustrations of trying to make a difference politically.
“The reason I decided to run for mayor is I was doing protests, doing rallies, doing petitions for other things that I was doing at the State Capitol, and it just seemed like nothing was getting done or going my way,” she said. “So, finally I decided maybe (what) I needed to do to get things to go my way is actually step on the inside and try to get my foot in the hold in the machine that way.
“I know they listen to us at the council meetings. I’m not saying they don’t. I just know sometimes they have a tendency to listen better when you’re sitting in one of those five seats.”
Kile’s educational background includes graduating from C.K. McClatchy High School in 1990. She earned bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology in 2010, and a master’s degree in sociology last year at California State University, Sacramento.
She has worked in accounting, budgeting and office management positions.
Along with her husband, Jeffrey, she has raised four children, who have all attended schools in the Elk Grove Unified School District.
Crime is among the local issues that are most important to Kile.
“It’s not that I think that (crime) is not down in Elk Grove, because it is down in Elk Grove, overall,” she said. “But crime against women has gone up. And being a woman myself and having two girls, that’s very concerning to me. My car is much safer in Elk Grove than my girls are.
“And I’m also Native American, so for me, standing up for the minorities is huge, and crime against minorities and women and the disadvantaged section of people, that has not gone down. And, in fact, it’s gone up.”
Kile recognized the work performed by the local nonprofit Chicks in Crisis, and women’s shelters in Elk Grove, but stressed a need for Elk Grove to have a much larger presence with Women Escaping a Violent Environment (WEAVE) – the county’s primary provider of crisis intervention services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“I know the federal government is actually trying to do a huge thing with that, which I would hope would trickle down to the state and then into the city government in that way,” she said. “But we need to get a bigger thing with WEAVE.”
Another issue that Kile is focusing on in her campaign is transportation.
Kile noted that transportation is increasingly important as the population of the city continues to grow.
“It would be nice for the new developments that we’ve got, the casino coming in, that they make sure that they try to alleviate the transportation and the traffic issues that are going to happen. We know they’re going to happen.
“I would rather over-anticipate than under-anticipate and go, ‘Oh, well, we’re only going to have the 150,000 cars,’” she said. “No, let’s plan on 200,000 cars, so that way if it’s less, great, (and) the traffic isn’t an issue and we’re not going to have to deal with that.”
Kile expressed an interest in extending light rail service into Elk Grove.
“I think it would help clear up some of the traffic,” she said. “I really do think it would help a lot of people just to have the light rail come through (Elk Grove).
“Where would you put it, how would you put it through, and you’re going to have to plow through some houses and that stuff. That doesn’t make me happy. I’m definitely a huge small-business supporter.”
Kile also mentioned a need to reduce traffic congestion on Elk Grove and Laguna boulevards, widen some of the city’s streets, make more pedestrian-friendly areas and improve bicycle lanes. She additionally favors the construction of more roundabouts.
Also important to Kile is the issue of homelessness.
“I want to be proactive, instead of reactive (on this issue), especially with them being pushed out of Sacramento right now,” she said. “They’re coming our way, and at the moment we don’t have tons and tons here, but they are here.
“We have our (Elk Grove Homeless Assistance Resource Team), and that’s also a great thing for them to have with the winter months that they get the food, they get the shelter,” she continued, referencing the Winter Sanctuary program. “But what are we doing during the summer? We need to come up with a solution for them to help them (in other ways).”
Kile also mentioned her desire for Elk Grove to become “greener.”
“I would love to see Elk Grove be greener – solar, more electric charging stations,” she said.
Additionally, she would like to decrease fossil fuel use in Elk Grove and have more trees planted in the city.
Kile noted that she is interested in “just representing the people,” and does not plan to accept contributions from corporations.
“We have that problem here in Elk Grove that they get the corporate donations and the big money spender donations and then they owe (them) promises and things,” she said. “I want a vote for us, the people.”
Kile added that she has a goal, if elected, to leave Elk Grove in a “better place” than she found it.