Tracie Stafford

Tracie Stafford will run against Assembly Member Jim Cooper, D-Elk Grove, in Assembly District 9’s primary election in March. She previously ran for Elk Grove mayor in 2016 and 2018.

District 9, which includes Elk Grove, extends from south Sacramento to Lodi.

Also planning to challenge Cooper are Democrat Mushtaq Tahirkheil, and Peace and Freedom Party candidate Dennis Terrill.

Stafford, who is also a Democrat, told the Citizen why she decided to run for this Assembly seat.

“Because we need to live our values,” she said. “I have been an advocate lobbying on behalf of legislation for almost 20 years, first as a small business leader and later a spokesperson for organizations such as the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, and others.

“I traveled the nation supporting state and national legislation, and saw firsthand the impact that can be made at the hands of officials who are often disconnected from the very people they serve. It isn’t enough to march for equality and justice. We need to demand it starting by elected officials who represent the needs of the community.”

Stafford mentioned that her top desire is to build an economy that “works for everyone.”

“California has the highest effective poverty rate in the nation,” she said. “We have the highest homeless population. Our schools are improving, but not equitably, and funding is dismal. We need leaders who demand bold action on these important topics and leaders who understand that the old ways just don’t work any longer.”

Stafford referred to high housing costs as the number one reason that poverty rates are so high in California. She also stressed a need for the construction of more affordable homes and apartments.

Stafford also desires improved rehabilitation for prisoners in state prisons.

“When the state incarcerates people and releases them without effective rehabilitation, that impacts Elk Grove,” she said.

Stafford also shared her views on California Northstate University’s interest in obtaining $900 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds through the California Public Finance Authority for their proposed hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood.

“I believe it (is) appropriate to use low-cost funding to invest in our infrastructure, particularly our health care infrastructure,” she said. “The foundational issue for me is ensuring that any new facility has a sound strategic plan, is driven by a known entity in the field, benefits the community, and that the workers and community shape the project down to the hospital location.”

Stafford addressed Cooper’s leadership efforts in helping to deliver $4 million for a future facility for the Elk Grove Food Bank. And she said, if elected, she would also raise funds for nonprofits through her role as an Assembly member.

“In Assembly, I will continue to raise funding for local nonprofits, which is in my opinion, a part of the duties,” she said. “However, it isn’t enough. In addition, we must restructure our economy, so everyone has the ability to work their way into the middle class.

“A donation is fine and good, but a donation coupled with a determination to raise the minimum wage, increase nutrition programs, invest in job training, support unions and all the other ways we fight poverty is much, much better.”

Stafford mentioned that her experience in Elk Grove’s mayoral elections prepared her for running for an Assembly seat.

“Running for mayor was critical in terms of understanding the election process,” she said. “The heavily moneyed nature of campaigns does not allow the election of the best leader, but the best campaigner. If we are lucky, they are one in the same.

“My experience also tested my integrity, resilience, discernment, courage and grace, which I am proud to say all stayed intact.”

This candidate also referred to challenges she experienced in her personal life that led her to her desire to serve people whose “voices are often silenced in the political process.”

“I survived poverty, being orphaned, child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence and discrimination, which has strengthened me and made me determined to stand up for our community,” she said. “There is a way out and a way up through policy, but only with a political leader who is focused on the needs of residents, and I want to be a champion for all in need of a voice.”

Stafford stressed a desire to assist “everyday people.”

“My candidacy is driven by the need to return power to everyday people, so we can create more middle-class jobs with a Green New Deal, send more children to college by lowering and even eliminating tuition for working people, and build more housing that working and middle class people can afford,” she said.