Lynn Wheat, who ran in Elk Grove’s first directly elected mayoral race in 2012, will run for the Elk Grove City Council District 3 seat in the November election.
Elk Grove Vice Mayor Steve Detrick announced last December that he will not run for re-election. He is instead endorsing former Elk Grove Planning Commissioner Kevin Spease to replace him as the District 3 representative.
Also planning to run for that seat in November is Maureen Craft, who challenged Detrick for the seat in 2016.
Wheat, a retired school nurse who has lived in Elk Grove for 32 years, told the Citizen that her top three issues are land use, traffic, and small businesses.
“We can do better, and the issues which I’m running on really reflect who I am as a registered nurse, too,” she said. “It’s public health issues, it is quality of life.”
Land use in Elk Grove
Wheat shared why land use is one of her top issues in her City Council campaign.
“Land use has always been very important to me, because what we build stays and remains, and some of it long after I’m gone or those in my age group are gone,” she said. “And so, we are really leaving that to the future, and what do we want to have that look like?”
Wheat also shared her view on annexing additional land into the city.
“I believe that we really need to look at how we’re developing our land, really contain that sprawl,” she said. “We have boundaries for the Elk Grove city, and our current council and mayor, their policies are leading us down the avenue of expanding outside those boundaries and pushing beyond those limits.”
Wheat was critical of the outlet mall project that sat partially built for 11 years at Highway 99 and Kammerer Road before the remains were demolished and removed last year.
“The mall was not successful and that (mall) was the desire of our residents and really advocated by our first mayor and City Council,” she said. “But even if you look at the history of that (project), it was suggested something on the border of an urban service boundary would not succeed. And sure enough, that played out through the multiple promises of our leaders in our city.”
Wheat stressed that she is not a “no-growther.”
“I truly believe we can do it smarter and better,” she said.
Wheat believes that the city needs to place more emphasis on the issue of traffic.
“When you look at the citizen survey results that the city puts out every two years, what has been the No. 1 complaint of the residents?” she asked. “Traffic, and how has that been addressed? It’s been disregarded, even within our own General Plan when they approved the update.”
Wheat added that she has a different view on the traffic situation than the mayor and council members.
“I want to address the issues of traffic, but I don’t think it’s as easily solved or going to be solved like the mayor and council are trying to say,” she said. “Even with some of the changes that they are going to make, I don’t think that’s a solution.
“That’s why years ago I was advocating for our public transportation system. I looked at why young people aren’t wanting to drive, and we had more seniors coming into the population. So, it made sense to revisit that and look at it in a different way.”
Wheat also expressed disappointment with the condition of the city’s roads.
“When we look at the city of Elk Grove and the road conditions, we should be in much better shape,” she said. “However, the policies of our City Council have not been to really addressing the needs of our roads.”
Wheat referred to herself as a “strong advocate” for small businesses.
“I want to have some of that leadership for our small businesses here, that we don’t see so many spaces emptying out, that we nurture what we have, without putting so much out there that does not exist,” she said. “It was concerning and bothers me that we would look at front-loading infrastructure out to the (Southeast Policy Area) employment area, and the first project going in is more homes.”
Wheat also focused on the old Capital Nursery property, which was rezoned for housing.
“Our mayor and City Council didn’t hear what the residents had to say about the project that was going to go in next to them,” she said.
Wheat returned to the issue of the former outlet-mall site.
“The mall situation changed and now it looks as if a casino is going to go in there,” she said. “Our mayor and City Council, in my belief, did not do the best that they could do for the residents.
“Now, true enough, I believe that we’ve got to help our Native Americans, and I agree that we could help and lead and make a better life for them. Are casinos the absolute way to do that? I don’t know.
“But neither here nor there about the casino; what happened there was the people down there invested their money believing that they were going to get a mall and shopping, not necessarily believing that they were going to be buying next to a casino.”
Setting aside the controversy with the location of California Northstate University’s proposed hospital in the Stonelake neighborhood, Wheat stressed that residents of that area could lose the shopping center that sites at the hospital site.
Although she lost in her bid for mayor in 2012, when Gary Davis was elected mayor, Wheat noted that she gained valuable experience during her campaign.
“Many thought that I lost, but really I gained so much more,” she said. “What it did do was it reinforced to me the value of our community and the residents that live here and the rich diversity that we have, and really how much people really do care for one another.
“Since then I could have easily disappeared from the scene, but I value our community, and more importantly our residents.”
On being active in community issues
Remaining active in local politics, Wheat continues to be a regular public speaker at City Council meetings.
She said her passion for Elk Grove has kept her committed to those meetings and participating in opportunities to provide her input to the local government.
Wheat noted that she was very active in sharing her opinions for the city’s General Plan update.
“I thought it was very, very important that we be a part of that process,” she said. “I did spend a lot of time – so much that I contributed 218 comments to that document, in really wanting the absolute best for all of our residents in Elk Grove, not a certain population, not a certain group, but everybody that lives here and everybody that would come here in the future.”