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Elk Grove Citizen

Council Recognizes Donors, Names Planning Commissioner

Apr 18, 2024 10:08AM ● By Shaunna Boyd

The Elk Grove City Council recognized April as Donate Life Month, encouraging all residents to sign up to be an organ donor. Kyla Aquino Irving and Chris Mateo accepted the proclamation, both as representatives of Sierra Donor Services and as prior donor recipients who have received the gift of life through organ donation. From left: Councilmember Kevin Spease, Councilmember Sergio Robles, Mateo, Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen, Aquino Irving, Vice Mayor Rod Brewer and Councilmember Darren Suen. Photo Courtesy of Dave Soto Productions

ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - At the April 10 meeting, the Elk Grove City Council issued a proclamation recognizing April as National Fair Housing Month, in commemoration of the federal Fair Housing Act of 1968. 
“I just want to acknowledge it wasn’t that long ago that people of color weren’t able to buy a home in a certain neighborhood,” said Councilmember Darren Suen. “It’s nice to see that things continue to progress where we don’t have to worry about that in today’s society.”
Suen read the proclamation, stating that “the City of Elk Grove is proud of its commitment to fair housing, recognizes the need to affirmatively promote fair housing in its policies and practices, and will continue to work to identify and remove impediments to fair housing choices.”  
The proclamation was accepted by a representative from Project Sentinel, a nonprofit organization serving Northern California residents with housing issues. 
City Council also issued a proclamation recognizing April as Donate Life Month. Councilmember Kevin Spease read the proclamation and explained that “more than 100,000 Americans and 20,000 Californians are currently on the national transplant waiting list … and, on average, 17 people die each day while waiting for a lifesaving organ transplant.”
City Council encouraged residents to register as organ donors at the National Donate Life Registry ( or at the local DMV. 
The proclamation also recognized Sierra Donor Services, which serves Northern California by connecting donor families, local hospitals and transplant centers. In 2023, Sierra Donor Services helped facilitate 442 organ transplants that were made possible “thanks to the selfless generosity of 171 Northern California organ donors,” read Spease.
Kyla Aquino Irving and Chris Mateo accepted the proclamation on behalf of Sierra Donor Services. Both are kidney transplant recipients and Irving said, “We are both a testament to the miracle of organ donation.” 
Irving said that they use this month to “bring awareness to this cause, to thank the people who’ve passed on and given their organs as donors.” She explained that people of color make up 80% of the transplant waitlist in California but are also less likely to register to be donors, so she hopes to initiate more conversations about this issue in communities of color. 
Irving also said there were Elk Grove residents waiting for kidneys who were planning to speak at the meeting but were not well enough to attend: “So, we stand in their place, very fortunate to have had the gift of life, and just to let you know that the people who are waiting are right here in our neighborhood.”
Mateo dedicated this month to his best friend who died last year: “He was an organ donor and he gladly gave everything that he had to be able to save lives after he passed away. So, for him, for everybody else that’s willing to donate, I’m so thankful, because you give so much to so many lives with just one person and their willingness and ability to do that.”
City Council considered applications to fill a seat on the Planning Commission after long-serving Commissioner George Murphey announced his plan to retire once a replacement was appointed. Nine applications were received by the deadline: from Allan Veto III, Gus Vina, Ronald Washington, Brian Van Lente, Dave Preciado, Varinder Singh, Rachell Owen-Reinwald, Irfan Mehmood and Julie Kaur Singh. Many of them spoke during Public Comment to share their backgrounds and professional experiences. 
Mayor Bobbie Allen-Singh said, “This is not an easy decision. We have some amazing applicants.” She acknowledged that the group all had “diversity of experience, wealth of knowledge and a passion for our city.” Singh-Allen said that Murphey was leaving “big shoes to fill” and she thanked all the applicants for being “willing to step up and serve.” 
Mayor Singh-Allen said that she wanted a new commissioner who would represent the rural area of Elk Grove because that community “deserves a voice.” She also considered educational and professional experience, as well as community engagement and their time as an Elk Grove resident. But she said she gave the greatest weight to input from Planning Commission Chair Suman Singha and Commissioner Murphey, who both rallied around one candidate. So Mayor Singh-Allen recommended Varinder Singh for the position. 
Vice-Mayor Rod Brewer said that serving on the Planning Commission is not easy, as it requires intensive reading, research and communication: “Serious thought, serious consideration and real work goes into it.” Brewer said that he supported the mayor’s recommendation as Varinder Singh is from a rural community in Elk Grove, is engaged in the community and has “a willingness to learn and grow in that position in public service.”
With a majority of City Council consensus, Varinder Singh was appointed to serve on the Planning Commission. 
The next City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 24 at 8400 Laguna Palms Way.