Katie Valenzuela: Why I am running for Sacramento City Council in 2020

Affordable parking downtown isn’t easy to find, so when I used to drive into work I would park fairly far away and walk into the office. Often, on those days, I would pass a man who appeared to be around my age at a spot where I think he slept each night. One morning, the day after I’d had a haircut, this man smiled at me when I passed and said, “nice haircut.”

He was being friendly, and I thanked him, but the encounter left me stunned. How is it possible that this man had no place to sleep, that I’d seen him so consistently out there that he recognized when I had a new haircut? Why wasn’t more being done?

My dad was a Vietnam veteran who got me engaged in community work when I was in middle school. He taught me that communities deserve a seat at the table in decisions that will impact them. When it came to helping to solve community problems, he believed that where there’s a will, there’s always a way.

I started my career as a youth activist, then as an education advocate, and then as an organizer for environmental justice. I helped build gardens throughout Sacramento, eventually working to form the Sacramento Urban Agriculture Coalition to advocate for policies to make it easier for people to grow and sell food.

I’ve worked with community leaders for common-sense transportation policies and transparency in the city budget process. I’ve helped start new neighborhood associations, and worked with other neighborhood leaders to build and sustain the Sacramento Neighborhood Coalition. My work — both personally and professionally — has always been about lifting up community voices to address systemic issues preventing them from living long, healthy lives.

While those are all still issues I care about, several years ago it became clear to me that my work to improve communities was helping to increase the real estate appeal of those neighborhoods, resulting in higher home values that were pushing out the very people I was trying to help. So in 2016, I pivoted my volunteer work to focus on building the Sacramento Community Land Trust to create a tool for neighborhoods to fight displacement.

I’m running for the District 4 seat in Sacramento City Council in 2020 because the time to act is now. If I’m elected, I want to use the skills and experience I’ve gained to move quickly on housing and homelessness. I will fight for rent stabilization and just-cause eviction policies, as well as resources to help homeowners keep their homes. The biggest barrier to building affordable housing and shelters is access to land, so I will work with other public agencies and the SCLT to create a strategy for the thousands of publicly held buildings and vacant lots.

I will also work with each neighborhood to ensure residents have what they need to thrive — be it a community center that’s open when kids are out of school, a new market for food, or creative strategies for promoting the development and growth of small businesses. As we saw when the devastating wildfires made it hard for everyone in Sacramento to breathe, we’re in desperate need of strategies to reduce emissions and to plan for future climate emergencies, and I plan to work with the members of the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change to identify and implement ambitious actions to achieve those goals.

I think Sacramento has the potential to show what it looks like to continue to grow our economy while also ensuring our communities are engaged in that process and end up better for it. The first step is to elect people who can help us get there. I want to put my 20 years of experience to work for you. I’d be honored to earn your support.


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Katie Valenzuela
Katie Valenzuela
Katie Valenzuela is a renter in midtown running for Sacramento City Council, District 4. She works at the Capitol and spends her spare time helping to run the new Sacramento Community Land Trust. Katie was born and raised in Oildale, an unincorporated town in Kern County, and has over 20 years of policy and community organizing experience. She’s also the proud mom of two rescue dogs, Buster and Chevy.