New Leader Emerges in Sacramento Mayoral Race


With a few votes still uncounted, Flo Cofer has taken the lead over Kevin McCarty and Richard Pan. Incumbent Steinberg has termed out.

With March 5 primary election results almost finalized, a new leader has emerged in the Sacramento mayoral race where fewer than 100 ballots remain unprocessed, according to recent results from the county registrar of voters.

Flojaune “Flo” Cofer now leads with 29 percent of the votes, or 30,261, which is around 8,000 more than opponents Kevin McCarty and Richard Pan, who each trail with 21 percent. Steven Hansen follows closely behind with 20 percent, according to March 22 results at 1:37 p.m.

Results on March 11 showed Mr. Pan on top, holding a 349-vote lead over Ms. Cofer . Now as votes settle in, a run-off election will almost certainly match Ms. Cofer against Mr. McCarty.

Facing issues of homelessness and public safety, some Sacramento residents are hoping for a change in leadership, as they say past leaders are to blame for many of the city’s challenges.

In an interview earlier this month, resident Kristina Rogers, who is president of a neighborhood association near the Capitol, told The Epoch Times she believes Mayor Darrell Steinberg and District 4 Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela are at fault for many of the city’s present public safety concerns.

“The biggest issue has been this lack of support of law enforcement and police … their attitude about public safety, it’s not the same as everyone else’s, so bringing back some reasonable candidates is going to bring back some common sense,” she said.

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In a December 2023 lawsuit against the city, Sacramento County District Attorney Thien Ho cited multiple occasions in the past few years in which Mr. Steinberg and Ms. Valenzuela allegedly have prevented enforcement action against the homeless, illegally parked RVs, or encampments. In the suit, Mr. Ho claimed that in 2019 the mayor stopped the clearing of an RV encampment under what has since been called “Darrell’s directive,” resulting in worsening conditions.

In District 4, Phil Pluckebaum leads with 50 percent of the votes over Ms. Valenzuela, who has 46 percent. The two will face each other in the November runoff. Mr. Pluckebaum is running on a campaign of “safe neighborhoods” and “breaking the cycle of homelessness,” according to his campaign website.

Mr. Steinberg, the incumbent mayor, termed out after serving since 2016, leaving the spot up for grabs.

Ms. Cofer has advocated against initiatives to remove the city’s homeless camps in her past press releases, where she has called for solutions such as developing more affordable housing and increasing protections for those on the brink of homelessness, methods favored among other progressive leaders like the current mayor.

“How many times are we going to try to criminalize poverty before we realize it is a bad idea?” she said in a Dec 11 press release of her own.

But residents including Ms. Rogers say they are not convinced.

“Police have been defunded, crime has risen, drug use and ‘harm reduction’ have destroyed business corridors, and the leaders make excuses. We can expect the same from Flo Cofer,” Ms. Rogers told The Epoch Times in a recent text message.

In her recent press release, Ms. Flo challenged the district attorney’s “threats to criminalize homelessness,” saying Mr. Ho’s recent actions would clear homeless encampments without providing housing solutions.

But as stated in his lawsuit, a lack of action by the city prompted his legal challenge.

In a June 2023 letter to the city, Mr. Ho alleged that employees from his office had been assaulted and threatened. He asked the city to help get the homeless off the streets and into shelters, and Mayor Steinberg allegedly agreed. But according to the lawsuit, months later nothing changed and, in fact, things only worsened, with another employee threatened and one woman sexually harassed since then.

Also in June 2023, a Sacramento Superior Court judge sent a letter to the city, alleging daily incidents of “physical and verbal assault, public sex acts, open fires, nudity, urinating and defecating on walkways” near the courthouse, which has interfered with residents’ “access to justice.”

Mr. McCarty is an Assembly member for California’s 6th Assembly District, which encompasses most of Sacramento. A Democrat, he previously served on the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Commission before serving on the City Council for a decade, according to his biography. As mayor, Mr. McCarty says he would help find “real solutions” to address homelessness and make neighborhoods safer, according to his campaign website.

Updated election results are scheduled to be released March 29 at 4 p.m., then final results April 2 at 4 p.m.


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