As 2021 gets underway, West Sacramento has new leadership in its mayor for the first time in over two decades. In the November 3rd general election West Sacramentans decided to go with councilwoman Martha Guerrero for mayor over incumbent Christopher Cabaldon, who held the seat for 22 years. Along with Guerrero, voters also went with her ally Norma Alcala for city council.
With two open seats for city council, Alcala took the second city council seat while Quirina Orozco was re-elected to the city council seat she’s held since 2016. Finishing third and failing to qualify for the two open council seats was Dr. Dawnte Early, who was endorsed by Mayor Cabaldon. The election of Martha Guerrero to mayor also left her council seat vacant and needing to be filled.
While Martha Guerrero is ready to lead West Sacramento in a new direction, council members Christopher Ledesma and Quirina Orozco, who are considered allies to former mayor Christopher Cabaldon, were playing politics as usual and not cooperating with the new mayor’s agenda. Mayor Guerrero’s attempts to fill commissioner appointments were met with objections from councilmember Ledesma.
When asked about councilmember Ledesma’s objections, Mayor Guerrero said, “I want to appoint fresh new faces, people with experience and expertise who can connect with the community. The council members had the opportunity to interview any of the 90 applicants that applied for these commissions and the two councilmembers (Ledesma and Orozco) recommended many applicants who would be reappointed for another term. I did select a few of Councilman Ledesma’s and Orozco's commission recommendations and it appeared Ledesma was not happy I didn’t select all of his recommendations.”.
The second agenda item, which was the hot topic of the night, was filling the vacant council seat left by the newly elected mayor. Councilmembers Ledesma and Orozco wanted the mayor to appoint third-place finisher Dr. Dawnte Early. However, Dr. Early was endorsed by former Mayor Cabaldon and would be considered the tie-breaking vote against any of Mayor Guerrero’s agenda.
The Sacramento Bee’s Marcos Breton chimed in with a piece titled “West Sacramento, why won’t you appoint this qualified Black woman to your city council?” What Breton fails to mention is West Sacramento has voted in 4 Latinos to the city council, and the previous mayor, Christopher Cabaldon, is Filipino and openly gay. But shouldn’t we be voting for people based on their experience and what they stand for, not the color of their skin and the way they were born? Many of the public comments also mentioned that Dr. Early received 8,000 votes which should qualify her to be appointed to the vacant council seat. Correct, she only received 8,000 votes and finished 3rd in a two-seat race.
Instead of agreeing to have Mayor Guerrero fill the vacant seat by appointment, council members Ledesma and Orozco will now force the city of West Sacramento to go to a special election which is projected to cost the city over $100,000. While West Sacramento’s neighboring city Woodland also has an open city council seat, they are planning on appointing someone to fill that seat, saving the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.
While Mayor Guerrero is working to appoint passionate, qualified, and committed residents to commissions, and filling a city council seat to move the city in a new direction, council members Ledesma and Orozco are costing taxpayers $100,000 just because they didn’t get their way. Instead of seeking consensus with the People's Choice, they are attempting to obstruct progress by demanding either appointing their preferred candidate or making the taxpayers pay $150,000 to ensure their candidate, Dr. Early, wins in the August 2021 election. This will secure their 3-2 vote against the Mayor.