City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

November 16, 2011
Riding redistricting success, LGBT club endorses Hansen in Sacramento City Council race

Armed with momentum early in the election season, the city's main political organization representing the LGBT community made its endorsement this week in a closely-watched City Council race.

The Stonewall Democrats - the largest Democratic club in the region - endorsed City Council candidate Steve Hansen this week in the race for District 4. That seat, covering midtown, downtown, Land Park and the River Oaks neighborhood of South Natomas, is being left vacant by two-term Councilman Rob Fong.

Stonewall followed that endorsement with a $2,500 donation to Hansen, a downtown resident and advocate.

The District 4 race is seen as a key opportunity by the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community to help elect City Hall's first openly gay council member. It's also an attractive seat, as it covers some of the city's more high-profile neighborhoods.

Earlier this year, a City Council resolution crafted by Fong recognized the central city grid as an LGBT "community of interest" during the city's redistricting process. The neighborhood is one of the few LGBT communities of interest in the country. Advocates hope that combining the gay-friendly downtown and midtown areas with liberal Land Park will help them get a gay candidate elected.

Hansen is one of many vying for the seat.

Joe Yee, chair of the city's planning commission, announced last week that he was running. Yee served as Land Park's councilman for a brief time in 2000 on an interim basis.

Also in the race is Land Park attorney Phyllis Newton, who is gathering support from the city's business community. While Fong's departure for the seat set up a frenzied response, Newton said she was prepared to run even if Fong remained in the race.

The Stonewall endorsement doesn't just come with the sizable donation, although club president Dan Roth told me the group will probably cut Hansen another check before the June primary.

"We'll also provide the tools that campaigns need and that's volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls, that's individuals to write checks and to provide the massive amount of work it takes to win a race for City Council," Roth said.

Hansen said it was "awesome to have the support of my friends, family and community."

"To have (Stonewall) on my side, there's nothing more humbling than when people who love you and believe you then support you," he said.

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at rlillis@sacbee.com

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