The Sacramento City Council’s most high-profile seat officially has a new occupant.
State environmental lobbyist and activist Katie Valenzuela has unseated Steve Hansen, the city’s first openly gay council member, who’s held the District 4 seat since 2012. While there are votes left to be counted, The Sacramento Bee is calling the race in Valenzuela’s favor.
“It doesn’t actually feel like my feet are touching the ground right now if I’m being real,” Valenzuela said Tuesday after the latest batch of election results were posted by the county. The results showed Valenzuela had 53 percent of the vote with more than 13,000 votes tallied.
“It feels validating,” Valenzuela said.
Hansen conceded in an email to supporters Tuesday.
“Today, the County Elections update didn’t bring the news we hoped to get,” the email said. “While we are still waiting for an estimated 7,000 votes to still be counted, it seems like we will come up short in this race after an unprecedented negative campaign against me by my opponent and her allies.
“We had broad support from labor, small business, civil rights groups, diverse leaders of many stripes, and political leaders who know that our work together has produced positive change on issues, like LGBT rights, protecting immigrants, climate change, equal pay for women, homelessness, affordable housing, arts, parks, safer streets, better transit, good governance, and stronger neighborhoods. Ultimately, more voters want something different, and I respect their voice.”
Hansen will continue to serve on the council until the last meeting of the year, which is currently scheduled for Dec. 15, City Clerk Mindy Cuppy said.
In the months ahead, Hansen said he plans to continue working hard as the district’s council member representing downtown, midtown and Land Park.
Valenzuela plans to spend the rest of the year meeting with business owners and neighborhood leaders, including those who didn’t support her, to learn about their concerns and ideas.
“I know there’s a lot of work ahead so I’m looking forward to building relationships,” Valenzuela said.
Although she’s worked as a lobbyist for years, Valenzuela, 34, is still relatively unknown to many in the city’s political scene. She launched her grassroots campaign in April, with virtually nothing in her campaign bank account, she said. She and volunteers have been knocking on doors since May.
Valenzuela’s win will mean at least two women will hold seats on the nine-member council. Currently, Councilwoman Angelique Ashby is the only woman on the dais. Mai Vang currently holds the lead for the District 8 seat representing Meadowview, though that race will not be determined until November.