The race for the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors District 5 seat was generally free of tension until Sept. 29.
Candidates Pat Hume and Jaclyn Moreno traded allegations against each other during their closing remarks at the televised forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Sacramento County that afternoon.
Hume accused Moreno’s supporters of spreading misinformation about him and “stooping to fearmongering rather than talking about the real-world issues facing the next supervisor.”
In turn, Moreno attacked her opponent for declining to take a position on the abortion rights issue at the forum. She also claimed that Hume was supported by a “Christian nationalist” group, which prompted him to quickly say “false” to her.
“If my opponent cannot even talk about the No. 1 issue in our country right now, which is a woman’s right to choose, how would he be able to govern with transparency and accountability?” Moreno said.
The contention came at the end of the forum that covered topics such as homelessness, public safety, climate change, and the Measure A tax measure for funding transportation projects.
Hume currently serves as an Elk Grove City Council member while Moreno is the board president of the Cosumnes Community Services District, which operates the Cosumnes Fire Department.
Both candidates decided to run for county supervisor after District 5 Supervisor Don Nottoli chose not to run for reelection this year after serving for nearly 30 years. Nottoli endorsed Hume in District 5’s general race.
At the League of Women Voters’ forum held at the supervisors’ chambers in Sacramento, the discussion moved to the topic of abortion rights and whether the candidates would protect women’s access to reproductive health care and abortion services in Sacramento County if they were elected supervisor. Three months ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the 49-year-old Roe v. Wade decision, allowing states to enforce tough restrictions on abortion access. California has moved to reinforce abortion access.
Moreno earlier declared herself to be “the pro-choice person” in the race during her introduction at the forum. In May, she told the Herald that she had a legal abortion when she was 19.
“Women are under attack in this country,” she said in the forum. “We are losing our right to bodily autonomy, and whoever is elected in any position in California or in the rest of the country, we need to make sure that person strongly advocates for the women’s right to choose.”
Moreno also stated that she could advocate for more services to expand women’s access to reproductive healthcare, if she’s elected supervisor.
Her opponent opted to not take a position at the forum since abortion access is “settled law” in California.
“It’s not something I believe is within the purview of a supervisor’s race and so I’m not focusing my time on that,” Hume said.
He added that he would rather focus on issues brought up by voters such as public safety, homeless camps, and the economy.
After the moderator moved to the topic of climate change, Moreno countered Hume on the abortion issue.
“It’s 40 days until the election, 40 days,” she said. “The fact that my opponent has not come out with an opinion on a woman’s right to choose is not only problematic, but it’s frankly angering.”
Where the candidates stand on public safety, homelessness, Measure A
During the forum, Hume and Moreno said that top county issues that concern voters include public safety and homelessness.
Hume said that residents and business owners generally don’t feel safe, due to a rise in crime.
“This was a story we would be reading about in San Francisco and now we’re seeing it in our city,” he said. “The No. 1 responsibility of government is to provide for the common defense and make sure that people feel safe, and we’re failing at that.”
Hume called for the county to look at ways to augment its law enforcement and see how officers can work with professionals to deescalate and manage situations.
Moreno also said that violent crime is on the rise and said that law enforcement should be ensured they have the tools and resources they need. But she added more needs to be done to fund crime prevention and youth programs.
The candidates were divided on the county’s new ordinance that prohibits homeless people from camping in areas like the American River Parkway, and other places like flood levees and near schools and libraries.
Moreno said that she does not support the ordinance.
“Without a place for people to go, people will be just shifted from one place to another,” she said.
The candidate later called for an internal audit to see where the county spends its millions of dollars on the homeless issue and to align that funding with a clear plan.
“We’re spending a lot of money on this issue with very little results, and I want to know why,” Moreno said.
In contrast, Hume supported the board of supervisors’ move to enact the ordinance in order to establish control. He said that encampments harmed the American River Parkway.
“Time will tell whether or not it’s the right move, but, thank God, it was a move,” he said.
The candidates also differed in their views on Measure A, the county ballot measure that would raise sales taxes by a half-cent and collect an estimated $8.5 billion to fund transportation and roadway improvements.
Hume, who served on the Sacramento Transportation Authority board, said that the measure will pay for important projects. He recalled the board’s experience in trying to get a similar measure approved by voters.
“I think it’s a bad time to be asking for a tax increase, no matter what the use is,” he said. “But I have fought to bring in the taxes for those uses because I know our infrastructure is important.”
On the other hand, Moreno said that she would support Measure A if its plan is guaranteed to reduce the carbon emissions from the construction of new roads, and that sprawl in the county’s rural, southeastern communities would be avoided.
During their closing statements, both pitched to voters why they are most qualified to represent District 5.
Hume, who has served as an Elk Grove City Council member and planning commissioner for 22 years, said that he’s ready to work for constituents in his first day in office.
“The voters deserve someone who will deliver results on the issues that matter most: safe neighborhoods, clean streets, and a compassionate plan to address homelessness – not someone looking to divide with cheap tactics,” he said.
Moreno said that her supporters are tired of the status quo.
“We need a new voice, a new perspective – what we’re doing right now is not working,” she said.
Responses to heated forum
In the week after the forum, Amar Shergill, who is the California Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus chair and a close ally of Moreno, submitted a joint statement to Hume that condemned him for saying that abortion rights is not a county supervisor issue. The letter noted that the county is one of the region’s largest healthcare providers.
“The fact that you do not think this is a county of Sacramento issue calls into question whether you fully understand the scope of the county’s vital role in the health and wellbeing of its residents,” the statement declared.
This letter was co-signed by local elected officials such as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and three Sacramento City Council members.
The Herald contacted Moreno to clarify what she meant by “Christian nationalists” who support Hume’s campaign. She pointed to The American Council, a faith-based advocacy group that recommends Hume for county supervisor.
The Folsom-based organization’s president, Tanner DiBella denounced Moreno’s allegation that it is a Christian nationalist group.
“Moreno, like others who are hostile to religion, label any organization with a religious conviction as Christian nationalists to infer that we seek to install biblical law in America and get only Christians elected to office,” he told the Citizen. “Not only is this inaccurate, but it’s also slander. We do not support or condone any framework that would coerce or force religious beliefs on people.”
DiBella mentioned that his organization has endorsed candidates of different faiths, as well as atheists and agnostics. He added that most candidates on its recommendation list are not necessarily endorsed by it, but they closely assign with the community values it supports.