Registration Now Open for the PAL Holiday Run

By Ashley Downton, City of Rancho Cordova  |  2019-11-21

The Police Activities League (PAL) is holding the Holiday Run with Santa leading the fun. Photo courtesy City of Rancho Cordova

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Lace up your running shoes, put on your Santa hat, and join the annual Rancho Cordova PAL Holiday Run on Saturday, December 14!

The run remembers our fallen officer Mark Stasyuk and features a 5K for adult and youth, 10K for adult and youth, and 1.2 mile family walk and run through Rancho Cordova. All runners will receive a long sleeve race shirt, commemorative race medal, and Santa hat. Registration begins at 7:30 AM, and the races begin at 8:30 AM.

Rancho Cordova PAL is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is part of RCPD’s Youth Services Unit to build relationships between RCPD and youth through a variety of programs, at no cost to the kids. By registering for the run, you support the more than 3,500 local children that participate in PAL programs annually.

“The Holiday Run is a great way for us to come together to celebrate the holiday season in Rancho Cordova,” said Sergeant Rich Merideth. “Even more importantly, the event ensures we can continue to provide free, educational and leadership programs to make a difference in the lives of our kids.”

The Holiday Run is also a toy drive to support RCPD and Rancho Cordova PAL’s Christmas in Cordova program. You can support 300 families in need this holiday season by donating an unwrapped toy, as well as wrapping materials, at the event.

Lane and road closures will be in effect along the race routes between 6 - 11 AM on Saturday, December 14. The following roads will be closed:

International Drive between Zinfandel Drive and Prospect Park Drive; Bridgeway Drive between International Drive and Disk Drive; Disk Drive between Bridgeway Drive and Prospect Park Drive; Prospect Park Drive between Tower Park Drive and International Drive; All other roads along the race routes will have lane closures.

RCPD has designated entrance and exit access routes so residents can come and go from the Capital Village neighborhood during the event. Visit for maps.

Register today and learn more at For questions, contact Rancho Cordova PAL at 916.875.9627 or email


Rancho Cordova's History

The Gift of Time Together

Story by Shaunna Boyd  |  2019-11-21

Russ’s father Woody developed a friendship with Ted Danson while visiting the set of Becker. (Left to right) Russ Woody, Claude Woody, and Ted Danson. Photo provided by Russ Woody

A Son’s Story of the Journey through His Father’s Terminal Illness

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The relationship between a son and his dying father is beautifully chronicled in Russ Woody’s new book, Tuesdays with Ted. The memoir is equal parts heartwarming and heartbreaking as it details the final months of Claude Woody’s life and the lasting impact that time had on his son.

Claude, who was always known as Woody, served as a Marine in WWII and then worked for PG&E, a job which required the family to move to a new area of California every couple years. Russ spent his teenage years in Fair Oaks, attending Bella Vista High School and then interning at a Sacramento TV station during college.

An Emmy and Golden Globe winning TV writer and producer, Russ has worked in television for more than 30 years on shows including Murphy Brown, Cybill, Mad About You, The Drew Carey Show, and The Middle. But it was the time he spent writing and producing Becker that would turn out to be his most significant project.

In 2001, after Becker had finished its third season, Russ learned that Woody had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — a terminal neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, leading to gradual loss of motor function as the muscles in the body atrophy. In the book, Russ wrote that Woody “would die by slow, gradual asphyxiation” as the muscles around the lungs ceased to function. Woody’s form of ALS was aggressive and started in his throat; he quickly lost the ability to speak and had to type on a machine called a LightWRITER to communicate. Russ described it as an “incremental death. His body was going away one piece at a time … while his mind — healthy as ever — was being held hostage.” Woody eventually lost the ability to swallow and was unable to hold his head up without a neck brace.

It was 17 months between Woody’s diagnosis and his death in September 2002. “Since his diagnosis,” Russ wrote, “I’d been marking time, first in months, then weeks, then days and there were still more days to be had, to be shared. Not many, but there were more, and I wanted them, those days, those hours, however many were left.” Russ described that time with his father as “the most meaningful year and a half of my life.”

To spend as much time as possible with Woody, Russ moved him to a home in Studio City nearby his own and brought him to the set of Becker for filming each Tuesday during Season 4.  The cast and crew of Becker treated Woody like family, and Russ was overwhelmed and grateful for the love and kindness they showed his father. Woody was even an extra in one episode and was the inspiration for an episode about ALS. During that time, Woody developed a special friendship with the star of Becker — Ted Danson (hence the book title, Tuesdays with Ted). Russ said that Woody had been a fan of Cheers, so “the idea that Ted Danson would become his pal was kind of flabbergasting to him. And Ted just adored him. It was really sweet to see. … He would just go out of his way to be with my dad.”

Russ wrote the book to both remember the precious time he spent with his father and to help his sons understand, since they were so young at the time. “I think by the time my father died, they were both 4 and 6, so they were in the middle of it … but they didn’t really understand what was going on,” said Russ. The boys, Henry and Joe, have some memories of that time with their grandfather: bunk beds and pancake breakfasts, backyard forts and indoor racetracks. Russ said his main objective was “to put the story in perspective for them.”

“In the last week of my dad’s life, I had a conversation with him; I asked him about his regrets,” said Russ. “He thought about it and he said he wished he’d spent more time with me when I was little.” At that time, Russ was working long hours in the writers’ room at Becker, and he then made the decision that he would stop writing for sitcoms so he could have a more flexible schedule: “I wanted to spend that time with my boys, and I got to do that.”

The experience with his father had a significant impact on how he relates to his own sons: “I’m so glad that both he and they got to spend that time together. … I think about my memories of him, and conversations I had, and the conversations I had with the boys. … It does affect you.”

Woody “had a great capacity for taking what was and living with it,” said Russ, grateful for every moment he was able to share with his father. In the book, Russ wrote that “with the ticking clock of ALS, the time I did spend with him was all the more intense. It forced me to recognize everything, to say everything, and that was a blessing.”


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Marines’ Best Friend Still Serves

Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2019-11-21

Marine Kelly Parks and companion Ingrid visit Sacramento Veterans Hospital, Mather.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Retirement did not signal an end of watch for US Marine bomb-detector dog Ingrid. For five years, the canine served the US Marines and reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. When her handler died in a 2014 Afghanistan car bombing, Ingrid suffered deep scrap-metal wounds. On recovery, she was re-trained for a new life in service.

The German shepherd is now companion to fellow Marine Kelly Park (54) of Sutter, CA. Both Purple Heart warriors drew admiring glances at Sacramento Veterans Hospital last week. When the thirsty dog snagged a water bottle, removed its top, poured and slurped from a gutter, a bystander exclaimed that surely no smarter dog ever drew breath.

“She’s smart and she’s sensitive,” agreed her boss. “If I drop something, Ingrid brings it back to my wheelchair. She senses when I’m going to have a seizure, before even I know. She puts her paws and head on my chest and warns me to brace myself. She’s playful as a baby but when her jacket (with official Marine insignia) is on her, she knows she’s on duty.”

Separate tragedies united hero and heroine. On his 19th tour of duty, Chief Warrant Officer Third Class Park and comrades were ambushed during a house-to-house search in Iraq. Park pushed his captain and a radio operator from a grenade. Its explosion destroyed his left leg and caused a concussion that still brings seizures.  At 49, the Marine came home with a Purple Heart, a Navy Cross, a Bronze Star and with one leg gone.

Bred in Virginia, Ingrid was selected for bomb detection as a puppy. By her sixth year, she had served the 4th Marine Pacific Fleet and earned a campaign medal. She and her unit also shared a Presidential Citation. After injury and retirement, the Wounded Warrior Project re-trained her to detect seizures in veterans.  “My neurologist recommended me for a service dog,” recalls Park. “When I first saw Ingrid’s red coat, I thought she was a big fox. She bounded right up to me and we bonded instantly. I’d had dogs before but none like her. We’re together 24-7.”

The veteran once suffered a seizure and fell from his chair in the street. His companion howled for help but wouldn’t let anyone touch him. “The Sheriff showed up and she recognized his uniform and trusted him,” says Park. “If I’m seeing my doctor, she sniffs out his surgery; then she sits down and gives me a look to say it’s okay. Anytime the doctor touches me, she watches him like crazy.”

Ever loyal, ever dutiful, Ingrid nevertheless has time for fun. “She learned to play soccer in the Marines,” explains Park. “She’s a terrific goalie. I live by a school and the kids come every afternoon and ask if she can play soccer with them. They love her and she loves them. But she’ll only take food from me. I’m the only one she trusts.  My life isn’t easy but Ingrid makes it better. I’d built a wall around myself, but with her in my life, I’ve opened up to people again. Without Ingrid, I wouldn’t want to be here.”

Learn about the Wounded Warrior project at

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SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert announced results of the 3rd annual “Operation: Hot Spots,” a coordinated countywide sting operation aimed at reducing the demand side of human trafficking by targeting sex buyers.

Community-based organizations from the Sacramento Together Against Human Trafficking coalition voiced the need to crack down on sex buyers who fund and sustain the sex trafficking trade.  In response, DA Anne Marie Schubert led the effort to organize this countywide operation, with a commitment from law enforcement to conduct operations throughout the year to reduce sex trafficking.

The District Attorney’s Office coordinated a training for law enforcement agencies with experts on human trafficking victims (adults and juveniles), suspect tactics/manipulations, trafficking investigations, and evidence collection for prosecutions as well as community resources and services available to victims of human trafficking.  Victim advocates are involved in the sting operations to assist with services.

In October and November 2019, the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, Sacramento Police Department, Rancho Cordova Police Department, Folsom Police Department and Elk Grove Police Department conducted street and hotel sting operations.  The FBI, Probation Department and District Attorney investigators also participated.

The results were a total of 19 arrests, all for soliciting for prostitution.

Those convicted of soliciting another for the purpose of buying sex or agreeing to engage in an act of buying person to engage in an act of prostitution, face a maximum penalty of 180 days in county jail, will be subject to search and seizure, and may be ordered to stay away from the involved locations or known “stroll” areas.

DA Schubert states, “Sacramento Together continues to work collaboratively to fight human trafficking on many fronts, including reducing the demand side through city and countywide stings targeting sex buyers.  This coalition also continues to maximize their efforts to prevent and better serve victims of sexual and labor exploitation throughout our region.”

Sacramento Together is a coalition of more than 30 community-based organizations, law enforcement, state and local public agencies, meeting regularly and working together to combat human trafficking and exploitation in our community.  The coalition works to combat human trafficking and exploitation by working together to treat, educate and remove children and young adults from life threatening situations.  Working collaboratively, the coalition coordinates and maximizes community response efforts as well as all of our regional assets to better serve victims of sexual and labor exploitation.  The collaboration also increases public awareness about human trafficking. For more information, visit


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Tis The Season To Be "Merry And Bright!"

By Judi Naill, Sacramento Valley Chorus  |  2019-11-21

The Sacramento Valley Chorus includes women who live in the greater Sacramento area including Placer, Nevada, Yolo, San Joaquin, Yuba, and El Dorado counties. Photo courtesy Sacramento Valley Chorus

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Sacramento Valley Chorus is preparing for a "Merry & Bright" season!  You and your family will enjoy an afternoon of music, laughter, food and giving by attending the Merry and Bright production. The chorus, directed by Master Director Dede Nibler, can hardly wait to share this special performance with you on Saturday, December 7th, at 2:00 pm at La Sierra Community, 5325 Engle Road, Carmichael. 

Sacramento Valley Chorus, a Chapter of Sweet Adelines International, recently celebrated their 40th anniversary.  Approximately 80 women sing in four-part harmony, a cappella style. They will be singing songs from their repertoire in addition to favorite holiday songs.  The chorus is honored to be joined by the 2019 graduates of Harmony Academy who will perform with the chorus just for this show. Add more Merry and Bright to the season when several quartets perform. To satisfy your sweet tooth, a dessert dash will be thrown into the mix for fun and excitement.

This show is expected to be a "sell-out", so get your tickets early. Ticket prices, including hors d'oeuvres, are only $25.00. Tickets may be purchased from any chorus member or get information online at

Women are welcome to attend rehearsals throughout the year on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 PM at Arena Christian Center, 4027 N. Freeway Blvd, Sacramento. For more information about the chorus or show, check the website:

International Headquarters – PO Box 470168 – Tulsa, OK 74147-0168 – 918/622-1444 – FAX 918/665-0894

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See the Annual Winterdance Celtic Christmas Celebration

By Stuart Mason, Molly’s Revenge  |  2019-11-21

The Murray Irish dancers from Portland, Oregon will present Winterdance along with Molly’s Revenge and vocalist Amelia Hogan. Courtesy Molly’s Revenge

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - On Friday, December 6, Molly's Revenge with guest vocalist Amelia Hogan and the Murray Irish dancers will present Winterdance, an evening of music, song and dance associated with the festive season at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. The performance will include Christmas songs both old and new, all played with a Celtic twist, and something new for our regulars, starting at 7:30 pm.

The core of the Winterdance show is the dynamic Celtic trio called Molly's Revenge. The band recently released their 14th album titled The Lucky Set. This year they will be joined by guest vocalist Amelia Hogan, who sang with the show last year, along with the Murray Irish dancers from Portland. As always, this 14th Annual Celtic Christmas Celebration will capture the traditional spirit of the season and warm the hearts of all who attend.

Molly's Revenge is comprised of a trio of Californians who have dedicated their lives to Celtic music. David Brewer has been playing whistle, bodhran, and four types of bagpipes for over 20 years. He studied in Scotland at the Ceolas Music School in South Uist under the tutelage of some of the best pipers in the world. His authentic and unique style of playing has earned him the reputation of being one of the most accomplished pipers on the West Coast.  

John Weed is a classically-trained violinist who switched to playing Irish fiddle about 25 years ago. John lived in Ireland for a time, and taught fiddle workshops at the Flowing Tide International Music School in Doonbeg, County Clare. He attended the Frankie Kennedy Winter School in Dunlewey, County Donegal where he has studied with Ciaran O'Maonaigh and Dermot Mcloughlin. In recent years his fiddling has grown to include American, Quebecois, and Swedish fiddle styles.

Guitarist Stuart Mason has been collecting and performing traditional music for over 40 years. He has appeared on stage from Ireland to China performing Celtic, Nordic, old-time, and his own compositions, which have won awards from the West Coast Songwriters Association. He also leads workshops and classes in traditional music techniques at music festivals and camps.

Guest vocalist Amelia Hogan sings traditional, Irish, Scottish, British, American and contemporary folk music with lilting grace and subtle power. She transports you with a spell into another time and place, where the banshee wails and lovers embrace. Haunting melodies, stirring passion, and evocative storytelling are the hallmarks of Amelia’s music. In her words:

"My story begins with my ancestors in Ireland, Scotland and Britain more than a hundred years ago. Their languages and cultures were threatened by hardship and politics. They left their homes out of desperation, to search for a better future for themselves and their children. They left their families, their friends and all they knew in hopes of finding a home in this new place.

"With them they brought the stories, songs, dances and customs that might sustain them through long voyages, poverty, loneliness, and despair. When they arrived, many immigrants did not find the opportunities they had believed they would in the New World. Indeed, they often found themselves in similar straits to the ones they’d left behind.

"I’ll sing the songs of their old ways, to remind you of where we come from. This is an Irish-American story, a story of hope, survival, and victory. Our Winterdance show reminds all of us of the light and laughter that can be found in the darkest time of year."

St. Michael’s Episcopal Church is located at 2140 Mission Avenue, Carmichael, CA. For more information or to get tickets visit or call (831) 818-5021

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RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - On Wednesday, November 27, the City of Rancho Cordova and KP International Market are celebrating the grand opening of the region’s largest ice skating rink: the All-America City Ice Rink!

In June 2019, the National Civic League awarded the City of Rancho Cordova with the title All America City 2019; Then BJ Yu, Owner of KP International Market, shared his plans to sponsor an ice rink during the holiday season, the city agreed to help sponsor this holiday landmark which, as a result, was named All-America City Ice Rink.

The All-America City Ice Rink will be a holiday destination this season, offering not only a 4,500 square foot ice rink, but a carnival, concessions, food court, FREE pictures with Santa Claus, holiday light spectacular, as well as character visits from Elsa and Anna, Elf on the Shelf and more.

The City of Rancho Cordova is committed to creating a vibrant and inviting community for its residents and for the visitors from throughout the region. The Ribbon cutting ceremony will be from 8 am – 9 am at KP International Market, 10971 Olson Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.

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Homeless Outreach Team Lends a Hand

Photos and Story by Margaret Snider  |  2019-11-21

Homeless Outreach Team panel members spoke at length at the November Rancho Cordova Luncheon (from left) Gabriella Yost, Homeless Navigator; HOT officers Deputy Bobby Ranum and Deputy Matt Blanco; and Chief of Police Chris Pittman, leader of the panel.

Collaborating to Make the Community Safe

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Rancho Cordova has undertaken a collaborative approach to the issues of the homeless in this area. A panel addressed this subject at the November Rancho Cordova Luncheon.  Chris Pittman, Rancho Cordova Chief of Police, led the discussion. Other panelists were Russ Ducharme, Neighborhood Services Manager with the City of Rancho Cordova, Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) officers Deputy Bobby Ranum and Deputy Matt Blanco, and Sacramento Self-Help Housing Homeless Navigator Gabriella Yost.

“Today we’re going to be talking specifically about our Homeless Outreach Team,” said Pittman, “but that doesn’t mean that they are the only ones dealing with this issue.” Components of the HOT team are the Police Department, code enforcement, MCE cleanup crew, the Homeless Navigator, along with partnerships with other organizations and programs:  Cordova Recreation and Park District, Homeless Assistance Resource Team (HART), Folsom Cordova Community Partnership, school districts, and Roads Home Veterans Navigator.

Pittman spoke of the “broken window” theory. If there is a building with a broken window there is a high likelihood that more windows will be broken if that is not fixed.  It’s basically, “dealing with the small stuff before it becomes bigger stuff.”  Because small things are easier to see in the community and neighborhood in which they occur, the citizenry can report them, they get taken care of and do not expand into bigger problems.

Who are the homeless?  Ducharme said that the officers take surveys out in the field. Based on that information, 86% of the homeless population in Rancho Cordova that were surveyed have ties to Rancho Cordova, 69% have lived in the Rancho Cordova region for around 10 years. “The majority of the homeless population are our folks,” Ducharme said.  “We know them, we have a rapport with them, we’re trying to get them into services as much as possible.”

The Point in Time (PIT) survey that is conducted every other year, shows a head count of approximately 250 homeless in the Rancho Cordova area. This was an increase of 17% over the last PIT survey, while the Sacramento region in general had an increase of 58%.  Ducharme said that the surveys showed the reasons for being homeless to often be mental health issues, addiction, or a lifestyle choice.

About Ducharme’s statement of the reasons for being homeless, Yost said, “All those are correct.” But she added that the homeless are also those who are laid off work and struggling to find work again.  There are rent issues, eviction issues, incarceration, loss of a family member.  One in five homeless in Sacramento County, Yost said, are on fixed incomes and are being priced out of houses they’ve been in for years.  Yost is in constant contact with the Rancho Cordova homeless, with 70 to 80 active clients.  She works with HOT, learning what each of her clients needs, and helping “navigate” the resources available.  “My goal is to get these individuals successful and self-sufficient while also being responsible members of society,” Yost said.

Ranum and Blanco are specifically assigned to HOT.  “As residents, business owners, and employees, you are our eyes and ears,” Blanco said.  The two respond to CPTED issues:  Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design.  “For example, better lighting, trimming trees, limbs, branches, correct signage around a building to indicate no trespassing,” Blanco said.  “When you throw all these together, it does make a huge difference and we’re seeing a lot of success.”

The MCE contractor searches out homeless encampments, picks up trash, abandoned shopping carts and other evidence of the “broken window.”  Patrol units are out there 24/7.  They talk with citizens who are calling about complaints, but they can’t necessarily handle the long term solutions.  “That’s what me and Deputy Blanco are here to do,” Ranum said.  They also work closely and regularly with Yost.

Citizen reporting can be done through the FreshConnect app.  Type in Fresh Connect on your app store and it will show you the Rancho Cordova logo where you can get the app and report problems.  You can also contact the HOT officers at 916-362-5115 or e-mail  The Homeless Navigator Gabriella Yost can be contacted at 916-591-4093, e-mail


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Folsom Lake College Presents its 2018-2019 Annual Report

By Kristy Hart, Folsom Lake College  |  2019-11-21

FOLSOM, CA (MPG) – Folsom Lake College (FLC) has released its 2018-2019 Annual Report, “Transforming Lives through Quality Education,” which encapsulates the work of the college, the FLC Office of Philanthropy, and the Harris Center for the Arts for the academic year of July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.

The report highlights the accomplishments and achievements of Folsom Lake College’s diverse body of students, faculty, and staff. “As a twenty-nine year veteran with the Los Rios Community College District, I have seen this college grow from a seedling of an idea into the well-respected institution it is today,” said college president Whitney Yamamura. “Now, as I enter my third academic year serving this institution, I have an even deeper understanding of what a special place this is.”

Report highlights include:

The completion of the college’s updated Facilities Master Plan, which will provide a solid foundation for addressing the long-term facility needs of the college’s three campus locations: the main Folsom campus, the El Dorado Center in Placerville, and the Rancho Cordova Center. The next scheduled construction project will be a new science building on the main campus;

The expansion of the college’s inmate education program, which offers college courses and certificate programs in partnership with Mule Creek State Prison, Folsom State Prison, and Folsom Women’s Facility. Over 750 under-served incarcerated students have participated, which has removed over 2,600 hours from sentences at an estimated savings of $2.5 million to taxpayers;

The Harris Center for the Arts, the regional visual and performing arts center located on the college’s main campus, reached a momentous milestone of its one millionth ticket sold, in the midst of a season that saw 452 events welcoming 185,000 patrons and topping $7.5 million in ticket sales. In addition, 7,500 local K-12 students were served by the ClassACTS! school matinee series.

Over $800,000 was graciously donated to the college and the Harris Center for the Arts via the Los Rios Colleges Foundation for philanthropic initiatives including student scholarships, the Rancho Cordova Promise Program, the Innovation Center makerspace, veterans programs, intercollegiate athletics, and the arts.

To view the 2018-2019 Annual Report, go to:


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Local Firefighters, Teamsters, and Hundreds of Voters Back Jack in Bid for 2020 Seat

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - Jack Zwald is not wasting any time in his bid for a seat on the Rancho Cordova City Council.  Even though the election for this race takes place in November of 2020, the financial professional and long-time community volunteer has started talking to voters in earnest now, garnering impressive results.  Two influential organizations, Sacramento Area Fire Fighters Local 522 and Teamsters Local 150, have already announced they are backing the first-time candidate.

“I’m honored that local firefighters and the Teamsters, who represent local working men and women, decided to support my candidacy so early. I welcome them as partners as we strive to take Rancho Cordova to the next level, developing a new economic strategy to create new jobs and kick opportunity into high gear,” said Jack Zwald.

In addition to early organizational support, hundreds of Rancho Cordova voters are already committed to supporting Jack for city council. Jack is serious about providing quality representation on the city council for Rancho Cordova residents, so this past August he started walking neighborhoods and talking directly to voters about their concerns and his vision for Rancho Cordova. He has already knocked on 3,000 doors, securing hundreds of supporters. Jack hopes to speak with every single voter in the city to ensure residents make a fully informed choice for city council.

Jack works as a budget manager at the California Department of Finance; he oversees the state’s $3.4 billion public health budget. He manages the finances of programs increasing access to healthcare and fighting infectious diseases. Jack is also a member of the Sacramento County Public Health Advisory Board, serving as Vice Chair last year. In Jack’s time on the board, he built a partnership between the county and the Los Rios Community College District to reopen women’s health clinics.

Jack is also the Past President of Rancho Cordova Kiwanis, raising thousands of dollars for scholarships for high school seniors, community college students transferring to four-year colleges, and adult learners seeking a GED. For more information, visit


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