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Rancho Cordova Independent

Dreams and Aspirations

Feb 06, 2024 04:33PM ● By Margaret Snider, photos by Margaret Snider
Mayor David Sander, fourth from left, poses with luncheon attendees (from left) Chris Lombardo, Robin Wood, and Lombardo’s son Jordan Lombardo, all associated with No Moss Softwash of Elk Grove; and on the Mayor’s right, Rancho Cordova resident and artist Evelyn Tsuha.

RANCHO CORDOVA, CA (MPG) - This year is David Sander’s fifth term as Mayor of Rancho Cordova, in concordance with his one-year term as President of the National League of Cities.  The NLC represents the 19,000 cities, towns, and villages of our country in Washington.  “I am only about two months into this job (as president of NLC), and already have seen a number of opportunities come to our city that we wouldn’t have otherwise had.”

The luncheon was filled with more than 170 guests, a record attendance.  Sander started out with a scientific experiment carried out by the guests at their own tables, as an illustration of cities being scientific laboratories of democracy.

“We have cities because thousands of years ago somebody,” Sander said, “probably two families, decided to live close to each other and determined, ‘You know what?  We’re better off when we do that.’”  More people and families joined, tested the hypothesis, and it worked.  Sander broke down the city concept into three pillars: Partnerships, Service, and Innovation. 

Of Partnerships, he said, “We’re not talking about the traditional ways that cities or governments look at their residents.  Because usually . . . a city leader would say, ‘Our residents are like our customers.’ I think that is fundamentally untrue . . . We are partners in this.  And this is how we’ve tried to govern Rancho Cordova.  And that’s the ideal of a democratic style laboratory.”

Evelyn Tsuha, a Rancho Cordova resident, found this concept interesting, as she said later. “I do a lot of experimenting . . . when I cook, and I also do experimenting when I do my art. So, I like that part, that we’re all experimenters, we’re all doing laboratory work.”

About Service, Sander pointed out, “If you are in this room, you are already community leaders.”  That could be through your involvement with your kid’s school, your church, another nonprofit, or maybe in your work.  “When people come and visit Rancho Cordova . . . they always say, ‘You have something special there with regard to your commitment to community.’ They don’t know what it is, but it’s Service.”

Sander gave the Cordova Community Council as an example. It is an organization that puts on events, that brings in other nonprofits to do things they can’t do on their own. Sander said he has found no true examples of a similar organization in other cities, and every time he explains it to his fellow leaders, “Everybody wants a Community Council.” 

Rancho Cordova does not have an arts commissioner.  “But we have the MACC,” Sander said, “an entire building we’ve remodeled for the arts.”  The MACC hosted a Smithsonian exhibition in Rancho Cordova.  A documentary film festival happens every year.  There are documentaries produced every year, children’s art happening in all of our schools, and two theater companies. There are poetry contests, a poet laureate, and a community band.

“We have a symphony, for crying out loud, in Rancho Cordova,” Sander said.  “No government planned that.  We never planned that, the arts commission that we don’t have, they could never have planned that.  Who did that? Our residents did that.  How did they do it?  We just allowed them to innovate.  We just provided funding, knocked down barriers . . . Part of my job as NLC president is to spread that idea.”

There are six big housing projects under development now in Rancho, with additional projects in the works.  “We’re also seeing some multifamily housing as well as some senior retirement (housing).” The project at Mather Fields Road and Folsom Boulevard will be in the design phase this year.  Mather Veterans Village, the housing for homeless veterans will go into phase 4 this year and will result in over 200 veterans housed at that facility.  Many new businesses have moved into Rancho Cordova:  UC Davis headquarters, Solidigm, and Clutch and many smaller businesses have moved in, with more planning to come.

The Zinfandel pedestrian overcrossing is scheduled for completion in 2025 and will be “iconic, beautiful, it will probably be a destination for people to go look at,” Sander said. 

Chris Lombardo, owner of No Moss Softwash, attended the luncheon. When he was in the Air Force, his first duty station was Mather Air Force Base. He now lives in Elk Grove, but he said, “I have a tender spot for Rancho Cordova. The dreams and aspirations of the Mayor really, really touched my heart today, and I want to be a part of that.”

David Sander President of the National League of Cities

The screen shows Mayor David Sander, also President of the National League of Cities, addressing the NLC on the subject, “Cities Are Laboratories of Democracy.” This was also one topic of his talk at the Rancho Cordova Luncheon.