Meet the Mayor

by | Dec 1, 2017 | Alumni Profiles, Fall/Winter 2017-18

Steve Ly ’96 became mayor of Elk Grove last year — also becoming the country’s first mayor of Hmong heritage. “I discovered during my campaign that it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are — we all want same things,” said Ly, whose family immigrated to the U.S. from Laos after the Vietnam War and became farmers in California’s Central Valley. “Working families want good schools for their kids, to have a home, to have the potholes filled.” Ly began as a community organizer in Sacramento. He got into politics as a way to effect change. Leading up to his current role, he served on the board of the Elk Grove Unified School District, then the city council, and then became vice mayor. Despite a population nearing 170,000, the mayoral job is only part time, and Ly continues his work with the Sacramento Board of Education, providing academic support to those in juvenile hall. “Nothing beats impacting a young person. If I can’t help them be successful, the next step is prison,” he said, stressing the importance of education. “The foundation of who I am today was built at UC Davis. Being an undergrad is so critical to developing who you are and the opportunities you could have.”