SACRAMENTO — Citing health concerns, longtime Sacramento City Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell has announced that she will step down as the District 8 representative on June 23.
Ms. Pannell’s planned departure will mean District 8 residents will have someone without the last name Pannell representing them for the first time since 1992. Ms. Pannell’s late husband Sam served in the seat from 1992 until his death in 1997. Ms. Pannell has held office since 1998, and was last reelected for the post in 2012. Her term does not end until 2016.
When Ms. Pannell does leave office, thee seat will remain vacant until December. The question many observers are asking is just who will be in that seat at the end of the year?
Betty Williams, who ran against Ms. Pannell in the last election and lost to her by approximately 200 votes, said she will take another shot at running for the post.
“My prayers go out to City Councilmember Bonnie Pannell, I hope nothing but the best, and I pray for her speedy recovery,” Ms. Williams told the OBSERVER by phone. “But my plans have never changed to run again in 2016. It definitely has never left my mind.”
At the moment, Ms. Williams will have some company vying for the district seat that includes the Meadowview, Parkway, Jacinto Creek and North Laguna neighborhoods.
Larry Carr, who will be leaving his SMUD board of directors position this year, said his name will be on the ballot too.
Carr, a friend and supporter of Ms. Pannell’s, withdrew his name from consideration to run for a County Board of Supervisor’s seat recently.
“Yes. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it … I am running for the District 8 seat,” Carr told the OBSERVER in a telephone interview from his South Sacramento home.
“Bonnie called me and I told her that I would. She wants to see those projects that she started completed and she wants the community that she loves well-represented. If I win, I will see those projects through,” he added.
Ms. Pannell has been working tirelessly to complete the RT’s light rail Blue Line to CRC project to Cosumnes River College. She is also the overseer of the Delta Shores development, a large I-5 interchange improvement project.
Ms. Williams also said that she is aware of Ms. Pannell’s commitments and wants the best for District 8’s constituents too. There are other factors the district is faced with, including a high-crime rate, an issue Ms. Williams campaigned heavily on in 2012. Ms. Williams still resides in District 8.
“I’ve always felt that District 8 is close to my heart,” Ms. Williams said. “My plans to take it to the next level has never changed.”
Ms. Pannell was not available for comment, but several local reports claim that she is stepping down due to her current medical condition. She has been seeking medical treatment to correct issues with her voice. Her struggles to communicate have been noticeable at City Council meetings and other community engagements. Carr said he has been concerned with Ms. Pannell’s condition more than anything else.
“Right now, I don’t want to make this about me … we are all hoping Bonnie can get better,” Carr said. “The reason that she is stepping down is 100 percent behind her health. But she is getting expert medical care.”