SOUTH SACRAMENTO – South Sacramento lost one of its most dedicated champions Tuesday with the passing of former City Councilmember Bonnie Pannell. Councilmember Pannell died of primary progressive aphasia, a version of Parkinson’s disease. She was 68 years old.
Councilmember Pannell first ran for the Sacramento City Council in 1998, upon the untimely death of her husband, Samuel C. Pannell, a veteran civil servant known for his fairness and dogged-determination to see that the Black community got a fair shake. Bonnie Pannell built upon that legacy and created one of her own — one of tireless commitment and devotion.
Pannell went on to represent District 8 for 16 years. She often listed economic development, better education and safer neighborhoods as her top priorities.
During her time on the Council she fought successfully to see the expansion of the local light rail system into Meadowview and South Sacramento, connecting residents to more opportunities. She also helped spearhead the $65 million revitalization of the former Franklin Villa housing community, now known as Phoenix Park, after it was plagued with drugs and violence.
For many years, Bonnie Pannell organized the Meadowview Jazz & Cultural Festival and made it one of Sacramento’s most anticipated entertainment events. She also shared insight on a number of area boards, including the Sacramento Regional Transit Board, the Sacramento City Library Authority, the City’s Personnel and Public Employees Ad Hoc Committee, the Sacramento Transportation Authority, Paratransit Inc., the Freeport Water Authority, the American Heart Association, and the Florin Road Partnership.
Bonnie Pannell stepped down from the Sacramento City Council in June 2014 due to her illness, which had impacted her speech.
As a lasting tribute to both Pannells, the Meadowview Community Center in the heart of South Sacramento, is now known as the Sam & Bonnie Pannell Community Center.
Click Here to download a free copy of the 2014 Commemorative Edition honoring Bonnie Pannell
By Genoa Barrow
OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer