From Hopelessness to Expectation: An Interview with Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento

  • Monika Jansen
Keywords: West Sacramento, urban policy, local government, direct democracy, mayor, transitioning city, economic development, gentrification, interview


Christopher Cabaldon is the mayor of West Sacramento, a small town just over the river from California’s capital city, Sacramento. Mayor Cabaldon received his Master of Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) in 1994 as part of the inaugural class of the program at California State University, Sacramento. He first became mayor of West Sacramento in 1998, and he was the first mayor directly elected by the citizens of West Sacramento in 2004.

West Sacramento is growing rapidly. Since 2000, the population has increased by over 50 percent, nearly reaching 50,000 at the time of the 2010 US Census. Changes in West Sacramento have come from the development of Southport, a new master-planned residential neighborhood on the south side of the city, as well as infill development in the center of town and in established neighborhoods. Retail has also moved into West Sacramento where there previously had been very little, anchored by Ikea and Target. In 2000, the River Cats, a minor league baseball team, came to town and moved into a new stadium in West Sacramento.

On March 13, Mayor Cabaldon spoke with Monika Jansen of Policy Perspectives over the phone to discuss his MPPA, executive leadership and democracy at the city level, his TEDx Talk from 2014, and his vision for West Sacramento.

Author Biography

Monika Jansen
Monika Jansen is a first-year Master of Public Policy candidate at the Trachtenberg School where she is focusing on urban policy. She graduated from the University of California, Davis, in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in German, after which she immediately left the country. While living in Germany, she developed a profound interest in cities. Whether it’s housing prices, transportation and access, garbage removal, or local politics, she’s obsessed. After living in what can best be described as a prolonged vacation teaching English in Germany, she finally decided to come home to face the real world in 2011. Before moving to DC, Monika was a Safe Routes to School Coordinator in Sacramento, California, where she encouraged children and their families to walk and bike to school, taught bicycle and pedestrian safety, and wrote exciting reports recommending traffic safety infrastructure and ways to better connect existing bicycle facilities.