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This pediatrician aims to be Sacramento's first Asian American elected mayor

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A pediatrician and former state senator aims to break barriers by becoming the first Asian American to be elected mayor of Sacramento.

Announcing his bid: Dr. Richard Pan, known for his advocacy on public health issues — including vaccination mandates — announced his candidacy in June 2023 on "The Ronin Project Podcast" with Bill Wong. At the time, he acknowledged Jimmy Yee as briefly becoming the first Asian American mayor of the city following the death of Mayor Joe Serna in 1999. He said he aims to be the first Asian American elected to the position.

Early life and medical career: Dr. Pan was born in Yonkers, New York, and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to his immigrant parents from Taiwan, according to his California State Senate bio. After earning his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, he went on to complete a Master of Public Health degree from Harvard University.

Dr. Pan moved to Sacramento in 1998 when he joined the faculty of University of California Davis School of Medicine, eventually becoming director of the Pediatric Residency Program. He also established "Communities and Physicians Together," a program connecting medical professionals with underserved communities to address social determinants of health. Dr. Pan currently maintains a clinical practice as a pediatrician, treating children and advocating for their well-being.

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Foray into politics: Dr. Pan entered politics in 2012 when he was elected to the California State Assembly, representing the 40th District. During his time in the Assembly, he authored and championed numerous bills related to public health, gun control, environmental protection and veterans' rights.

In 2014, Dr. Pan was elected to the California State Senate, becoming the first Asian American to hold the position in Sacramento's history. Representing the 6th Senate District, he authored legislation such as AB 678, which preserved fire station funding during the recession, and SB 852, a pioneering law enabling California to produce its own insulin and prescription drugs. His advocacy for vaccine mandates garnered national attention and earned him physical threats from anti-vaccination activists.

Competitive field of candidates: In his candidacy, Pan faces opposition from notable figures such as fitness business owner and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jose Avina, epidemiologist and former Measure U Community Advisory Committee chair Flojaune Cofer, asset protection manager and disbarred lawyer Julius Engel, former city councilor Steve Hansen and California State Assemblyperson Kevin McCarty.

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