By Amber Enderton
In the summer of ‘99, when I was 13, my mom and I moved from San Francisco to Elk Grove. The newly built subdivision was close to Joseph Kerr and Elk Grove High, as well as Elk Grove Park and Jennie McConnell Park. When we moved in, we were also told that there would soon be a new mall opening up nearby. In San Francisco, we lived in relatively close proximity to a big mall, so the mall was welcome news and something to look forward to. Fast forward 18 years, and we’re still waiting for that darn mall.
Since we moved up here, e-commerce has really taken off. You can order groceries, games, hair products, clothing, and just about whatever you want straight to your door. I’ve never been a big shopper, and I hated going shopping with my mom. I would always retreat to the KB Toys at the first opportunity to check out the video games. But where is our mall in Elk Grove? While most of neighbors who had bought their houses new with the promise of a nearby shopping mall have moved, some of us remain; and I would still certainly like to see that mall built.
However, I’m not 13 anymore. I’m in my early 30’s now, and I am far more capable of thinking past my own petty desires than when I was in my early teens. Walmart, notorious for their anti-union efforts and low salary, is one of Elk Grove’s largest employers. A new mall would provide hundreds of jobs, as well as bringing new income into the city; breaking Walmart’s stranglehold. However, an even greater draw that will provide for even more jobs is the Wilton Rancheria casino and resort. It will bring an estimated 1,700 to 2,000 news jobs to our city, jobs that Mayor Steve Ly has vowed to fight to make sure are union jobs. This is good news, the entertainment and business it will draw to our city will be huge. While the money made in the casino and resort will go to the tribe, the money made in surrounding businesses, including the mall, will stay in Elk Grove.
The Wilton Rancheria Tribe is a part of this community, too. Slaughtered in mass in the 1800’s before being removed from their lands and forced to attend schools that stripped away their culture, then later having their tribal status stripped away in the 1940’s by the US government; they’ve been through a lot. In 2009, the federal government gave them their tribal status back, and now begins the long, slow process of healing. This is their land, stolen by force by our settlers over a hundred years ago. Their blood was spilled so that we could squat here today. Our bloody crimes must never be forgotten; the debt we owe them is tremendous. Their tribe currently suffers from poverty, high suicide rates, and a lack of a community hospital. This casino would be a boon to their community, it would bring in profits to sustain them and raise them out of poverty. It would allow them to build hospitals, and pay for mental health services to lower the number of suicides. It is our moral duty to allow them to build this casino on this land, on their land.
We stand at a turning point in our city. While we became a city in 2000, we’ve still retained a small town mindset. Now we have a chance for some real development, development that will boost our city’s economy and pave the way for a vibrant new night life. If you check the Twitter accounts of our young adult population, they can’t wait to get of this city. It’s boring, there is nothing to do. The casino and resort will change that. It will bring much needed entertainment to our city. It will bring much needed jobs and businesses to the city, as well as the completion of that long promised mall. Most importantly of all, it will allow the Wilton Rancheria Tribe to gain some much needed financial stability.