A history of leadership

Your Neighbor, The Problem-Solver

Dr. Richard Pan is a proud Sacramento father, small business owner, educator, physician and Asian-American, who has dedicated his life to building healthy communities no matter how difficult the challenge.

He is the child of Taiwanese immigrants and attended public schools. He lives with his wife – a dentist and small business owner – with their two young sons in Natomas.

Dr. Pan studied biophysics at Johns Hopkins University, earned a medical degree at the University of Pittsburgh, and completed a masters degree in public health at Harvard University. At each stage in his academic career, Dr. Pan was professionally trained to make quick, clear, strong judgments based on the data and facts.

Action in the Community

Dr. Pan moved to Sacramento 25 years ago to lead the UC Davis’ Pediatric Residency Program.

As he put down roots as a community leader, Dr. Pan founded Communities and Physicians Together, a grassroots program partnering pediatricians with local communities. He also co-founded Healthy Kids Healthy Future, which secured health, dental and vision coverage for over 65,000 children in the Sacramento region. 

In partnership with the Sacramento City Unified School District, he worked with school nurses and teachers to get children with special needs help so they can learn in school.

Dr. Pan led a local coalition to establish Federally Qualified Health Centers in Sacramento and established a pediatric clinic in Oak Park as one of the first sites. But as the Great Recession hit, the prospect of significant budget cuts loomed over the programs he built with the community.

He knew he had to do something to protect Sacramento communities. 

Winning Tough Fights

Dr. Pan doesn’t back down from the fights worth winning.

Against the tremendous odds of unseating an entrenched political operative with a million-dollar campaign, Dr. Pan organized a coalition of the community members, small businesses, unions, and health professionals to win election to the State Assembly in 2010. As a legislator, Dr. Pan worked to build confidence in California at a time when critics called the state “ungovernable” by stabilizing the budget and building reserves that staved off further budget cuts that threatened the health and safety of Sacramento families.

One of his first actions in the Legislature was to keep the City of Sacramento’s fire stations open after the city’s budget deficit threatened to shutter several public safety services. Dr. Pan worked with firefighters and then Vice Mayor Ashby to secure $90 million in new federal funds for emergency responders, including $2 million for Sacramento neighborhoods.



Dr. Pan has also been recognized for his leadership by labor unions, small business groups, and community organizations for leading several major accomplishments in the Legislature.

Accomplishments in the Legislature

  • Expanded health care coverage to 3 million Californians and eliminated the pre-existing condition.

  • Secured state funding and coordination to restore Sacramento levies against potential flooding.

  • Ensured Sacramento land could be developed into affordable housing in Sacramento neighborhoods.

  • Secured hundreds of million in new funding for new major construction in Sacramento’s downtown core, streamlined the approval process for Golden 1 Center to keep the Kings in Sacramento, and ensured living wage jobs would be part of new projects.

  • Led efforts around COVID-19 response, including economic recovery and supporting innovative programs like Family Meal Sacramento.

  • Led major legislative oversight to ensure state government meets its responsibilities, including pensions, mental health, health care, education, and workforce programs – allowing the state to save money and serve those in need.

Courage To Lead

In 2014, Dr. Pan once again beat the odds by taking on career politicians and winning the most expensive election to the State Senate in recent history through a coalition of business, labor, and community leaders, who wanted a change. In the State Senate, Dr. Pan focused on the fundamentals: health, safety and making our communities stronger. 

His groundbreaking work in public health led Time Magazine to name Dr. Pan a “hero” because of work to push back on extremsists fighting against polio, measles and smallpox vaccines. During this time he was stalked at his home and business, physically assaulted and constantly harassed, but none of that would stop Dr. Pan from working to ensure a healthy and safe Sacramento. 

Dr. Pan has also been recognized for his leadership by labor unions, small business groups, and community organizations for leading several major accomplishments in the Legislature.

As Mayor, Dr. Pan will use his focus on fundamentals to more concentration on oversight to make sure Sacramento is healthy and safe.