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—and their two young sons in Natomas.

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

Action in the Community

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

As he established himself as a community leader, Dr. Pan founded Communities and Physicians Together, a grassroots program that partners pediatricians with local communities. Additionally, he co-founded 'Healthy Kids Healthy Future,' ensuring health, dental, and vision coverage for over 65,000 children in the Sacramento region.

In partnership with the Sacramento City Unified School District, he collaborated with school nurses and teachers to assist children with special needs, ensuring they could 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 a deeply entrenched political operative with a million-dollar campaign, Dr. Pan organized a coalition of community members, small businesses, unions, and health professionals, winning his election to the State Assembly in 2010. As a legislator, he worked to restore confidence in California at a time when critics deemed the state “ungovernable” by stabilizing the budget and building reserves to prevent further budget cuts that endangered 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. Collaborating with firefighters and then Vice Mayor Ashby, Dr. Pan helped secure $90 million in new federal funding for emergency responders, with $2 million allocated specifically for Sacramento neighborhoods.



Dr. Pan has been acknowledged for his leadership by labor unions, small business groups, and community organizations for leading several significant achievements in the Legislature.

Accomplishments in the Legislature

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

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

  • Ensured Sacramento land could be developed into affordable housing.

  • Secured hundreds of million in funding for new major construction in Sacramento’s downtown core, streamlined the approval process for the 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 defied the odds by defeating career politicians in the most expensive State Senate election in recent history, through a coalition of business, labor, and community leaders seeking change. In the State Senate, Dr. Pan focused on the fundamentals: health, safety, and making our communities.

TIME magazine named Dr. Pan a “hero” for his groundbreaking work in public health, particularly for his efforts to counter extremists opposing vaccines against polio, measles, and smallpox. Despite being stalked at his home and business, physically assaulted, and constantly harassed, none of these challenges deterred Dr. Pan from his commitment to ensuring a healthy and safe Sacramento.

Labor unions, small business groups, and community organizations have all acknowledged Dr. Pan for his leadership, particularly for his role in spearheading numerous significant achievements within the Legislature.

As Mayor, Dr. Pan will focus on the fundamentals, emphasizing oversight to ensure that Sacramento remains healthy and safe.