The State Hornet

South Sacramento pastor wants to change status quo with state Senate run

‘I’m not a career politician’

Photo courtesy of Genesis Church Media

By Estefany Nuñez
February 11, 2020

For the last 21 years, Tecoy Porter Sr. has been serving his predominantly Black congregation at Genesis Baptist Church every Sunday. Recently, the third-generation pastor announced his first run for public office by running to represent the sixth district in the 2022 California State Senate election.

The Sacramento State alumnus, who received a bachelor’s degree in music in 1993 and a masters of business administration in 1996, said he is not only a pastor but a community leader as well. Porter also received a Doctorate of Strategic Leadership from Regent University’s School of Business and Leadership.

“The Black church in its history has always been in front of the civil rights movement,” Porter said. “It's been the hub of the Black community for so many years, it’s probably the last truly Black-owned thing for our community.”

Porter’s church resides roughly 100 yards away from where Stephon Clark was shot and killed by police in 2018. Porter said he felt his church had to do something for the community after Clark was killed, which led him to turn to more activism.

“We're so close, like right there in our own backyard,” said Porter. “I've marched, I've rallied, and I've advocated, but not to that degree in the past 20 years.”

Porter leads the Sacramento chapter of the National Action Network (NAN), a civil rights organization that was established by Rev. Al Sharpton in 1991. The organization focuses on criminal justice reform, police accountability, crisis intake, victim assistance, voting rights and youth leadership.

When Sharpton asked Porter to lead the Sacramento chapter in early 2018, Porter said he accepted immediately. According to Porter, he goes where he needs to go in order to serve and has since worked to advocate for criminal justice and education reform.

Porter said he would not be able to continue to lead the Sacramento chapter if he wins due to the conflict of interest it would pose, but that he would leave the chapter in good hands and will continue to work at his church every Sunday.

“Every Sunday, my livelihood is representing people,” Porter said. “I'm representing somebody, I'm in touch with others throughout the week being a pastor.”

Porter said he believes activism is the first step of getting involved into the political process but that advocacy and activism have limitations.

“You can get yourself to the door with activism, right? But it's hard to get in the room where the decisions are actually made, and cut through the clutter of other special interest groups to really get your voices heard in that,” Porter said.

(left to right) Sam Stanton, Sacramento Bee reporter; Jackie Rose, Rose Family Creative Empowerment; Stevante Clark, Stephon Clark’s brother; and Dr. Tecoy Porter, pastor at Genesis Church and the president of the National Action Network for the Sacramento Chapter; give a Q&A after the second screening of “'S.A.C.': A City and Family Forever Changed by the Police Shooting of Stephon Clark" at The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts in Sacramento, California, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Porter’s church resides roughly 100 yards away from where Stephon Clark was shot and killed by police in 2018. (Sara Nevis for Sacramento City College Express)

Sara Nevis for Sacramento City College Express

(left to right) Sam Stanton, Sacramento Bee reporter; Jackie Rose, Rose Family Creative Empowerment; Stevante Clark, Stephon Clark’s brother; and Dr. Tecoy Porter, pastor at Genesis Church and the president of the National Action Network for the Sacramento Chapter; give a Q&A after the second screening of “'S.A.C.': A City and Family Forever Changed by the Police Shooting of Stephon Clark" at The Sofia Tsakopoulos Center for the Arts in Sacramento, California, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Porter’s church resides roughly 100 yards away from where Stephon Clark was shot and killed by police in 2018.

Porter said he had the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. when attending a legislative policy conference for NAN with Sharpton where he was able to walk the Capitol halls.

“At that level, seeing that, I was like, I can do this, I can actually, you know, make a difference,” Porter said.

Porter said he prayed on the decision to run for state Senate and received support from his wife and his church.

“They said ‘go for it!’ and that’s what I’m doing. I’m jumping into it and I’m doing it because I think representation matters,” Porter said.

Lawrence Byrd has been a member of Genesis Baptist Church since 1996 and witnessed “Pastor T” take over the congregation after his father’s passing and considers him a friend. Byrd said he’s happy to see Porter run for office and thinks he’s a great communicator who has a passion for helping people.

“I appreciate the fact that he keeps God first in his life,” Byrd said. “He has never ever asked any of us to do anything that he is not willing to do.”

Byrd said he appreciates Porter’s consistent efforts to uplift the Meadowview community and his ability to stand up for what he believes in.

“He's the voice of South Sacramento and Meadowview community as a whole, you know, and I just think it’s great,” Byrd said. “He's not scared to talk about police reform, and the violence that goes on in South Sacramento, homeless issues, all of that, he's open to all of that, and willing to have the conversation.”

The race is on

porter

Photo courtesy of Genesis Church Media

Porter joins Sacramento City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby as another Democratic candidate in the run for State Senate District 6, which encompasses Sacramento and Elk Grove. Incumbent Richard Pan cannot run again due to term limits.

“I am not a career politician. Some will say that is a weakness, but I really believe that it’s a strength at this point, because how do you change the status quo if you don't actually change the status quo?” Porter said.

Porter said his experience advocating and understanding the needs of the community will help him step into a role where he would be able to create laws and ensure that people’s voices are being heard.

He said he expects there to be obstacles for normal people like him who jump into politics when competing with “big money from ages behold, and interest groups that you have to pander to.” He said he thinks someone like him could help disrupt that system and provide a “much needed change.”

One of the first things Porter plans to focus on if he wins the state Senate seat is COVID-19 recovery, because he said that people are still going to need relief from this pandemic in 2022.

Porter said everyday lives, jobs, the economy, housing, homelessness, business recovery, and general health were all affected.

“You have Black and brown people who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, in a huge way, which has shown that we've known all along our health systems are not fair, you know, to Black and brown communities,” Porter said.

Porter also said it’s important to make sure that all Californians have “equal, equitable access to health care, equal and equitable access to housing, [and] have a living wage.”

Porter also said he will “rightfully” focus on social justice, criminal justice reform and making sure that racial violence doesn’t have a place in policing, as these are the reasons he said caused him to enter politics in the first place.

“If I were to win, then I’d only be the second Black senator in California right now,” Porter said. “I come from the African American community that comes from an activist background. And so, just my presence, me being there, it will speak volumes.”

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South Sacramento pastor wants to change status quo with state Senate run