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Familiar Faces

Former singer turns to political consulting

By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
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Stephanie McGann-Jantzen is a political consultant who was born and raised in Sacramento and now resides in El Dorado Hills. She lived in Irvine for about six years while her father worked on his PhD, and held a job as a lobbyist for a health care organization in Southern California. She returned to Sacramento because her father entered as a candidate into a congressional race, and ran in the Democratic primary with Bob Matsui who won.

How did you become involved in politics?
I was raised in politics with a father who was a Democrat. Former Speaker Willie Brown and former legislator, now governor, Jerry Brown would hang out at our house for dinner. I wound up landing in politics: local, state and federal races.  I became a Republican as a young woman. My dad lovingly refers to me as his “DNA misfire”. I think it’s hilarious.
I fought to get a work permit at the age of 15 to intern at the State Capitol, and I found my calling. I loved policy, I loved politics, and I was awestruck at the incredible people who were serving in our legislature. Regardless of political party, they were all smart, intelligent, and while certainly active in their own parties, they understood the art of compromise. Ultimately, the people of California won because their representatives worked hard to get the best they could for their districts, and for the entire state.

What do you like most about your job?
I love helping good people get elected. My frustration is that it’s virtually impossible to get outstanding people to run for office on the state level. We have the angriest electorate we have ever experienced. They feel so removed from affecting elections that their vote ultimately doesn’t matter, and regardless of both, the future is bleak and nothing will change. I’m on a mission to change that.

Who’s someone you have consulted in the past?
I was Roger Niello’s political director, campaign manager and RV driver (seriously…during his last race for state senate) for over a decade. Roger is one of the finest human beings I have ever known. He read every single thing he had to as a county supervisor and legislator in order to make an informed and good decision for the people he represented. He took his responsibility seriously, and I will forever respect him for that.

Tell us about your family.
I still consult on races of all levels of government, but my energy is focused on being a mom. My children, Madison and Michael, are amazing and kind little people in the world, and the fact that I am able to have a schedule that keeps me around for homework, kissing owies (both physical and emotional), makes me blessed. My husband Ryan’s business is in Folsom. He and his three partners own Pacific Investment Consultants. Ryan is also an avid cyclist like me and a member of Team Revs.  We have been married for 11 years.

What hobbies do you have?
Both of my children in the last six months have been diagnosed with gastrointestinal issues. My daughter with Crohn’s Disease, and my son, with Eosinophilic Esophagitis, colitis and gastritis. They’ve been through multiple procedures under anesthesia for the sake of proper diagnosis.
Because of this, my hobby has become food. The more I learn about these diagnosis and the more I study the benefits of organic foods, grown out of the ground and not a factory, the more I learn that food actually is medicine. I’m studying the benefits of not just the obvious fruits and vegetables, but the benefits of things like Indian spices and juicing. I joke with my mother who is so different than me politically, practically, and more, and she’s been a health food nut all of her life. We do eventually become our mothers.
Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Joel Fuhrman are two doctors who understand the importance of what we eat and how we eat. I truly believe my children’s diagnosis are reversible. Dr. Yinka Davies is the pediatric gastroenterologist who is overseeing both of their cases, and she is a huge proponent of organic, farm fresh foods, organic meats, etc. Dr. Davies is seeing so many children with so many gut issues, she’s overwhelmed in her practice. With her help and the information available through so many sources, I’m going to get my kids well. It’s a full time job right now but I’m seeing that gluten, dairy and soy tend to be huge sources of internal inflammation to our bodies. I no longer enjoy the benefits of snacks in a box like Goldfish, crackers, snack bags. But in the case of my two children, it will change their lives. It’s so hard to see your children in pain, pain that you cannot change. There’s no greater motivator than the health of your children.

What causes are you passionate about?
I have a project that I am working on quietly that should launch in January. It’s a culmination of my passion and commitment to get people involved in the political process and to better understand that every vote counts. That who you vote for can change the future of the economy, of our schools, and the world our children will inherit. It’s my belief that our region needs to come together and establish an identity for the sake of working together. That while each and every community feels its own individual sense of identity, we as a region can benefit from pulling together…for the sake of transportation, infrastructure, and even air quality improvements. I would have never cared or understood any of the above if it weren’t for my exposure to all of this as a child.

What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you?
In my early 20s, I was given a life-changing opportunity. Pete Wilson decided to run for governor and I was offered a Northern California Advance position to support his wife, Gayle Wison, in her appointments and travels throughout our region. That night I accepted, I had to go home and figure out what “advance” was and what I just said yes to. Seriously. One night, I had six black Crown Vics outside of my apartment, with placards, that gave these cars the right to sit overnight and not be towed. My team was meeting at these cars at 5:30 a.m. to drive in a motorcade to the Sacramento International Airport to pick up Pete and Gayle and his staff.
I woke up at 4 a.m. I looked out to check on my cars over coffee. The cars were no longer there. I can’t remember if I actually threw up, but I’m pretty sure I did. I eventually found the guy who towed them and we got them back in time, but it was awful.
I also had the opportunity to advance an event for President Gerald Ford in La Quinta President Ford arrived and got out of the car with the Secret Service, and he and I walked around an entire hotel together to get him to his speech. I will never forget it. On the walk back to his car, he gave me a hug and said “good job, kid”. I got to say, “Thank you, Mr. President”. In my world, that was very cool.

What are some things about you people might be surprised to learn?
Most people don’t know that when I was in my late teens, I talked a new company from Southern California into giving me a job that I had literally no experience in. “Wet Seal” arrived in Northern California and I became the District Visual Merchandiser. I loved that job.
I almost attended California Institute of the Arts.
I was in a band for a few years in my late teens to early 20s. I was lead singer, backup singer and played keyboards. We played in clubs up and down the valley. I think I miss that the most. I love music. All genres.