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Hometown girl wants to give back

Eileen JoycePatti Ingram flourishes a pin at a charity benefit golf tournament at the Alta Sierra Country Club Sept. 16.
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Born and raised in western Nevada County, Patti Ingram remembers the 1950s and ’60s, when long-standing businesses would close and new ones couldn’t make a go of it in downtown Grass Valley.

Ingram, 51, wants to serve a second term on the Grass Valley City Council to make sure that people and businesses can prosper while simultaneously preserving the city’s historic heritage, she said recently.

Vice Mayor Ingram is one of two incumbents running for re-election Nov. 5 against three challengers.



“Most people believe the biggest issue will be the pending annexations, even though they have been years in the making,” she said. “The proposed annexations have created fear in some and hope in others. Fear: urban sprawl; hope: housing and jobs.

“With the annexations come our continuing dilemma – traffic and circulation. It will be a tremendous balancing act, and it will take vision and commitment. I have both.”




Ingram sought her first political office in 1998 when former Mayor Mark Johnson decided not to seek another term on the council.

Her father, R. Peter Ingram, editor and publisher of The Union from 1968 to 1975, inspired her to enter politics, said Ingram, a senior escrow officer and manager with Inter-County Title.

R. Peter Ingram, who died in 1997, promoted the creation of Malakoff Diggins and Empire Mine state historic parks. He served on the Nevada Union High School board of trustees and the Sierra Nevada Memorial-Miners Hospital board of directors.

“I was very close to my dad,” Ingram said. “He was very devoted to this community.”

Her brother, Robert Ingram of Grass Valley, said he was not surprised to see his older sister enter politics.

“She loves local politics,” said Ingram, a forester with Sierra Pacific Industries.

After her election in 1998, Ingram said she spent the next several months learning the ropes. Bill Hullender, the former mayor who died this summer, was a mentor, she said.

Ingram usually votes with the majority on the City Council, but has been in the minority on some high-profile issues.

In 1999, she voted against hiring an attorney after the City Council questioned the high cost of water the Nevada Irrigation District supplies to the city’s water treatment plant off Alta Street. That would have led to a frivolous lawsuit, Ingram said.

More recently, she voted against plans to build a park on 12.7 acres at Mulcahy Field after neighbors persuaded the council to remove a barbecue area. “I didn’t think that plan was the best use for Grass Valley (residents),” she said.

Ingram said she spends up to 30 hours a week on city matters, a schedule that doesn’t leave much time for her pursuit of softball and golf.

Ingram has a 27-year-old child from a previous marriage and will soon be a grandmother. In May, she will marry John Spencer, a land surveyor and chairman of the Nevada County/Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce.


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