It’s good to be great

Jeff vonKaenel

There’s been a lot of talk lately about Kevin Johnson’s strong-mayor plan. A strong mayor has greater control over a small group of city staff members and has increased administrative power. It’s worked in some cities, but it’s not really what Sacramento needs.

What Sacramento needs is a great mayor. A great mayor has the ability to tackle critical problems by presenting a vision of how to solve them. A great mayor’s vision can galvanize the hearts and minds of the 2 million people who live in our region.

Last year, Oprah Winfrey put the spotlight on the plight of Sacramento’s homeless. It made our city look horrible and uncaring. Instead of trying to sweep the problem under the rug, Johnson took a different approach. Determined to find a solution, he asked the community to face the problem head on. It’s the kind of response a great mayor makes.

At the end of 2006, a task force including Mayor Heather Fargo, County Supervisor Roger Dickinson and Tim Brown (formerly of Loaves & Fishes) created a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. Building on that foundation, Johnson recruited an impressive group of area heavyweights, known as much for their passionate concern for the community as for their ability to get things done: Anne Moore, formerly of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency; Matt Mahood of the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce; the Rev. Rick Cole of Capital Christian Center; and local advertising guru Scot Crocker.

The mayor’s goal for the campaign: “We can end homelessness in Sacramento. That does not mean that no one will ever become homeless—the hard realities of life will not disappear. It does mean that when an individual or family becomes homeless, Sacramento will have a sustainable system in place to empower homeless citizens and guide them on the road back to permanent housing.”

Recently at Capital Christian Center, with Johnson’s encouragement, our community’s faith leaders met to begin coordinating plans to take up collections at their respective congregations on March 21. The goal is to raise $400,000 in order to receive $1.4 million in federal matching funds.

The meeting at Capital Christian was a proud moment for Sacramento and a proud moment for Johnson. Over the last year in office, he has repeatedly shown the drive to tackle some of our area’s longest-running problems, such as homelessness, supporting the arts and moving the city toward environmental sustainability. He has shown he definitely has potential to be a great mayor.

Now if he could just get off this strong-mayor thing.

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About the Author

Jeff vonKaenel
Jeff vonKaenel is the president, CEO and majority owner of the News & Review newspapers in Sacramento, Chico and Reno.