The Sacramento city voters have spoken

Jeff vonKaenel

The Sacramento city voters have spoken. Darrell Steinberg will be our new mayor, and city council members Allen Warren, Steve Hansen, Eric Guerra and Larry Carr all will be returning.

None of the city council races were seriously contested. No one even ran against Guerra. Despite a long list of mayoral candidates including Tony “The Tiger” Lopez and fighting single mom Councilwoman Angelique Ashby, Steinberg won in a landslide, capturing 59 percent of vote.

While the Sacramento council will be the same, it will be a whole new ballgame with Steinberg replacing disgraced Mayor Kevin Johnson. While reasonable people can agree or disagree about the arena or the strong-mayor initiative, anyone who has listened to the police-recorded transcript of Johnson talking with Phoenix teenager Mandi Koba will probably agree that a 10-foot pole should be kept between him and their underage daughter. And it appears there are numerous other women who wish a similar pole had been placed between them and Mr. Johnson.

Now that we have a new mayor, the new mayor and council should appoint the new city manager. In a puzzling and petty move, Johnson led an effort to replace City Manager John Shirey before the new mayor could take office. Most would agree that Shirey has done a reasonable job. And Shirey has made it clear that he would be willing to stay until the new mayor was in place. And maybe even longer. As you may remember, Shirey was hired on an 8-1 vote. Kevin Johnson being the one.

As popular as Steinberg was on election night, the marijuana tax was even more popular—even if it didn’t actually succeed. Measure Y, which would have put a 5 percent tax on marijuana businesses and then used the money to support youth programs, won 65 percent of the votes. That was just short of the two-thirds needed to pass it. The council should pass the tax and fund needed youth programs.

The bigger loser on election night was the Sacramento Metro Chamber. The chamber established a polarizing political action committee which endorsed Ashby. While Ashby may have had overwhelming support among members of the chamber PAC, I doubt that she had such support among chamber members. To make matters worse, instead of running a positive campaign explaining why they supported Ashby over Steinberg, they funded sleazy attack mailers on Steinberg, which the Sacramento Bee called false and misleading.

And now after running this embarrassing campaign, their candidate only received 26 percent of the vote. Now the chamber has to work with the new mayor. And they will have to deal with many upset chamber members who do not approve of these sleazy campaign tactics. The chamber should provide a forum for a nonpartisan discussion or debate of the important issues, not campaign in the gutter with false and misleading ads.

The voters have spoken. The chamber and city council should listen. And act accordingly.

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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.