Everyone, please remain civil. 


Everyone, please remain civil.


Sound Off on Strong Mayor

This November could bring big changes to Sacramento governance, and we want to hear what you think

Back Discussion Topic Oct 21, 2014

One of the hottest items on the ballot this Nov. 4 is Measure L, or the “Strong Mayor Initiative.” The legislation would alter Sacramento’s government structure by essentially taking power away from the non-elected city manager and giving it to the mayor.

“Shall the City of Sacramento Charter be revised, on a trial basis, to establish: a mayor-council governance structure wherein the elected mayor oversees city operations and a budget subject to Council approval and override; an Ethics Committee; Code of Ethics and Sunshine Ordinances; an Independent Budget Analyst Office; a Neighborhood Advisory Committee; an Independent Redistricting Commission; and a three-term limit for mayors; with most provisions subject to voter reapproval by 11/03/2020?”  

Speaking to the Sacramento Press Club, here’s what District 4 City Councilmember Steve Hansen had to say:

“If we want public decision-making, a fair system…[the current system] is the system where the little guy has a shot - neighborhoods and small businesses.”

In favor of Measure L, Mayor Kevin Johnson’s wife and founder of StudentsFirst, an educational reform nonprofit Michelle Rhee, said:

“When you have a chief executive officer who is an elected official you bring more transparency… For disenfranchised neighborhoods this is actually better.”

What do you have to say? Sound off in the comments:


Rick Houston (not verified)October 21, 2014 - 5:01pm

I believe this issue will break down into two separate camps: those that believe they can influence the mayor directly (usually with campaign money or jobs for his acolytes), and the rest of us. There's no middle ground.

You have a mayor who has taken enormous amounts of money from developers for his campaigns (including this one), and the question I have is an easy one: What do these people expect for their money? I mean, they don't write checks for a hundred grand out of the goodness of their hearts, right? My answer is pretty easy as well: influence, and the ability to circumvent current system of checks and balances.

Why else would Measure L, in addition to giving the mayor a veto-proof (6 of 8 to overturn? Seriously?) city council, also strongly weakens any oversight authority? If you could sit back and design a system that practically encourages corruption, you couldn't do any better.

The sad part in watching this sideshow is how Sacramento's small business owners--as frustrated with the status quo as they are--believe this will solve some of those frustrations; how do they not understand that Measure L practically guarantees a "Pay for Play" system that benefits those with the most money to get what they want, and will leave crumbs for the rest.

Tim Foster (not verified)October 22, 2014 - 12:43pm

I have strong concerns that Measure L will shift the power in Sacramento away from the residents of the city to monied outsiders who stand to profit from the 'streamlined' political process that Measure L supporters promise.

One can look at the city's process to approve the Arena to see just how a Strong Mayor system would play out. Remember the Maloofs? Under a Strong Mayor system, Mayor Johnson could have had the city buy them an Arena, pushing through the 2010 project the Maloofs wanted (and he strongly supported). Instead, that deal was rejected, and in the end, Sacramento will get an Arena that is a much better fit for the community than the earlier proposal. That's how local government should work.

Sacramento's council system was created by voters just over 100 years ago to GET RID of a Strong Mayor system that had engendered deep-rooted corruption at the city level. The change that vote wrought was nearly instantaneous: Sacramento went from a poorly-managed, scandal-plagued city run by a 'Boss' Mayor to one that has seen very little corruption in the century since the council system was put in place.

We have a system that works well - the new Arena being a perfect example. A friend put it best: "Measure L is a solution in search of a problem." No on L.

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