KXJZ file photos/Ben Adler
Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo and fellow candidate Kevin Johnson traded barbs about the city’s crime problem Tuesday. The comments came hours before the city council will debate whether to place an anti-gang tax measure on the November ballot.
Johnson started the back-and-forth by saying Fargo has changed her mind on whether Sacramento has a crime problem.
Johnson: “If you had a mayor who said consistently, crime has not been a problem in Sacramento, and then all of a sudden, we think $17 million is gonna fix a problem now she’s flip-flopped her position on, that’s real – we need to talk about that.”
In response, Fargo said public safety has always been her top priority. She said it’s the residents that have changed their minds on crime – in part, because Johnson’s campaigning on the issue scared them.
Fargo: “It changed actually because Kevin Johnson kept talking about it. I don’t think it helped to tell people that they should be as afraid here as Oakland. But that’s where we are.”
The quarter-cent sales tax measure the council will discuss tonight would fund gang prevention, intervention and enforcement efforts. Fargo supports putting it on the ballot; Johnson opposes it.
UPDATE: Late Tuesday afternoon, the Sacramento Police Department said the city's crime rate has dropped over the first six months of the year -- when compared to the same time period last year.
The Debate Over Debates
After agreeing to just two debates during the primary campaign, Sacramento mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson is now challenging Mayor Heather Fargo to three of them between now and the November election.
Johnson: “Let’s have an hour-long debate on pub safety exclusively. Let’s have an hour-long debate on education exclusively. Let’s have an hour-long debate on the economy and economic development exclusively.”
Johnson says those are the three topics he’s heard residents talk about most.
Fargo says she’s called for debates the entire campaign, and says she’ll answer “any question, any time.”
Fargo: “I’m glad he’s come around; I’m glad he’s willing to debate now and attend more community forums and meetings and I look forward to those debates.”
But she says the debate formats and questions should be set by the groups that propose the forums – like media and community groups.