No Fireworks in Final Mayoral Debate
KXJZ file photo/Jen Picard
Sacramento Mayor Heather Fargo and her runoff opponent, Kevin Johnson, squared off for their third and final debate last night – just over a week before Election Day. They focused on the budget, crime and even abortion.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
There were no major flare-ups or sharp exchanges. Instead, the two candidates calmly and clearly laid out their records and plans for the future. Fargo was more specific than before on how she’d balance what’s expected to be a $45 million budget deficit next year.
Fargo: “We’ve already sent out a letter, the city manager has, asking every non-represented employee to take a furlough, which is a day without pay, one day a month, and then we’re also gonna be meeting with the labor unions and talk with them about whether or not they would be able to postpone their five percent cost of living increase for next year.”
That would save $28 million, she says – more than half the deficit, but not all. Johnson called for reviewing all spending over $50,000, and repeated his call for a top-to-bottom audit. He also, for the first time, mentioned combining some services between the Sacramento Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriffs Department, though the two already work together a lot.
Johnson: “We can look at consolidating our services with the police and the county in terms of air traffic patrol, river patrol, SWAT and bombs. These are places we can consolidate our services. We can eliminate non-essentials like traveling and conferences, things of that nature and we can go after grants – both state and federal and private grants.”
Johnson said something else new last night – that he’s leaning towards voting yes on Proposition 4, the parental notification of abortion measure. But …
Johnson: “I think every young person should have every protection possible to have birth or make a choice that they feel they need to make, which is very important.”
Fargo didn’t respond during the debate, but said afterwards that Sacramento isn’t ready for a pro-life mayor.
Finally, both candidates gave their closing statements. Johnson said voters will face a clear choice next week – between status quo and change. His goal is his campaign slogan: a city that works for everyone.
Johnson: “I want to be a leader that does not get mired in the details but has an articulate vision for our city. I want to be a leader who makes no excuse, who’s willing to accept responsibility and become accountable. I believe I can lead this city.”
Fargo spoke of the city’s progress during her time as mayor, and said despite its current problems, Sacramento has a great future.
Fargo: “We have a rough road ahead of us, and I think that right now, what this city needs is a leader who is proven and who has brought change to this city in a very positive way, but knows where we’re going and has a steady hand on the helm.”
A Sacramento Bee poll out Sunday gave Johnson an eight point lead – showing the race hasn’t changed much from the primary. Local political analyst Doug Elmets says this debate simply wasn’t a game-changer.
Elmets: “Both of the candidates did a good job of reinforcing their opinions and really not changing many minds, I don’t think at all here. She needed to do something dramatic. That didn’t happen tonight.”
Elmets says the Sacramento mayoral race continues to be Kevin Johnson’s to lose.