Johnson Debuts “Strong Mayor” Campaign Headquarters

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Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson debuted the campaign headquarters for his "Strong Mayor" initiative by revamping his message after past failures.

"Independent budget analysis," Johnson touted from the podium.

That is just one of the tweaks to Measure L that could concentrate governing power in the mayor's hands instead of splitting it with the city manager.

Another tweak...

"It sunsets in 6 years," Kevin Ferreira, Executive Director of the Sacramento-Sierra Building Trades and Construction Council, said Wednesday.

That new test-run feature got Ferreira's union to change its position and back the plan.

The belief a "Strong Mayor" will keep more of his union members working was also a persuasive factor.

"The growth of Sacramento needs this form of government to grow at the speed that accommodates the mayor's vision," he said.

Others aren't on board.

"It's clear that the development community and some of the building trades see this as a way for them to get more development projects," District Four City Councilman Steve Hansen said.

He is pushing the anti-"Strong Mayor" group "Stop the Power Grab."

"From what we've seen, the voters don't want this," Hansen said.

While debate rages about the long-term effect on jobs, fired Labor Council president Bill Camp thinks he may have lost his job because of mayoral influence on factions in his group.

Those factors were trying to force a reversal of the council's long-standing 'no' to a strong mayor.

Wednesday Kevin Johnson was quick to distance himself from all that.

"We'd love to have the central labor council if it works out.  But if not,  it seems like they have some housekeeping issues they have to deal with on their end, but I had nothing to do with it," he said.

Johnson is promising to use his influence  to try and strengthen city neighborhoods by incentivizing more officers to live in Sacramento if he gets to take the reigns of public safety from the city manager. The mayor was not clear on what those incentives would be, but said that was to be discussed with Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers.

Kevin Carter, a loud and frequent critic of police action was invited to this campaign event by the mayor.

He's reserving judgement about the proposal.

"Actions speak louder than words" said Carter.

The mayor also suggested Wednesday that being a  "Strong Mayor" would allow him to work with school leaders to improve the city's public campuses, possibly offering universal pre-school.

Others not yet sold on the "Strong Mayor" proposal will have the chance to learn more Thursday during a debate of pros and cons to be held in Oak Park.

Critics point to the buying of Facebook likes for the 'Vote Yes on Measure L' page as evidence that voters will continue to lose out in a system with concentrated power.

"It's really interesting for a campaign that's about ethics and transparency to go out and buy friends on Facebook and buy Twitter followers.  Just doesn't seem to match the rhetoric of transparency and ethics.  It''s a really unfortunate way to start their campaign," Sacramento's District Four councilman Steve Hansen said.

He's backing the anti-'strong mayor' campaign 'Stop the Power Grab.'

"They're just grasping at straws trying to change the subject from the fact that one of the most influential labor organizations and one of of the influential business  organizations on the same day announce that we may not agree on everything but they agree that measure 'L' is good for Sacramento," Josh Wood with Sacramento Tomorrow said.

That's the primary 'Yes on L' group.

Wood says their side simply organized a very effective team of social media experts who attacked the web over the last few days.