SACRAMENTO, CA – Supporters of Measure L today called on former Mayor Heather Fargo, chief spokesperson for the anti-Measure L campaign, to explain her flip-flop on strong mayor.
As revealed in a new analysis, Fargo voted in favor of a strong mayor proposal in June 1990 as part of a 6-2 vote that also included then-Mayor Anne Rudin, and then Council Member Joe Serna. The proposal had been developed in collaboration with prominent City and County leaders in an effort to improve accountability and streamline bureaucracy.
“It turns out Mayor Fargo was for strong mayor before she was against it,” said Josh Wood. “It’s just latest example of why those opposing Measure L’s common sense reforms simply aren’t on the level. Fargo’s flip-flop has voters across the City now wondering whether her stance is more about petty politics than sound policy. That is precisely the kind of small-minded thinking that Measure L seeks to change.”
News of Fargo’s flip-flop is not the first time Fargo’s true feelings about the current weak mayor system have been called into question. At a community forum last month, Fargo admitted to voters that “It’s hard to get anything done in the current system.”
Similar to the 2014 Measure L proposal, the 1990 strong mayor proposal supported by Fargo, Rudin, Serna and then-County Supervisor Grantland Johnson focused on increasing accountability to voters by transitioning the Mayor’s position into a chief executive role with the authority to nominate and remove the City Manager, and veto certain actions by the legislature. Sacramento County ultimately voted down the proposal despite the Mayor and City Council’s strong support.
With news of Fargo, Rudin and Serna’s support, the “strong mayor” concept has now enjoyed support from six current or former Mayors. Mayor Johnson, and former Mayors Jimmie Yee and Phil Isenberg are all strong supporters of Measure L, citing the accountability it would bring to city government.
The revelation was part of an analysis published in the latest issue of Sactown Magazine and the Sacramento Bee this past Sunday and was written by Sactown Magazine Editor and long-time Sacramento resident Rob Turner.
Turner writes, “Among the six council members who voted to give the mayor veto power over the council: Mayor Anne Rudin, and then-future Sacramento Mayors Joe Serna and Heather Fargo. Yes, the same Heather Fargo who lost to Kevin Johnson and now opposes mayoral veto power.”
At the June 11, 1990 meeting, the late Joe Serna, who would go on to become one of Sacramento’s most popular and respected Mayors, pushed back against opponents to the change saying they wanted to “take this gigantic city…and run it like a village.”
Measure L opponent Heather Fargo served as Sacramento Mayor from 2000 to 2008. She was defeated in November 2008 by current Mayor Kevin Johnson by a vote of 57% to 42%.