SACRAMENTO – On the ballot as Measure A, the “Sacramento Mayoral Accountability and Community Equity Act of 2020,” appears to be going in the same direction it did six years ago when it was put in front of voters — a path to defeat.

Also called the “Strong Mayor” initiative, Measure A fell behind early after the polls closed on Tuesday and continued in that pattern. With all 205 precincts reporting, nearly 57% of the votes went against the measure while 43% of the votes favored the initiative.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, who pushed for the initiative that would have given him expanded powers, did not concede when he observed early returns. But he did say he was disappointed.

“The results are obviously not complete yet. But certainly the early returns on Measure A does not look good for its passage,” Steinberg said outside of a residence in the Hollywood Park neighborhood. “And that is disappointing to me.”

Stienberg and his supporters bet all of their poker chips in hopes of revising the city’s current “council-manager” form of government to a “mayor-council structure.”

For the second time in six years, a majority of the voters have made it clear that they were not all in with the initiative and it is time to fold in the cards. The strong mayor proposal in 2014 was on the ballot as Measure L.

Measure L went down in flames with 57% of the voters in opposition to 43% who approved. Then Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson led the effort to install the initiative to no avail, and eventually, was one of the reasons why he decided not to run for another term.

Steinberg, who has been elected 10 times on the local and state levels, lost out on an issue that had a sticky thorn in the side of half the Black community that didn’t see eye-to-eye with his motivation to have absolute influence over certain decisions without the City Council’s approval.

“We do have trust issues, not just NAACP, but a number of individuals in the Black community, organizations, and faith-based, have trust issues with him,” Sacramento NAACP president Betty Williams told The OBSERVER in August after the City Council voted to put the initiative on the ballot.

It was relatively a modest, General Election evening for Steinberg. He spent the first part of the evening with members of his staff at Cesar Chavez Park’s La Cosecha restaurant in a socially distanced environment.

When the results from Measure A started to trickle in, Steinberg watched it from a private residence in Hollywood Park where he spoke to the local media. He said that he had “no regrets” of his efforts to bring the initiative before his constituents.

The lights were dimming on Measure A but the mayor had not thrown in the towel considering mail-in ballots were not fully counted.
“Well, it’s not an official concession,” Steinbert said.

In all likelihood, it’s the end of the discussion about giving the mayor of Sacramento control of the city budget, veto power, the right to fire the city manager. Steinberg told The OBSERVER he now doesn’t know if Sacramento will ever be willing to offer up those duties.

“I don’t know (if the city will be ready for a strong mayor). We would have to analyze why. It may have been what some critics said was the ‘wrong time,’” Steinberg said. “I thought it was (the right time) because people were holding the mayor accountable and the system does not give the mayor any executive tools.”

“But maybe people felt like there was too much going on in life and maybe they are satisfied with the form of government. They think that it works just fine,” Steinberg said in conclusion.

With all 205 precincts reporting, Measure B is overwhelmingly in favor of the city of Sacramento voters. Currently, 66.55% (59,991 votes) are in favor of the measure while 33.45% (30, 160 votes) in opposition.

Measure B would amend the city of Sacramento Charter to have the Sacramento Independent Redistricting Commission to establish the next council district boundaries map.

The map could be used for the 2022 elections. Measure B requires a simple majority (50% plus 1) to pass.

With all 205 precincts reporting, Measure C is going down. Currently 61.71% (58,006 votes) are in oppose of the measure while 38.29% (35,993 votes) are in support.

Measure C would have added an article to the City of Sacramento Charter to create a new elected body (Rental Housing Board) with powers that include setting rents, establishing regulations, and establishing its own budget.
Additionally, charging fees to finance Rental Housing Board’s operations, establishing penalties, conducting investigations, and adjudicating rent adjustments would have been powers of the board.

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Photo by Russell Stiger, Jr.