City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 15, 2012
Bounty hunter Padilla to challenge Sacramento Mayor Johnson

Mayor Kevin Johnson finally has an opponent.

Sacramento bounty hunter and four-time mayoral candidate Leonard Padilla told me today he is definitely running against Johnson after pulling candidacy papers from the city clerk's office on Tuesday. Padilla's main campaign issue: the arena.

"I don't want the Maloofs (who own the Sacramento Kings) given one red cent, much less a quarter of a billion dollars," he said, referring to a proposal for the city to lease downtown parking to help finance a new sports arena.

Padilla compared Johnson supporting the arena plan to "trying to jump over San Francisco Bay holding on to a bowling ball."

"He's going to go to the bottom," he said.

Asked if he believed statements by city officials that any plan to lease out parking operations would include a way to replenish losses to the general fund budget, Padilla said he doesn't exactly trust the parties involved.

"Show me one of them that's run a lemonade stand," he said.

Padilla - who said he wouldn't hire a campaign consultant because he doesn't trust them - said he would fund his campaign out of his own pockets. Padilla said he thinks he can beat Johnson and his war chest of over $500,000 with $20,000, "maybe $30,000."

"The main things are the debates," he said.

As for this being his fifth attempt for the mayor's seat, Padilla described his previous attempts as educational experiences more than they were serious campaigns.

"I am totally serious this time," he said.

Said Steve Maviglio, the mayor's campaign spokesman: "We are laying the groundwork and raising resources for an aggressive campaign against any possible opponent, including Mr. Padilla. The Mayor is not taking anything for granted and will take his candidacy as seriously as we would any other opponents."

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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