City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

July 9, 2013
Three seek leap from Sacramento City Hall to Capitol

City Hall has long been viewed as a springboard to the state Capitol or other higher office. The line for the springboard is particularly long right now.

Three council members are trying to make the leap to the state Assembly - Steve Cohn, Darrell Fong and Kevin McCarty. They're attempting to follow in the footsteps of five other City Hall politicians who have won seats in the Assembly since the 1980s.

The campaigns will make for some interesting council dynamics between now and next June's primary. McCarty and Cohn are running against one another for Assembly District 7, which represents most of the city, West Sacramento, and parts of Antelope and North Highlands.

McCarty nearly won the seat four years ago and was an early entrant into the race this time around. Cohn - believed to be the longest-tenured councilman in the city's history - said he only decided to run recently.

The councilmen agree on most issues at City Hall. But the big exception is the financing plan that's been approved for a new downtown sports arena.

Cohn is a big booster of the project, having served on a City Council arena committee. McCarty has been a consistent skeptic of a public subsidy for the arena, voting no on this plan - as well as another proposal last year. Will the arena be a defining campaign issue?

In order to run for Assembly, Cohn must give up his council seat, which is also up for election next year. McCarty's council seat does not come up for election until 2016, so he doesn't have to resign in order to run.

West Sacramento Councilman Mark Johannessen is also in the Assembly race. The three are seeking to fill the seat for Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, who is running for the Senate in 2014. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will term out of that seat next year.

As for Fong, he'll face Elk Grove Councilman Jim Cooper in Assembly District 9. That district covers the Pocket/Greenhaven neighborhoods of Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt and Lodi. Fong has only served one term on the council and will relinquish his seat by running for Assembly.

Fong and Cooper are running for Assemblyman Richard Pan's seat. Pan is running against Dickinson for Steinberg's Senate post.

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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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