The Swarm

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June 24, 2010
Heather Fargo returns to government work




Sacramento's former mayor, Heather Fargo, has a new gig.

She was appointed this month as executive policy officer for California's Strategic Growth Council, a cabinet-level committee created by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2008 to coordinate the state's efforts to improve air and water quality, protect agricultural land and increase affordable housing. The council includes the secretaries of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Natural Resources Agency.

Another major duty is to help state and local agencies reach the goals of AB 32, the controversial law to cut the state's carbon emissions. This week, opponents who call the law a "job killer" qualified an initiative for the Nov. 2 ballot that would suspend its implementation.

The job makes sense for Fargo, who as mayor pushed for smart growth that would reduce sprawl and traffic. In 2008, she was vice president of the League of California Cities when it endorsed SB 375, landmark legislation to offer local governments incentives to encourage more compact, transit-oriented development.

As the equivalent of the council's executive director, she will coordinate its activities, including the awarding of grants to local governments under Proposition 84.

Fargo said the council has an "aggressive mission" to protect the environment and, in some ways, is trying to bring statewide the principles embodied in the Sacramento Region Blueprint. "I certainly have always recognized that local governments have a significant role to play on environmental issues," she said today.

First elected mayor in 2000, Fargo lost to Kevin Johnson in 2008 and since had been focusing on consulting and volunteering. She said a friend told her about the opening, and she was intrigued enough to apply.

While the new governor will appoint the council members with hiring and firing power over the position, which she said pays about $93,780 a year, she said she hopes to keep it under the new administration.

"It's a position that certainly uses what I learned as mayor and council member," she said. "It's a job that matters."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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