The Swarm

Mix it up with The Bee's editorial board.

June 6, 2012
Editorial: Mayor Johnson must build agenda for second term
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson handily won a second term Tuesday, but he can hardly claim a mandate.

Against challengers he repeatedly reminded us were not credible and whom he vastly outspent, he appears to have failed to reach 60 percent of the vote. The City Council candidate whom he and his business allies put the most energy and money into supporting lost. And in his victory speech, the mayor basically conceded that he hadn't given voters an agenda.

Johnson told supporters Tuesday night that before he takes the oath of office in November, he plans to come up with a "clear vision" so he can "hit the ground running."

He also vowed to unite the fractious council and to build new coalitions that "transcend old divisions."

The results in the four council races on Tuesday's ballot, however, suggest that will not be an easy task.

In south Sacramento's District 8, incumbent Bonnie Pannell staved off former local NAACP leader Betty Williams, who had Johnson's active support as well as boatloads of campaign cash from Better Sacramento, the political action committee created by business leaders who support Johnson.

In District 6, Kevin McCarty easily won a third term. He has been one of the most vocal opponents of Johnson's proposals to give the mayor's office more power, and was also a skeptic on the mayor's push for a downtown arena.

In the District 4 seat being vacated by Rob Fong, Phyllis Newton - the choice of the Better Sacramento PAC - did not make the November runoff. It will instead feature Steve Hansen, a midtown activist and Genentech manager, and Joe Yee, a longtime city planning commissioner who lives in Land Park. Both oppose Johnson's "strong mayor" proposals.

The mayor still has a chance to add an ally in north Sacramento's District 2, where Sandy Sheedy - a thorn in Johnson's side - is stepping aside. Developer Allen Warren, whom Johnson backed, made the runoff against former councilman Rob Kerth.

All in all, Johnson can celebrate four more years in office, but he would be fooling himself to see the election results as a ringing endorsement.

To be truly effective in a second term, he has to follow through on his pledges to unite the city behind a shared vision. He says he believes that Sacramento's best days still lie ahead. He has a lot of work to do to lead the city toward that future.
June 6, 2012
Editorial: Twin Rivers school board must deliver

Voters in the troubled Twin Rivers Unified School District want change. Their votes on Tuesday clearly signal that.

Three of four incumbents up for re-election appear headed toward defeat, although late votes are still being counted. In a fifth contest, the incumbent did not seek re-election, and a challenger unaligned with either of two competing factions in the district won the seat. In addition, voters handily approved a measure to change the method of voting in Twin Rivers from at-large to district elections.

When the newly elected board takes office, four of the seven members -- a majority -- could be new to the board. Three of the four new members and incumbent Cortez Quinn, who appeared headed toward re-election, were members of a slate that challenged the former board majority.

Assuming the numbers hold up, this new majority now faces the daunting task of healing bitter divisions that have beset Twin Rivers since it was formed four years ago. Their first order of business will be to hire a new superintendent who can rebuild trust, while keeping the district solvent and moving forward in a challenging economic environment. The district also must deal with an ongoing investigation of its police department.

Meanwhile, two board members face their own trust issues. Late in the campaign, it was disclosed that Michael Baker, the new District 1 Trustee, apparently lied about holding degrees from the University of Nevada. Even more serious, District 5 Trustee Quinn is embroiled in an embarrassing paternity suit involving a district employee, and is accused of borrowing money from the employee.

Those are unfortunate distractions that must not be allowed to disrupt the district's urgent business of educating kids. During their campaigns, the candidates made elaborate promises about ending the feuding, building enrollment, improving student achievement and increasing graduation rates.

Now is the time to deliver.

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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