Mayor benefits, labor loses as City Council undergoes changes

From the Sacramento Bee - January 25, 2012

Political strategist Doug Elmets told me Monday that Johnson is sure to benefit from the changing council. The mayor is expected to campaign heavily for candidates he likes in the upcoming council races.

"It's clear that Kevin Johnson is forming a coalition," Elmets said. "Clearly his ability to appeal to a broad cross section of the electorate in this region has had an influence."

 

The historic transformation of the City Council could mean a shift in the balance of power at City Hall.

With the announcement Monday that Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy would not seek re-election - combined with Councilman Rob Fong's decision to also step down this year - six of the nine seats at the council dais will have different representatives from just four years ago. That's an incredible shift for a City Council that had been a safe haven for incumbents for nearly 20 years.

With so many seats changing hands, it's worth exploring who benefits.

As I reported today, the loss of Sheedy and Fong, coupled with the retirement of influential labor leader Harry Rotz, leaves the city's labor unions at a bit of a crossroads.

Time was, labor unions could count on near unanimous support from the council on just about every topic. Come November, the unions - not including the public safety groups - may only be able to count on two council members, Kevin McCarty and Bonnie Pannell, for unwavering support.

One person who could benefit from the upheaval on the council is Mayor Kevin Johnson - someone who is generally supported by business groups and disliked by big labor unions.

Sheedy in particular has been a vocal opponent of the mayor's on multiple fronts, fighting against his various strong mayor proposals and the attempt to build a new Kings arena. The arena fight comes back to council tonight, when Sheedy will ask her council colleagues to place a measure on the June ballot asking voters if they want to use public assets to help finance an arena.

Fong has also disagreed with Johnson's strong mayor plans, but has been a steady ally to Johnson on the arena work. But because Fong is considered a leader on the council, any rift between he and Johnson is often given added attention.

Political strategist Doug Elmets told me Monday that Johnson is sure to benefit from the changing council. The mayor is expected to campaign heavily for candidates he likes in the upcoming council races.

"It's clear that Kevin Johnson is forming a coalition," Elmets said. "Clearly his ability to appeal to a broad cross section of the electorate in this region has had an influence."


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