Yes on Measure A

Mayor needs freedom to move fast

By Rick Jennings and Jay Schenirer
October 2020

This unprecedented year has revealed the need for our city leaders to act more quickly to respond to crisis and leverage opportunities that could benefit Sacramento. Our current city governance structure is not designed for efficient action on either front.

This Nov. 3, Sacramento can vote for Measure A to empower our elected city leaders to take decisive action to better serve our city, a shift which will also hold our city leaders accountable for improving Sacramento while equitably serving all of our diverse communities.

Here is why we need Measure A: Our city government is currently managed and directed by a non-elected city manager, not our elected mayor and City Council. City staff, led by the city manager, are excellent at balancing budgets. But their work is not driven by the vision of leaders elected by the people of Sacramento, and too often, innovation, equity, and urgency are left out of the equation.
Measure A will move executive authority and responsibility from a non-elected position to an elected official—the mayor—who is accountable to all Sacramentans.

Current events have shown how necessary it is to empower our elected mayor with the authority to make decisions and guide policy, and why voters should hold elected leaders accountable for meeting the needs of our city.

The current city structure is not capable of responding quickly to emerging threats like COVID-19. The mayor had no authority to issue a citywide order to wear masks to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect our essential workers. While other cities were able to quickly approve such protections early in the pandemic, it took months to get a similar order approved in Sacramento.

Sacramento residents also expect action to address the myriad issues associated with homelessness. The mayor was elected with a mandate to address this crisis, and the heartbreaking death of two people who slept in the cold outside City Hall underscored the urgency to act quickly. Yet even though the City Council approved two 100-bed shelters over a year ago, it took more than a year to open the first.

As we rebound from the pandemic crisis, Sacramento should not be hamstrung by the same challenges. We need a governance system that can act quickly and not miss opportunities to quickly leverage investments. Measure A will help Sacramento compete for high-wage jobs, seek more state and federal funding to expand services and ensure we are best equipped to handle emergencies.

As we do so, Measure A will increase citizen participation in establishing budget priorities and make our City Council stronger by giving it exclusive authority over land use and planning decisions.

Measure A will strengthen neighborhood representation on the City Council and improve diversity among our elected city leaders through the creation of a ninth City Council district. This stronger City Council will provide a balance to the increased executive authority of the mayor.

Measure A will require the city to analyze the social equity impacts of the city’s budget and major policy decisions, including racial equity, ethnic equity, LGBTQ and gender equity.

It will ensure that the city budget includes at least $40 million for inclusive economic development and youth services and will create a permanent Fair Housing and Human Rights Commission to monitor, evaluate and advise the City Council on progress made toward promoting social equity.

If Sacramento is to solve the problems of the 21st century, we must modernize our 19th-century form of government, as other large California cities have done. At the same time, Measure A will make Sacramento city government more accountable to our citizens and help our city evolve from good to great.

Jay Schenirer represents District 5 on the City Council. Rick Jennings represents District 7 on the City Council.

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