I care deeply about our city and its many neighborhoods. My insights and perspective on Measure L, the "Strong Mayor" issue, are based on four years on the City Council, almost thirty years of working in the public policy arena, and twenty-plus years as a business owner.
The decision on whether to update the City Charter to an executive form of government is ultimately up to the voters of Sacramento. However, I wanted to share my thoughts with you.
First, I do not believe City Hall is broken. We have made a lot of progress in the last four years and carried out some very good work as a Council. However, there is no doubt that Sacramento could run better and more efficiently. To accomplish this, we need a government that has greater accountability, alignment and ability to take quick action.
Improving accountability is important. I want to vote for and elect a mayor based on his or her vision for the City, and to ensure that the tools are present to implement that vision. We have a very good city manager, but he was not elected by the people. Under the current system, a city manager has more power and influence than the mayor or any other council person, yet it is the mayor and councilmembers who are held responsible by the public.
Alignment is more nuanced, but relates to accountability. City staff report to the city manager, not the mayor or the council. Ensuring that everyone in the City bureaucracy is working in alignment to implement the vision and goals established by the mayor and the council is not easy and often is not the case. Aligning the managerial authority of our city manager's office with the mayor's office will better align our work with our priorities.
Finally, the ability to take more timely action is needed. I believe that the City is at a critical point in its history, with great opportunities ahead. I personally want a government that is action-orientated and in a position to take advantage of those opportunities not only as they present themselves, but to seek new ones. A stronger Mayor, supported by an aligned bureaucracy, will facilitate this goal.
I have never been a fan of cheeky campaign slogans. On the whole, I find they oversimplify complex issues. Claims that Measure L is a "power grab" or will diminish access to elected officials and reduce the influence of neighborhoods are unfounded, and tend to elicit an emotional response rather than foster debate.
I believe that Measure L, if passed, will empower the council and create greater accountability for the mayor. Additionally, Measure L will add an independent redistricting committee, an ethics committee and a neighborhood advisory committee.
Finally, there is a six-year sunset on the initiative, which will allow the City to see what works and what doesn't. I look forward to a fact-based discussion on this initiative, based on policy and not personlities.
As always, contact me at: Jschenirer@cityofsacramento.org, if you would like to discuss this further.
In addition to his council duties, Jay works as an independent consultant and policy advisor on education reform and youth policy and strategies.