Leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. It takes many forms, can be loud or quiet, take the lead or encourage from behind the scenes. We all have the ability to be leaders, to lead on specific issues, and step forward when called upon.
Over the course of my time in elected office, I have been in the middle of many controversial issues. On some, I have chosen to be up front and very vocal – even becoming the public face for one side or another. A good example of this would be my role in updating the City’s minimum wage policy. In that case, I wanted to be involved because this was a critical issue for the City. The Mayor appointed me as chair of a working group to make recommendations to the Council on the minimum wage policy for Sacramento.
As Chair, I took on the challenge of finding a consensus among leaders of the labor, business and non-profit communities. It was a difficult and controversial discussion. While not everyone was happy with the result, we were successful in reaching a compromise and in the end, Sacramento was a leader to implement the first increase in local/state minimum wage in decades.
On many topics, I prefer to stay in the background, working with others to move issues forward. The most recent example of this is my work on homelessness. Two years ago, I led a Council Sub-Committee which met over a period of months with key stakeholders to develop a set of twenty-one recommendations for the Council. Those recommendations, many of which were implemented, came into play more recently as Mayor Steinberg took a very public lead role on the issue. I worked with City and County staff, local service organizations, and the private sector to help create an environment that has lead to our current path – an integrated approach to addressing homelessness, its causes, and solutions.
In addition, I am continuing to work on neighborhood-scale solutions to addressing homelessness – including a pilot program to implement a day labor program as well as exploring options for smaller-scale shelters in the district to support those experiencing homelessness in District 5. I look forward to continuing to work with neighborhood organizations, business districts, local government partners, nonprofits, and the private sector to continue to find ways to address homelessness that is right for our communities.
I also find myself in leadership roles simply because I might have a particular role. The best example of this is the development and implementation of local cannabis ordinances. My view on cannabis is straightforward. The people of California have voted to make it legal. It is our responsibility to create a regulatory environment that makes this industry safe and equitable, protects public health and produces significant revenues for the City.
As Chair of the Law and Legislation Committee, I have led the way to support City policies and ordinances to support this emerging industry and I am proud of what we have accomplished. Our permit fees will pay for added enforcement (more police and code officers) to shut down illegal operations and the business operations tax we collect will add tens of millions of dollars to the City’s general fund – money that can be used for public safety, youth services, fighting homelessness, and a host of other important issues.
These are but a few of the many issues in which I’ve taken challenging roles (formal or informal) and often difficult and controversial positions. In all of these situations and many others, including my work as past chair of Regional Transit and my stance on Curtis Park Village, I take these roles, and especially the role as your elected representative on the City Council, very seriously, and determine my positions based on my values and what I’m hearing from my constituents (which can often be vastly different).
There are fewer opportunities to have in-depth and thoughtful conversations about complex policy issues. In today’s social media world, it’s far too easy to criticize from afar and create an environment where compromise becomes difficult, if not impossible. Even though I may have the same goals as others, there may be disagreements about how to best achieve those results. I believe that the answer is most always better communication. To help facilitate those discussions, I am continuing to hold ‘office hours’ in different neighborhoods over the course of the year. I hope that you will participate in these events. With a better mutual understanding of the issues, we can collaboratively plot a path to improve our neighborhoods and create a better Sacramento.
As always, should you have questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch at 916.808.7005 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to his council duties, Jay works as an independent consultant and policy advisor on education reform and youth policy and strategies.