We’ve been talking about what Valley mayors can be.
In today’s SacBee, Marcos Breton grapples with the complicated legacy of Mayor Kevin Johnson. “He once told me what he wanted most of all was for Sacramento to be a cool place. You know what? It is now … ”
Yes, Johnston infused the office with youth, star power and optimism. He kept the Kings in Sacramento. He led the drive for a new arena.
“A new downtown is taking shape,” Breton writes. “The downtown railyard is poised for development. A culture of restaurants, art galleries and craft beer breweries has gained traction, as has a nascent tech community.”
“He changed the mindset of Sacramento,” said Scott Syphax … “His major accomplishment is that he changed Sacramento from a ‘can’t-do’ community to a ‘can-do’ community.”
Yet Johnston’s political career was wrecked by allegations he molested a teenage girl in 1995 while still in the NBA.
There are only a couple parallels between Johnson and Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva. Both came from the wrong side of the tracks. Both were undone by personal foibles.
Perhaps there is another parallel: Johnson entered public life with a big skeleton in his closet. I believe the same to be true of Silva, though his troubles with the legal system have not materialized to the extent I expected. In Johnson’s case, he may have taken the risk out of a sense of NBA star privilege, that he was just too powerful, that his lawyers has his past sewed up. Silva may have banked on the failure of Stockton’s institutions to properly police his errant behavior.
But all that’s beside the point. Johnson supercharged Sacramento with urban vitality and reinvention, even more than the talented Mayor Ashley Swearengin did in Fresno. And in between those two cities sits a unique Delta city brimming with unrealized potential and high hopes for its mayor elect.