Minutes after his plan to create an elected charter panel in Sacramento was crushed on election night, Councilman Kevin McCarty began spinning the outcome as a repudiation of Mayor Kevin Johnson's multiple "strong-mayor" proposals.
McCarty continued to connect the failure of Measure M to Johnson's plans for two more days, arguing that the outcome of Tuesday's election should end Johnson's strong-mayor aspirations for good.
"This should put the strong-mayor discussion to rest," he said. "The voters aren't interested in changing our city charter."
That assessment didn't fly with the council member who was the most outspoken in her opposition to the charter panel.
Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said McCarty's assertion "makes such a logical leap it doesn't pass the straight-face test."
"People voted no on hiring 15 elected officials to come in and review our city charter," she said. "They didn't vote no on charter reform, they didn't vote no on strong-mayor and to read any more into the result is wrong."
While Ashby voted this year to place one of Johnson's strong-mayor plans on the ballot, she did not express support for the proposal.
The mayor was traveling Thursday and was unavailable for comment.
If the charter commission measure had passed, 15 commissioners would have spent the next two years examining the city charter. Proposed changes to how the city is governed would have been brought to the voters in 2014.
The commission failed, earning 26 percent of the vote in the most recent results.
McCarty made the motion in June to place the charter panel on the ballot, a motion that was supported by five of his City Council colleagues.
For more than three years, he has been a vocal advocate of a citizens commission, promoting that approach as a more inclusive alternative to Johnson's strong-mayor plans.
But he didn't organize a campaign to persuade voters. Asked Thursday if he wanted his elected charter commission plan to pass, McCarty replied he was "ambivalent."
"I wanted to hear what the public had to say about charter change," he said.
In the end, McCarty's idea attracted scant support. More voters decided not to vote at all on the charter commission proposal than to vote for it, and the measure lost by a wider margin than any other proposition in the Sacramento region. It attracted fewer votes than GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who failed to win a single precinct in the city with more than 15 voters.
And despite being asked to vote for 15 commissioners, the average voter selected just five candidates from a field of 54.
While city officials have not been billed yet, the cost of printing an extra ballot page to accommodate the measure and its field of candidates could reach $198,000, county elections officials said.
Ashby said the process should have been avoided.
"It cost us money just to find out that 75,000 people agreed it was a waste of time," she said. "People didn't see this as a priority."