Foon Rhee: A potential glitch in latest Sacramento ‘strong mayor’ effort

Published: Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013 - 6:28 pm

This could be a fly in the ointment in the latest push for “strong mayor” in Sacramento.

A bill signed into law this week by Gov. Jerry Brown requires that any proposed changes to city or county charters be submitted to voters at a statewide general election. Senate Bill 311 does allow votes on charter changes during regular municipal elections or statewide primaries – but only if the measure is put on the ballot through a petition drive.

Some Sacramento civic leaders, who are just starting community outreach on the issue, are aiming for a possible measure in June 2014, which is the city's regular election and the statewide primary. The group has also been talking about taking a plan before the City Council for it to put on the ballot.

But under that scenario, June 2014 wouldn’t be possible with this new law; it would have to be November 2014. A petition drive to put the question on the June 2014 ballot would be more expensive and time consuming.

Sen. Alex Padilla, who authored SB 311, says an issue as significant as charter change should be on the ballot when the most voters go to the polls. But you could also argue that voters would be more focused on local issues at a municipal election, when the ballot isn’t as cluttered.

In any case, the new law could complicate matters.

Follow Foon Rhee on Twitter @foonrhee

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