It’s one thing for a mayor to champion priorities or be a cheerleader for his city. It’s something else to put their own financial well-being at risk.
So West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon deserves credit for keeping his promise to buy into a new riverfront housing development – a pledge many of his constituents may have forgotten he even made.
As The Sacramento Bee’s Tony Bizjak reported, Cabaldon told developers that if they would help jump-start residential growth in the Bridge District, he would show his support by being among the first to move in. Next month, he will, taking the keys to a three-story row house in The Park Moderns, a few blocks from Raley Field.
The mayor and other city officials hope the former industrial area will eventually be home to 10,000 people, as well as offices and restaurants. A proposed streetcar line linking downtown West Sacramento with downtown Sacramento runs right through the district. For their vision to become reality, hundreds more urban pioneers will have to take this leap of faith.
While Cabaldon said he likes the design of his new home, he also wants to make a statement: “I think it’s important for more policymakers to put their mortgage where their mouth is.”
Cabaldon, who was overwhelmingly re-elected in November, is one of the region’s most vocal advocates of urban infill development. If more officials lived in one, he says, they would better understand the challenges faced by such projects, including higher land costs, parking and traffic.
Some regional leaders who were contacted by The Bee said they don’t believe it necessary to live in such a development to show support for infill.
It does, however, say something about the perception of public officials these days that when one actually keeps a promise – or backs up policy positions with personal action – it makes news.
Just think if others followed Cabaldon’s example. Officials who preach water conservation would tear out their own lawns. Those who tout stronger action on climate change would trade in their gas guzzlers for hybrids or all-electric vehicles. Or those advocating a ban on plastic bags would keep reusable ones with them at all times.
Who knows, it might even reach the point where we have reason again to routinely believe what politicians tell us. Is that wishful thinking? West Sacramento’s mayor has shown it doesn’t have to be.