With nearly 60 percent of the vote, Sacramento Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg won a clear and convincing mandate Tuesday.
There should be no doubt what he intends to do with it. He laid out an ambitious agenda on jobs, homelessness, youths, public safety, neighborhoods and more. Now, he has the opportunity – but also the responsibility – to make huge strides on those priorities in his four years in office.
Steinberg has a big job ahead, but he has the knowledge, experience and leadership to propel Sacramento forward. That proven track record and potential to do great things for his city are why we and so many others supported him.
Of the many items on his to-do list before taking the oath of office in December, one at the top is to play a lead role in selecting the next city manager, who will replace John Shirey in November. Steinberg won’t have a vote, but should be deeply involved in interviews and deliberations.
He understands how critical it is that the city’s top elected official and top administrator are on the same page and can hit the ground running together. In a statement to The Sacramento Bee editorial board, he said Wednesday the next city manager “is going to be my partner in ensuring our city’s progress and prosperity.”
Steinberg said he expects to be “directly involved” in the selection and will discuss details with Mayor Kevin Johnson and the City Council in the coming days. Johnson’s office agrees Steinberg will play a major role and says the mayor is committed to a smooth transition.
The hiring process is well underway. The city has retained an executive search firm. Candidates have until June 30 to apply. The application brochure says the city is looking for a leader who will guide Sacramento into a “bold new era of growth and vitality” and who will enhance business recruitment, support transparency and focus on collaboration with other leaders in the region.
In some ways, the next city manager will face a tougher task than Shirey, who started in 2011, when City Hall was digging out of the Great Recession and restoring city services was the clear priority. In better economic times – and with the energy of the new downtown arena – the expectations will be higher. As well they should: Sacramento needs a visionary leader who will tend to the budget and other basics.
Steinberg’s transition will be made smoother because all four council incumbents on Tuesday’s ballot also won and because seven council members endorsed him.
By winning outright, Steinberg has plenty of time to prepare. He should make good use of it, especially by listening to groups that didn’t support him.
For instance, the firefighters union bet big on Ashby and lost. Now, it must come to terms with Steinberg. He has committed to strong public safety, but the fire and police unions must be willing to give a little on benefits and pensions so the city can afford it.
Ashby herself must be a team player. She didn’t concede Tuesday night, and Wednesday morning tweeted out congratulations. Later, she issued a statement pledging to do everything she can to make Steinberg as successful as possible.
The first test as mayor of Steinberg’s prodigious political skills is to take office with a city united behind him. We believe he will. We trust that those who opposed his election will understand that it’s in all our interest to help him succeed.