City Beat

Sacramento Councilwoman Ashby criticized for walking out on water rate vote

Sacramento mayoral candidates square off

Sacramento mayoral candidates Angelique Ashby and Darrell Steinberg square off at a Chamber of Commerce sponsored event at the Crocker Art Museum. Mayoral candidates Tony Lopez and Russell Rawlings were not invited.
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Sacramento mayoral candidates Angelique Ashby and Darrell Steinberg square off at a Chamber of Commerce sponsored event at the Crocker Art Museum. Mayoral candidates Tony Lopez and Russell Rawlings were not invited.

Sacramento Councilwoman and mayoral hopeful Angelique Ashby is being criticized by her rival’s campaign for leaving Tuesday night’s City Council meeting moments before the council took the controversial step of voting to approve large increases in residents’ water and wastewater rates.

The council voted 7-1 to increase the rates by nearly 45 percent by July 2019 to pay for infrastructure upgrades, including the installation of water meters. Councilman Allen Warren was the lone no vote.

Ashby said during the hearing that she opposed the increases, arguing they are “too much, too fast.” But moments before the City Council vote, she stood up and left the council chambers.

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg’s mayoral campaign, took to Twitter soon after the vote to criticize Ashby.

“2nite Sac City Council had critical vote on water/wastewater rates. 8 members including @KJ_MayorJohnson voted; one took a walk. Guess who?” he wrote.

Ashby said in a text message she “didn’t duck the vote as Kinney suggests (which implies I left for a few minutes and came back). I left the meeting entirely, after expressing my opposition, because the mtg ran long.”

The council voted on the topic at 8:52 p.m. Council meetings begin at 6 p.m.

Steinberg did not respond to a request for comment on whether he would have supported the rate increases or his thoughts on Ashby’s early departure from the meeting.

Ashby also took to Twitter, responding to those commenting on Kinney’s statement. “Unfortunately the world of Twitter can be ugly and misleading, but we all get to choose how we perceive it,” she wrote in one post. She added in another that “the irony here is that I had already gone on record both in the meeting and in the media on this issue.”

Ashby spoke for just over five minutes at the council hearing, explaining her opposition to the increases. She said it was unfair for constituents in her North Natomas City Council district to pay for water meter installations around the city, given that homes in her district already have water meters.

“Asking them to increase their rates by nearly 50 percent over four years so the rest of the city can have meters is a tough pill to swallow,” she said.

And she said the increases will harm middle-income families who don’t qualify for rate assistance programs.

“We can’t continue to just place everything, all of that burden, on the people in-between,” she said.

Ryan Lillis: 916-321-1085, @Ryan_Lillis

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