Last week’s Sacramento City Council meeting saw dozens of public comments following a controversy following the “strong mayor” proposal. This proposal was aimed to give Mayor Steinberg the authority and tools to tackle issues of racism and police brutality in Sacramento communities.

Vice Chair of the Sacramento Youth Commission, Naomi Piper-Pell explained, “I want our elected officials to have all the tools possible to combat racism, discrimination, and police brutality. That being said the strong mayor plan presented by Mayor Steinberg is not the answer.” 

One aspect of the proposal that drew heavy criticism was the fact that the measure was grouped with various equity and economic redevelopment projects. Many local activists believe that this was intended to get the measure passed quietly under the disguise of racial equity projects.

Piper-Pell continued, “I do not like the way the strong mayor measure is grouped in with the measures aimed to tackle racism and promote equity, to me it feels like those promoting the plan are trying to throw in various proposals to “sweeten the deal” so to speak. The things that they are proposing including putting aside $40 million for youth and other programming are something I ultimately support but should be passed by the council on its own without forcing people into an all or nothing deal.” 

Criticism also arose surrounding the way that this proposal was brought about. The deal is advertised as a solution to issues of inequity. However, as Vice Chair Piper-Pell pointed out, the measure provides no tangible steps for how these issues will be resolved but rather gives the Mayor more jurisdiction.

Piper-Pell explained, “If the mayor wants voters to support a pretty big shift in the way our city is governed, he ought to present the voters with a bold plan for racial equity and investments in violence prevention, education, and youth programming, something that I have not seen yet.” 

Community members and organizations have been hard at work drafting solutions to the problems of mayoral accountability, equity, and holding the justice system accountable. 

Piper-Pell concluded, “I support the letter written by Sacramento activists and organizers urging the mayor to make serious changes to his strong mayor proposal including separating the mayoral accountability and community equity act into two separate amendments and let the voters decide them separately, as well as removing the section giving the mayor veto powers. I also support the letters call to remove the requirement for binding arbitration for police and fire personnel.”