Ask Joey breaks down last week’s mayoral debate

An honest perspective on the comments from Angelique Ashby and Darrell Steinberg

The Honesty Festival. That’s what a former boyfriend and I would call those messy, awkward convos that are occasionally necessary in any relationship. Here’s my Honesty Festival perspective on last week’s mayoral debate between Darrell Steinberg and Angelique Ashby.

Born to run: Steinberg was asked if he’s using this campaign to sustain his profile for a statewide or national race. Hmm, isn’t Ashby also strengthening her personal brand by seeking higher office? Aren’t most intelligent, energetic people ambitious?

And since this is an Honesty Festival, may I remind Sacramentans both Ashby and Steinberg are politicians, meaning they are public servants for whom ambition is a career essential. When Ashby said, “There is no one in the history of Sacramento who has played a leadership role as long as I have without becoming mayor,” she exemplified ambition (with a hint of humblebrag).

I believe I can fly: “Is there anything more important a city can do than help you achieve your dreams?” asked Ashby.

Well, yes, darlin’. Some might say the most important thing a city can do is expertly manage public services and systems so it is safe, financially solvent, walkable and attractive to corporations as well as small businesses so it ensures world-class art and recreation, and seeks to create unexpected positive opportunities that benefit its citizens. Unless, of course, you plan to create a new city position: Director of Citizen Dream Manifestation? (If so, my resume is at

The Sam Smith moment: “Stay with me,” Ashby cajoled the audience. “Stay with me. You started this journey with me, and we’ve made incredible progress together.” Ashby’s sincere request sounded like someone who knows she’s facing a breakup and wants one last chance. I’d counsel nonattachment over begging and loop this lyric: “If you love something, let it go. If it comes back, that’s how you know.”

The young and the restless: “Sacramento is becoming a young person’s city,” Steinberg said. Apparently open spaces, diversity, green living and indie culture excrete pheromones the under-40 crowd can’t resist. Maybe Sac Convention and Visitors Bureau can rebrand the city: “Bring us your tats.”

The outsiders: “On any given night, we have 2,600 homeless in Sacramento, and emergency shelter for 600,” Steinberg said. I give Steinberg kudos for his work to ensure funding for comprehensive mental-health services for the homeless, addicts and others.

But here’s a radical truth I double-dog dare a candidate to admit: If we want to solve homelessness, we need more than housing. We need early intervention from parents, teachers and law enforcement. And we need to understand that people with mental-health issues aren’t “lazy” or “evil.”

My endorsements are bigger than yours: Really? I had to listen to a list of the people who like you? Political relationships are prickly, strange bedfellows, yadda yadda.

“Ultimately, it’s up to you, the voters,” Ashby said. True dat. As this Honesty Festival ends, we grow wiser in deciding which candidate is the right long-term partner for our beloved city.