Dear Mayor

(An open letter to Heather Fargo)

Greetings, Mayor! You’ve won a tough election against a worthy opponent and become Sacramento’s first full-term mayor of the new millennium. Congratulations! We wish you the best of luck and (naturally) now want to offer a bit of unsolicited advice.

You are no doubt well into your transition at this point, with a jam-packed itinerary and wall-to-wall meetings with officials and city bureaucrats. But let us remind you now that the people of this city elected you to do more than shake hands, attend meetings and cast votes. We elected you to take up the mantle of leadership in the capital city of the sixth-largest economy on the globe!

Think about this, Mayor Fargo. Consider the possibility that nothing you have done up to this point in your political career matters nearly as much. What will you do to boldly improve the future for the city of Sacramento?

Let’s go first to our greatest fear. Many of us worry that Sacramento is heading relentlessly down the path to becoming another Los Angeles, with its filthy air, gridlocked freeways and everlasting commutes. It’s clear to anyone who’s paying attention that we—like many cities in America—are stuck in a pattern of sprawl, where we (a) build roads that (b) nurture dispersed growth out of the central city, thereby (c) ensuring more automobile trips up the corridors which (d) translates into the aforementioned dirty air and miles-of-aisles roadways. As you know, this is a problem that transcends city and county boundaries—a solution will require unprecedented regional vision, diplomacy and attention. A question, Mayor Fargo: Are you ready to lead on this most crucial of issues?

Also, we want to bring your attention to the key issue feeding the demand for sprawling growth. Were talking now about our public schools.

As your opponent in this last election was fond of reminding us, the deteriorating state of Sacramento’s inner-city public schools is the first, best reason why good families decide to move farther and farther out to communities along the city’s corridors. The need for continued improvement in our city schools is an imperative. Yes, the Sacramento City Unified School District has made strides forward these past four years. But the job of remaking the city schools is far from finished. So we urge you to continue the legacy of the late Mayor Joe Serna in the matter of the schools. If it takes a bully pulpit—then we urge you to stand up and be that bully.

Mayor Fargo, we will appreciate your continued leadership on other issues that are essential to Sacramento’s interests—street safety, flood protection, downtown revitalization, arts funding, compassionate treatment of the city’s poor and homeless citizens. Your time has arrived, Heather. Make it matter. Do not fail to lead.