Fargo’s challenge round

The voters spoke, and—big surprise!—Heather Fargo remains mayor of Sacramento. The election-night victory was almost as predictable and conventional as the candidate herself, given the lack of strong challengers.

Don’t get us wrong. We appreciate the mayor and think she’s done a good and dutiful job of running the city. But her reinstatement was hardly a rousing yea vote for her vision and style of leadership. It was more like a shrug of acceptance from Sacramento voters who seemed strangely willing to forgive Fargo some major bungling—especially her attempt to give the billionaire Maloofs an arena and saddle taxpayers with a $538 million sports-and-entertainment complex. Let’s state this plainly: Fargo’s plan to fund the thing by taxing and adding surcharges to prices at nearby bars and restaurants was ridiculous. Fargo failed in political astuteness.

Anyway, Fargo prevailed despite all that and is mayor again. Hmm. This makes one wonder: If she could survive the arena debacle, what might she really be capable of? Fargo’s heart seems to be in the right place. She’s smart. She works hard.

But where’s the boldness of vision, the imagination?

In her remarks on the state of the downtown, Fargo invoked the memory of former and beloved Mayor Joe Serna. During his tenure, we at SN&R disagreed with Serna on several issues and thought he tended to favor certain developers (like Angelo Tsakopoulos) too much. But at the end of the day, we were extremely proud to have him lead our city. Serna was everything you want in a leader: bold, resolute and willing to take unpopular positions. He articulated a glorious, complex vision for the future of Sacramento in his actions and words—one that incorporated progressive ideals and populist values. Heather, you are no Joe.

Mayor Fargo, we want to know more about your vision. We know you have been working hard to build a more vibrant downtown and are pleased that the central city has some new things going on—new lofts, restaurants and hotels. And we’re grateful to know you’re at least thinking about ways to better develop the waterfront and to put a deck over Interstate 5.

But we want more. Show us; don’t tell us. Take stands for smart growth, roll out daring new ideas and invest your political capital in ways that represent your belief in a bold and optimistic future for the city of Sacramento. Nobody’s really expecting you to duplicate Joe Serna. But we are asking you to lead.