Got a Jones

In the field of accomplished Democrats running to replace Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg in the 9th District, Sacramento City Councilman Dave Jones stands out as the best and brightest. A Harvard law graduate with a distinguished career as a public-interest lawyer turned politician, Jones has the qualities we’re looking for in a leader capable of following in the sizeable footsteps of Steinberg.

Besides Jones, the field includes Sacramento County Supervisor Roger Dickinson, City Councilwoman Lauren Hammond, Sacramento City Unified School District Board member Manny Hernandez and others. (The winner of the March 2 Democratic primary will face Republican Gaspar Garcia and Libertarian Gale Morgan in the November general election.)

Perhaps what sets Jones apart is his action-speaks-louder-than-words philosophy of politics, as evidenced by his work to stop sprawl in our region. With Sacramento growing more like Los Angeles every year—with its snarled traffic and thickening smog—Jones is the only candidate who seems willing to fight hard for smart-growth policies, even when it means doing battle with powerful developers. Dickinson (a distinguished public servant who looks to be Jones’ chief competition in this race) has backed some smart-growth measures but, ultimately, has supported tax policies that wind up subsidizing sprawl.

We also appreciate Jones’ commitment to citizens on social-equity issues. He persuaded local governments to adopt zoning policies that have produced thousands of units of affordable housing and took the lead on getting Sacramento’s living-wage ordinance passed. Jones supported keeping the Cal Expo homeless shelter open year round; Dickinson did not. Jones also took the lead in asking for an independent oversight of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, i.e. an autonomous unit to investigate officer shootings and other allegations of wrongdoing, while Dickinson opposed this idea. Jones has shown an ability to solve bottom-line problems by helping balance the city budget. He also has proven to be a creative problem solver by setting up innovative partnerships between schools and parks in their surrounding communities.

Some say the Legislature’s main job in the years ahead will be to deal primarily with the fiscal solvency of the state. Of course, this is true. But we shouldn’t have to fix our financial problems by abandoning our belief in the right to a clean environment, affordable housing and social equity.

The field of politics requires pragmatism and bipartisan compromise. But politics also requires vision, leadership and the guts to know when to push on issues that matter most to people. Like Steinberg, Jones understands and embodies the crucial balance between these two styles. We urge a vote for Dave Jones in the 9th Assembly District.