Time to make Sacramento city-council members full-time employees

We'll be voting on “strong mayor” in November: What better time to promote city council to full-time.

The 2014 midterm election officially arrives in Sacramento this Friday at 5 p.m., the city’s deadline for candidates to file paperwork. Of course, the game started months—even years—ago, what with the money-grubbing (er, fundraising) scrambles, endorsement power lunches and campaign shenanigans requisite of most long-game electoral scheming.

SN&R starts looking at races this week, as Cosmo Garvin heads over to District 3 to look at six candidates competing to succeed Councilman Steve Cohn.

His news feature (read it here) is a smart roundup of what's at stake going into June's primary. But there's one thing that makes little sense when I look at that, or any, district:

Why aren't council members full-time employees?

District 3's constituents—who live in the River District, south Natomas and East Sacramento, miles apart not just geographically, but also in needs and priorities—are lumped under the same council member's purview. And there's the rail yards. That's a lot for one council member to juggle, let alone a part-timer.

I'm not advocating for another redistricting romp. But it's time to explore making council members full-time.

This discussion last occurred in 2009 and was roundly dismissed by the council (or at least by members who conveniently held higher-paying side jobs).

Today, council members earn $58,477 as part-timers, but most say they're doing city work full-time anyway. Shouldn’t they be paid for that? Other big-time California cities such as San Jose and San Diego have full-time councils.

We'll be voting on “strong mayor” in November: What better time to promote city council to full-time? This would involve tweaks to the city charter, yes, so if 2014's the year to go for a stronger council, too, the time is now.