“Fighting Sacramento” or Realistic Advocacy that Benefits Clayton?

For months now some Clayton candidates have run on “fight Sacramento” slogans, vowing to have our small city of approx. 11,500 people stand up against Sacramento expecting the legislature to make significant exceptions for us while holding other 481 California cities accountable to Statewide mandates.  For months I have watched these campaigns make wholly unrealistic campaign promises, telling our residents how merely sending a ‘no’ letter to Sacramento is supposedly going work.

Previously I stressed how EXPERIENCE MATTERS and how FORESIGHT MATTERS.  I have been involved in politics through my work long enough to realize how absurd some of these “fight Sacramento” campaign slogans and promises we have heard have been.  I have repeatedly stated that we are going to be much more successful by having working relationships with our lawmakers, offering alternatives when we disagree, and practicing diplomacy, respect and cooperation to effectively advocate for our positions.  Being EFFECTIVE MATTERS.    

With two weeks to go, it seems that the “fight Sacramento” slogan is now changing.  Its proponents are suddenly telling us they did not actually mean that we are going to show our middle finger to the State expecting them to buckle, or sue the State or give the State the opportunity to sue us because of our lack of compliance.  I am glad some candidates (and councilmembers) have finally realized what some of us have known all along, and have seemingly learned from the many examples whereby other cities have unsuccessfully fought the State, e.g. by failing to submit a compliant Housing Element or failing to comply with State law in review of project proposals.

What we are now hearing is that by “fighting Sacramento” these candidates want Clayton to advocate for our interests, and connect with other cities and state legislators.[1]  In other words, the “fight Sacramento” candidates now agree with what the candidates like myself have said from the beginning and what past and present Councilmembers have been doing for years, with the sole exception of one Councilmember who has been notably absent from regional opportunities (such as, but not limited to, the monthly Contra Costa Mayors’ Conferences and bimonthly East Bay Division meetings for the League of California Cities), yet he is now the one calling for us to work with other cities as if that is something new.    

What we are hearing now is a bit of mixed messages, including commitment to follow the laws and avoiding litigation when it is not right for us, but not necessarily so when it comes to their actions.     

I have no doubt that all candidates care for Clayton and want to fight for Clayton.  The big difference is that if you put people who have no foresight and no willingness to listen to experts and examine precedent in the driver’s seat, you should not be surprised if they drive our city into the ditch.  This election gives our residents the opportunity to decide who is driving Clayton and whether we stay on the road that ensures our budget and services stay intact. 

[1] Senator Wiener is an active State Senator, but he is also someone who will talk and listen to feedback.  To those who have criticized me for having made a donation to San Francisco’s representative to the Senate, I ask whether they instead support the candidates who ran in opposition to Wiener in 2016 and currently in 2020.  The current candidate running against Wiener is doing so because she believes Wiener has not done enough, suggesting e.g. a massive investment to build affordable housing (over market rate housing), including zoning changes in California’s wealthiest neighborhoods.  I assume candidate Gavidia’s objection to Wiener means he agrees with Wiener’s opponent and wants a San Francisco representative who does even more.      

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