SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson has announced he will not seek a third term in next year’s election.
The mayor described the decision, which was announced late Tuesday night, as a difficult choice that required a lot of “soul searching.”
Hours after the late night announcement, Johnson spoke to reporters at an Oak Park bookstore. He said he came to the decision after going to Phoenix by himself over the weekend and reflecting on what he wanted to do.
“I leave the city, and I believe it is headed in the right direction,” Johnson said.
Johnson says he’s “not leaving for another specific job or position,” lending fuel to speculation his decision was pressed by allegations of sexual molestation stemming from an Arizona investigation in 1996 when he was a member of the Phoenix Suns.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Johnson said the allegations have never made him think twice about running for office.
“When it was time for me to run in the first place, I would have never run if those allegations were something that concerned me,” Johnson said.
Johnson is currently not facing criminal charges.
His accuser, who was 15 at the time, reportedly broke her silence to Deadspin.com, describing what she called hush money paid by Johnson on the condition she not speak of the case to anyone but a priest or a therapist.
It comes on the day that ESPN was originally supposed to air a documentary about Sacramento’s effort to keep the Sacramento Kings from moving out of town. “Down In The Valley” was supposed to be a highlight for Johnson and the city, but ESPN announced it was delaying airing the film after criminal accusations against the mayor resurfaced.
Johnson walked the purple carpet as the local premiere of the documentary went on as planned hours after ESPN announced it will delay broadcasting “Down In The Valley” in light of a recent interview by Deadspin with Johnson’s accuser and the release of her videotaped deposition from 1996.
Johnson hinted to CBS13’s Steve Large at the time he would be deciding soon on whether to run soon.
His decision not to run for a third term won’t affect whether he’s in office when the crown jewel of his time in office finally opens. The future home of the Sacramento Kings, the Golden 1 Center, is slated to open in the fall of 2016. Johnson lead a push to keep the Kings in Sacramento with a new arena, financed with well over $250 million in public subsidies and concessions.
Also dogging Johnson is a legal battle between himself, the Sacramento News & Review and city hall to keep emails tied to his role in an alleged coup to take down the National Conference of Black Mayors and replace it with a similar group.
Who will take Johnson’s place will likely be a contentious race. Current Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby announced her candidacy Wednesday morning and has already garnered the support of local firefighters.
Other contenders rumored to be in the mix include former Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson.
FULL TEXT OF SACRAMENTO MAYOR KEVIN JOHNSON’S DECISION NOT TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM
On March 1, 2008 I made the most important decision of my life. I decided to leave my very comfortable life as a private citizen and run for Mayor of the City of Sacramento. I remember it like it was yesterday. As I started to discuss it with close family and friends, a number of them expressed their dismay. “WHY would you want to do this to yourself?” they asked, disillusioned with how politics in our country have devolved and worried about what a step into public life might mean for me. The answer was simple… because I love Sacramento.
This is the city I was born in, the city I was raised in and the city I have built my life in. In 2008, I saw that the community that I loved so much was not meeting its potential. At the time Sacramento was the second most dangerous city in the state. We faced record high unemployment and foreclosures. Our downtown was a ghost turn in the evenings and on weekends. The city was dealing with an enormous budget deficit. Only a third of our young people were reading on grade level. We had a homeless “tent city” emerging on our riverfront.
I decided to run with the slogan “A City That Works For Everyone” under the belief that we must be a community that provides a high quality of life and serves all of our citizens equally well.
Seven and a half years later, I am pleased to say that we’ve made tremendous progress towards this vision.
Have we accomplished everything we set out to do? Absolutely not. Are we in a much better position as a city? Without a doubt.
Over my two terms in office, I’ve experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. But I wouldn’t change a single moment of it, even if I could. Because it is the whole of these experiences that have led our community to where we are today, and I know that that is an extremely good place.
So today, I face a decision equally important to the one I made 7 years ago. It’s not something that I’ve taken lightly or rushed to hastily. After much thought and soul-searching I have decided not to run for a third-term as Mayor. It was an incredibly difficult choice, but one that I feel confident about. As I’m sure there will be much speculation on this, let me proactively say that I am not leaving for another specific job or position. While there are many intriguing opportunities out there (and I’m excited to explore them) I honestly don’t know what’s next for me.
But this is what I DO know… I leave this job humbled by the opportunity and honor of serving my community. I leave my position knowing there is ample leadership in the city to effectively fill my shoes. I leave knowing that the city is headed in the right direction and is ready to embrace the exciting changes ahead. And I leave knowing that my relationship with and work on behalf of the city is far from over.