While the eyes of most of the world are on the first African-American to be elected president, the eyes of Sacramento, California are on former NBA star Kevin Johnson, who was elected the city’s first black mayor after an expensive, bizarre, and somewhat absurd race with incumbent Heather Fargo.
KJ apparently decided he wanted to get into elected office before his former Suns teammate, Charles Barkley. Fargo was expected to cruise to a third term until Johnson announced his candidacy in March. The resulting media crush sent him soaring in the polls as he brought in stars like Magic Johnson and Shaq for appearances at his events. Fargo, despite being fairly popular, simply had no answer. And it wasn’t like KJ had a squeaky-clean image during his campaign.
The SACRAMENTO BEE says that Johnson’s latest odd appearance in the headlines was just one of several unusual incidents during the campaign:
Just last week, Johnson grabbed unwanted headlines again after he took an after-hours private tour of City Hall, including a brief stop in the mayor’s chair, and happened to run into City Councilman Rob Fong, a Fargo supporter.
Johnson was accompanied by a security guard, but City Manager Ray Kerridge nonetheless said the tour violated city policy.
The fired security guard, Luis Joya, joined Johnson on the stage Tuesday night, and Johnson put his arm around him. He later told reporters he would enlist his supporters to help get Joya a job.
“Luis the Security Guard” doesn’t quite have the same ring as “Joe the Plumber.”
Johnson also was dogged by allegations of improper contact with teenage girls:
Johnson was dogged by scandal throughout the campaign. Early on, he was forced to answer allegations that he had inappropriately touched teenage girls in Phoenix, where he played for the Suns, and more recently in Sacramento.
The Sacramento girl was a student at Sacramento Charter High School, which is run by the St. HOPE organization Johnson founded.
Johnson was not charged in either incident, and the allegations were not proved.
And yet, despite all of this, it appears as if Johnson won more than 57% of the vote. It’s easy to feel a little bad for Fargo. She’s a former state parks employee who just wanted to get into public service. She won her first mayoral election in 2000, when the position wasn’t even considered a full-time job, and won again easily in 2004. This time around, she faced a massive disadvantage in financial resources and was no match for Johnson’s star power:
A visibly upset Fargo struggled to hold back tears as she gave her concession speech. She said being mayor was “an incredibly wonderful experience for me, and I think I’ve been incredibly good for Sacramento.”
Looking back at the race Monday, Fargo called it “interesting and bizarre.”
“The public doesn’t know the half of what’s gone on,” she said.