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Kevin Johnson annouces he is running for mayor

New poll finds mayoral race 'wide open'

By Terri Hardy and Marcos Bretón -

Last Updated 8:16 pm PST Wednesday, March 5, 2008

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Kevin Johnson will announce Wednesday evening that he will challenge Heather Fargo in the Sacramento mayor's race. Florence Low /


It's official -- former NBA star Kevin Johnson is running for mayor.

Before more than 200 people in Oak Park's Guild Theatre, Johnson said he had decided to enter the race after much soul searching.

"I came to the unequivocal conclusion that we need a change in this city, and we need a change now," Johnson said.

Sacramento, Johnson said, could be one of the most vibrant cities in the country with the proper leadership. In the past month, Johnson said he's spoken with many people about what they want for their city.

"Right now, people see our city government as nonresponsive, tired, uninspired and bureaucratic," Johnson said.

He will be challenging current mayor, Heather Fargo, who is seeking her third term as mayor in the June 3 election.

Johnson said he will spend time talking to more people before revealing his platform and plans for change. However, he said he knows he will push for good schools, a climate that attracts business and jobs, and a transparent, accountable government. He said he would commit to decreasing crime in the city and would put more sworn police officers on the street the first day he takes office.

He urged the crowd: "Help me create a city that works for everyone."

Johnson, a Sacramento landowner and developer who was an All-Star basketball player at Cal and with the NBA's Phoenix Suns, founded St. HOPE, the nonprofit organization that runs Sacramento Charter High School.

Johnson's announcement comes as a poll by California State University, Sacramento, finds the mayoral race is "wide open."

Many city residents (41 percent) are not yet committed to either Fargo or Johnson, the poll said.

It conducted a random survey of 380 residents from Feb. 16 to March 2.

The poll found that 36 percent of respondents approve of the way Fargo is performing as mayor, but that "the remaining residents (64 percent) either disapprove (35 percent) or say they don't know (29 percent)."

The respondents were asked who they would support for mayor between Johnson and Fargo: Fargo had 28 percent support, and Johnson had 29 percent.

The residents identified these as the main issues: economy, budget and taxes, followed by housing, development and flood control.

Respondents mentioned vision and integrity as other factors, the Sacramento State poll said.

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