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Local attorney Michael Rehm said he is running for the District 4 City Council seat because he sees it as an opportunity to make a difference in the city that his family has called home for nearly 100 years.
“I’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point, and I don’t take anything I’ve been blessed with for granted,” Rehm said Friday. “I think I can help a lot of people – not just in District 4, but in the whole city.”
Rehm, 33, grew up in Land Park as a third-generation Sacramentan. He has been a practicing attorney in both California and New York since passing both state bar exams in 2006, and he now has a private legal practice in Land Park.
Rehm said his courtroom experience has given him skills to establish rapport with a diverse set of people and the discipline to research issues and critically analyze each situation.
“You have to speak in public and think on your feet and make a convincing argument,” Rehm said. “But first, you have to really know the issues.”
Rehm said one problem he sees in most elections is that candidates are quick to make a stand on something, but fall short on the details.
“If I went into a bank to get a loan to start a business and I said, ‘I’m going to get you the details of my business after you give me the loan’ – that doesn’t make any sense,” Rehm said. “In any area of life, we won’t accept that, unless we’re talking about someone running for elected office, then we somehow think that’s OK.”
To counter that problem – and to make sure voters in District 4 get all the details – Rehm has set up a nightly webcam show to talk to voters directly on any city issue they want to ask about.
“It’s called ‘Candidate at Eight,’ ” Rehm said. “Monday through Friday, starting at 8 p.m., people can go onto my website and log in to the show and talk to me. They can ask me questions. We can analyze (the city’s) issues together.”
Some of those topics may include the new arena or the city budget or questions about handling local services – but nothing is off the table for Rehm, he said.
“If I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll say so. And then we’ll talk about it and work on it together,” Rehm said. “I’ll never pretend to know something I don’t.”
Rehm said he sees some issues getting overlooked at City Council that need more attention. Homelessness is one of those issues.
“If we want to work out the homeless issue, we should first decriminalize the behavior,” Rehm said. “If we can’t arrest them anymore, then we have to look at other options.
“That’s how you solve the problem: Remove the options that aren’t favorable for anyone and then look for the options that are,” he added.
When it comes to the city budget, Rehm said he wants to get a closer look at it before he takes a firm stand or offers a plan of attack.
“First of all, we have to be honest with ourselves about what we have,” Rehm said. “Instead of dumping money into something that doesn’t work, we could be spending money doing other things that help the city.”
The same goes for the new arena, Rehm said: details before deals.
“I’m for an arena plan, but there are details that I’m not aware of and that no one is aware of, and that concerns me,” Rehm said. “Anytime someone gives me information piecemeal, I get concerned.”
Rehm said his experience as a criminal defense attorney and a public defender inspired him to want to get more involved with the city.
“I’ve seen a lot of cruelty and a lot of unfairness, not just in the system, but overall,” Rehm said. “On the City Council, I can only make so much of a difference – but I can make a difference.”
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.