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The Sacramento Press live interview with District 4 City Council candidate Steve Hansen last Wednesday had one key moment of contention: Why he had changed his position on Measure U, a proposed temporary half-cent sales tax to fund city services that will be on the November ballot.
In the video, he addresses a blunt question from a Sacramento Press reader, and explains why he once opposed the measure but now supports it.
It was clear before the chat began that Measure U would be a focal point of the discussion. Hansen's opponent, Joe Yee, cited it during our live chat with him as the one area where he and Hansen had clearly different viewpoints, with Yee saying he supported the measure while Hansen did not. Hansen released a statement shortly after Yee's interview saying that Yee had mischaracterized his position and that he did indeed support Measure:
"Contrary to the comments earlier of my competitor, I do support Measure U, the temporary sales tax, which has become a necessity in the face of increased crime and deteriorated parks. Further budget cuts will undermine basic services. The City must be cautious in maintaining a higher sales tax than the region for any longer than necessary and ensure that one time money is not spent structurally. The Council must also lead by example through strong oversight and controls to prevent abuse, which will be my focus, if elected."
About an hour before the Sac Press Live chat with Hansen began, we sent him a questionnaire he filled out for the Young Democrats of Sacramento County in which he clearly stated his opposition to Measure U, saying, "At this time, I do not support the city tax initiative, because, among several reasons, of the need toof the need to of the need to pass the Governor’s measure on the fall ballot. I support taxes and fees appropriate to the level of public services needed to meet the needs of our city within the constraints of growing a resilienteconomy."
Hansen responded to the doc by saying that he had forgotten about the questionnaire as he had filled it out months ago, and explained that, as he answered at the time, he was initially opposed to Measure U because he thought that putting it on the ballot would draw support from Governor Jerry Brown's proposed sales tax increase. He said that rising crime in the city and the deterioration of Sacramento's parks changed his mind.
“I’ve started to see we’ve had this huge spike in violent crime in the city, I think a 53 percent increase this year," he said. "And for me one of the things that sealed the deal, making it very clear to me that we had no other choice, wasn’t just the state of our parks. I saw a drug deal at Cesar Chavez, and we were able to catch the guy: He had 18 warrants. But our safety had really declined.”
Worth noting here is that Measure U is supported by the public sector unions. While Yee has the backing of several trade unions, Hansen has been endorsed by the firefighters and police unions.
For more on the background of the interview, the reporting that led to it, and the back-and-forth before the chat started, sign up for our Sacto Politco newsletter, a roundup of city politics news that goes out every Wednesday.
I'll be highlighting several other points in my interviews with Hansen and Yee as we build up to a digital and "real-world" town hall with both candidates in late October. (more details on that forum soon).
Have a particular issue you'd like me to focus on in my next post? Let me know in the conversation below.