12 Days of Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis; Day 9 - Trying To Imitate Kevin Johnson, Davis' Power Grab Disintegrates

December 6, 2016 |   

In nine days from today, Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis will leave office. In honor of his last 12 days in office, we will take a look back at some of the most memorable aspects of Davis' tenure.  

Reviewing Mayor Gary Davis' tenure has revealed some eerily similar patterns between him and another official preparing to leave office on Tuesday, December 13, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. 

Davis, like Johnson, is a big supporter of charter schools. As an employee of the California Charter School Association, Davis had twice tried and failed to establish a charter school in the Elk Grove Unified School District.

Johnson, who returned to Sacramento after his distinguished NBA career, was able to wrest control of Sacramento High School and turn it into a charter school called St. Hope Academy. Although both Davis and Johnson claim to be Democrats, their advocacy of charter schools made them outliers within their party.

Additionally, both men made the advocacy of charter schools a family affair. Johnson married nationally known education reformer, Michelle Rhee, while Davis, with $160,000 from his employer, helped his wife Heather Davis get elected to the Sacramento County Office of Education Board of Directors last spring running on a pro-charter school agenda.

While Johnson succeeded in keeping the NBA's Sacramento Kings from relocating to Seattle, he helped conceive and birth the new Golden One Center in Downtown Sacramento. Although Davis did not succeed, he tried copying Johnson by suggesting Elk Grove build a $100-million soccer stadium in hopes of luring an expansion franchise of Major League Soccer. 

Johnson and Sacramento appear, for the time being, to have won that battle as the MLS has said a Sacramento club is in their future expansion plans. Apparently, Davis' tweet calling Johnson a ball hog was not quite enough to bring MLS to The Grove.

But really, was Elk Grove ever taken seriously? More on this in a few days.

Interestingly, after Johnson's success in retaining the Kings and getting the new arena built, he tried a power grab that ultimately backfired on him. We are referring to Johnson's ill-fated Measure L proposal in 2014 to create a strong mayor form of government in Sacramento.

Sacramento voters turned their back on the proposal handing a defeat so humiliating that, according to the Sacramento Bee, Johnson considered resigning halfway through his four-year term. Johnson's dropped from public view since then and will unceremoniously conclude his term one week from today.

Like Johnson, in recent months Davis tried a power grab on behalf of then Mayoral candidate and current Mayor-elect Steve Ly. After Davis had dropped out of the race earlier this summer, under still-murky circumstances, he pushed to make the Mayor position full-time. 

Davis' reasoning was that despite having gotten himself a full-time assistant with flexible work arrangements,  the Mayoral duties were overwhelming. He further rationalized the request saying his successor would be the beneficiary. 

Apparently, Davis, who was regularly outsmarted by Hume, was trying to help the likely winner of the race, Ly, who lacks the intellectual prowess much less toughness, an edge over his colleagues. Davis' power grab for Ly disintegrated right in his hand.

Like Johnson, Davis mostly faded from the public view after that defeat. 

Of course, once Ly's victory lap around the region's New Year celebrations concludes sometime early next year, the matter is destined to come back given the Mayor-elect's penchant for traveling with an entourage of photographers and bodyguards. In a post-election interview with  KCRA, Ly bemoaned the fact that he will still have to work two jobs because the city council positions are part-time.

Interestingly, two Elk Grove City Council members told Elk Grove News that they would continue to oppose the full-time Mayor and City Council positions. Should the City Council decide to appoint someone to the upcoming District 4 council vacancy, you can be sure this will be a topic discussed behind closed doors. 


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