5 Votes :: A Play By Play

MacKenzie Gilmore is the 2012 Chair of the Metro EDGE Regional Action Committee. She was in the City Council Chambers during the March 6 meeting and shares below what it was like to be there.  

Last night I had the opportunity to be a part of a public forum that has the potential to help move our region forward. The Sacramento city council met to vote on moving forward with the next phase of an Entertainment and Sports Complex (ESC). I had never attended a meeting like this before and was surprised to hear that I should arrive around 4:30 for a 6:00 meeting. But when I arrived the lobby was already swimming with people, both for and against the proposal. A sea of white shirts with “5 VOTES” printed on them, people in business suits with leather portfolios, and a woman behind me in tie dye and Birkenstock’s. The excitement and tension in the room were palatable. Individuals filed out forms indicating their desire to speak, and people waited patiently as the line steadily grew out the door and down the street. As the time drew closer Kevin Johnson appeared, thanking the crowd for their participation and shaking hands (including mine!). Finally we moved thru security and into the room.

First up was a presentation from City Manager John Shirey walking us thru the term sheet, a working outline of how the partners, the City of Sacramento, the Kings, and AEG Facilities, would work together for design, cost sharing, revenue participation, and a host of other topics.

Next came the opportunity for public comment. Those against the proposal discussed the fundamental objection to using public funds, belief that we should focus exclusively on being the State Capitol, and a desire to put the matter to a public vote.

The people who came to speak in favor of the measure were staggering. The vice mayor of Rancho Cordova came with a resolution from her city council asking for support of the measure. Metro Chamber chair Stan Van Vleck asks the members to “take a risk”. Legendary announcer Lee Perkins (Kevin Johnson was taken aback when he came forward) said we need to do this to “see the twinkle is kid’s eyes at events”. Scott Vandenberg, general manager of the Hyatt Regency discussed the power of drawing in convention business, Mike Ault from the Downtown Sacramento Partnership spoke of the ability to create more connection within the region, and Mike Testa from the Sacramento Convention and Visitor’s Bureau considers this a “transformational project (that will) enhance the city’s identity”.

Others suggested we can strive to be “more than just a city in between San Francisco and Lake Tahoe”. The president of the Stagehand’s Union asked that we consider the creation of jobs. One fan was wearing a classic Kevin Johnson Phoenix Sun’s jersey .  One put on a hard hat and broke into singing “We can Build This Dream Together”. 

Our Metro Edge Chair, Sean O’Brien said the new facility would be “a catalyst for change” and reminded them that “in 5, 10, 15 years, we will be the leaders of the region…We can’t afford to lose young professionals to other cities.”

At this point it’s pushing 9 PM. Nor council members are asking clarifying questions on the term sheet and their final statements. Although each member starts off my saying they will be brief, none speaks for less than 10 minutes.  Finally, just after 10 PM, it came time to cast the votes. The tension in the room rose dramatically, despite the late hour. Council Member Rob Fong made the motion to vote and one by one the City Clerk called the members’ names and the votes were cast. Angelique Ashby, “Yes” Sandy Sheedy , “No”.  Steve Cohn, “Yes”. Rob Fong, “Yes”. Jay Schenirer, “Yes”. Kevin McCarty, “No”.  Darrell Fong, “Yes”. Bonnie Pannell, “Yes”. All eyes are on Kevin Johnson as his name is called, he leans  back in his chair and called out “YES!” and the room erupted. Mostly in cheers.

This is a step forward – not a binding agreement. But as an EDGEr I was so proud to be a part of the process to determine the destiny of our region.

If you’re interested in joining the Metro EDGE Regional Action Committee, email MacKenzie here!