It may soon be time to revisit the question
of what to pay West Sacramento’s mayor.
Currently, the four council members and
the mayor each receive a stipend of $300 per month plus $30 per meeting. Divide
that by dozens of hours of reading reports and attending meetings and civic
events, and you’ll find that’s not very much. Consider that council members –
and especially the mayor – may also be called by duty away from any “day job”
they might have, and it’s even less.
This stipend may work well enough for council
members. But the job of West Sacramento mayor is even bigger than that of a
council member, and it’s separately elected by voters.
West Sacramento has been fortunate to have a
longtime mayor, Christopher Cabaldon, who has been able to earn a living
privately while putting in scores of hours per month as the city’s mayor. Few
can do that. And the person who just challenged Cabaldon for the mayor’s post
happens to be retired, and doesn’t have to have a “day job.” Not everyone is in
that position, either. But whoever won that election, the city would have got a
bargain – a lot of hours of work from the mayor, and a diminished capacity to
earn a living, for a few hundred dollars a month.
For many people who might otherwise be
qualified to be mayor, the job just isn’t financially possible. It’s too hard
to work and be mayor (and, heaven forbid, have a family) at the same time.
Sometime in the near future, West
Sacramentans may want to consider offering their mayor something more than a
symbolic stipend. Perhaps a compensation level equivalent to a part-time wage
is now appropriate for mayor of this city of over 40,000. That would certainly increase
the number of qualified people who could afford to run for the job.
Of course, there’s no reason to raise the pay
right now. The city has landed a qualified mayor for the next couple of years,
and the city is still facing budget hardships triggered by the country’s “Great
Recession.” The timing to raise the
stipend is wrong. But the timing to talk about raising the stipend is pretty
good – a time when it can be discussed for some point relatively far in the
future, with no particular mayor or mayoral candidate in mind to cloud the
There’s a little item in the News-Ledger’s
police log this week:
A woman called dispatchers to report that she
had just accidentally backed into somebody’s pickup truck. The truck’s owner
wasn’t around. But instead of sneaking away under cover of darkness, the woman
reported that she was leaving her contact information on the truck’s
windshield, as well as with police, in case the other driver contacted them.
It’s the kind of honesty that doesn’t show up
often enough in the police log.
Parking lot driver, whoever you are, the
News-Ledger salutes you.