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CAMPAIGN '08: LEGISLATIVE RACES; AROUND THE STATE

Runoff will decide race for Sacramento mayor

Former NBA star leads but falls short of a majority. San Diego mayor is reelected.

June 05, 2008|Eric Bailey and Tony Perry | Times Staff Writers

SACRAMENTO — In his first drive for elected office, former NBA star Kevin Johnson won the most votes in the heated race to become mayor of California's capital city but fell short of the threshold needed to avoid a November runoff.

Sacramento's mayoral race was the most bitter in decades, pitting two-term incumbent Heather Fargo against the former Phoenix Suns star. One of the Democrats had to capture more than 50% of the vote to win the seat outright. Johnson received 47%, Fargo got 40%.

The election debate revolved around Johnson's character and qualifications.

He had earned a golden reputation by helping revitalize his Oak Park neighborhood, but his standing plummeted in recent weeks amid allegations he molested a teenage girl in Phoenix 13 years ago and another last year in Sacramento. No charges were brought in either case.

In San Diego, Mayor Jerry Sanders was reelected over businessman Steve Francis. In unofficial returns, Sanders received 54% of the vote to 35% for Francis, a fellow Republican; three minor candidates split the rest.

In the other closely watched San Diego race, City Atty. Michael Aguirre will be in a runoff with Superior Court Judge Jan Goldsmith. Goldsmith, who had taken a leave of absence to challenge the controversial incumbent, received 32% of the vote, narrowly outpolling Aguirre, who received 29%. More than 50% of the vote was needed for outright victory. Two City Council members and a former deputy city attorney were also in the race.

In Mendocino County, voters appeared to repeal an 8-year-old law that made the region an epicenter of the marijuana movement, although a substantial number of votes remain to be counted, according to opponents.

Measure B, which had 52% of the vote Wednesday, would reverse a 2000 law that decriminalized 25-plant cannabis gardens, allowing cultivation even for recreational use.

Backers of the revolt say the county is in the grips of a marijuana economy that has brought unwanted crime, environmental trouble and cultural change. But foes of Measure B say it aims at the wrong target. Instead of focusing on busting large backwoods commercial growers, they say, police will start arresting small-scale growers, many of them medical marijuana patients.

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eric.bailey@latimes.com

tony. perry@latimes.com

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