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What's the legacy of Mayor Kevin Johnson?

Kevin Johnson's last full Sacramento City Council meeting is Tuesday, December 6. As he leaves office, let's take a look back at his two terms as the mayor of Sacramento.

Credit: ABC10
Mayor Kevin Johnson

Kevin Johnson's mayoral tenure has been a roller-coaster ride.

His last full Sacramento City Council meeting is Tuesday, December 6. As he leaves office, let's take a look back at his two terms as the mayor of Sacramento.

Before becoming Mayor

You cannot mention Mayor Johnson without discussing his background prior to his political career.

As a Sacramento-born and a product of the Oak Park neighborhood, Johnson went to Sacramento Charter High School. Following graduation, he attended and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, before entering the NBA.

In 1989, a few years into his NBA career, he founded an organization called St. HOPE, an after-school program aimed at helping schools and students in his former hometown.

During his 13-year NBA career, Johnson's accolades piled up, including being a three-time NBA All-Star, a five-time member of All-NBA teams, the first men's basketball player in Berkeley's history to have his jersey retired, and was inducted into the Phoenix Suns Ring of Honor.

Eight years after his retirement, he announced his decision to run in the 2008 mayoral race against incumbent Heather Fargo. Johnson defeated Fargo by a margin of almost 30,000 votes, becoming the first African-American mayor in Sacramento's history.

First and second term

During his first term, he launched many initiatives helping aid various areas like education, Sacramento youth, the homeless and others.

STAND UP was one of those initiatives, focusing on youth education and dedicated to ensuring children have an equal opportunity in schooling. Sacramento Steps Forward, another of his initiatives, aimed at helping the homeless by improving the efficiency of services.

In 2012, he ran and won a re-election bid, winning outright during the primary election by receiving more than 50 percent of the votes. During the second term, he became the first Sacramento mayor selected as the Second Vice President and then the President Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

One of his most notable achievements as mayor was his involvement in preventing the Sacramento Kings from moving to Seattle and helping create a plan for building what is now the Golden One Center — the new downtown arena which has become the highlight of the revival of downtown.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson (right) and Vivek Ranadive (left) cut a giant ribbon outside the brand new Golden 1 Center on Friday morning. 

Also under the Johnson era, City Council approved a $10 million innovation and growth fund to help kick start the city's high tech sector and new tech companies. They approved the water rate hike, which is an increase in water and wastewater utility fees over the next five years.

The Controversy

Even though he had an immediate affect on the city, on-going sexual misconduct allegations overshadowed those moments.

Dating back as far as 1995, Johnson was accused of sexual misconduct by a 16-year-old girl in Phoenix. Though he was never charged with any crime, those type of claims would continue, with a few coming under his mayoral leadership.

Around 2008, additional allegations arose, this time from a 17-year-old girl who was involved in the St. HOPE organization, an independent public charter school system. The allegations were eventually recanted.

In October 2015, ESPN planned to air a '30 for 30' documentary titled 'Down in the Valley,' focusing on Sacramento's journey to keep the Kings with Johnson leading the charge, but decided to postpone the release after misconduct allegations from Phoenix resurfaced in the news.

Also in 2015, another accusation of sexual harassment, this time by a former aide who worked in the City Manager's office. No criminal charges were filed.

Johnson has strongly denied all allegations.

In July 2016, the City of Sacramento also released email documents after a judge's order, relating to Johnson and members of his staff's role in a takeover of a Black Mayors group in 2013.

Johnson garnered national attention again in September 2016 after a man slammed a pie in his face and Johnson, who remained unharmed, proceeded to fight off the pie thrower leaving the man bruised. He was attending a farm-to-fork dinner at Sacramento Charter High School.

His policies and initiatives will affect the future, but his legacy as of now is that of a controversial figure with shining moments who is unfortunately synonymous with negativity.

Johnson’s successor, former state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, will take office on Dec. 13.

With Johnson's run now over, what's his lasting legacy? Leave a comment below.

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