Tuesday, October 21, 2008

KJ For Mayor!

Here's one we missed! Former Phoenix Suns great Kevin Johnson is running for Mayor of Sacramento:
Officially, Johnson’s mayoral campaign centers on public safety, better schools, and economic development, particularly of Sacramento’s riverfront, which he believes could rival those he visited as a ballplayer in San Antonio, Chicago, and Washington. But his greatest appeal is that he exhibits that most useful of mayoral traits, an easygoing familiarity with the full menagerie of urban life, from black teenagers to white developers. To this, he adds a quality as common to good politicians as it is rare among pro athletes: eager solicitude for the opinions of others.

Sometimes this has amusing consequences. At evening’s end, Johnson was the honored guest at a meeting of Hmong businessmen—a gathering over which the 6-foot-1-inch Johnson towered, much as most NBA players once towered over him. He talked briefly before opening the floor. For an hour he charmed and bantered (when necessary, through an interpreter), and he was getting ready to call it a night when he was hit with the kind of question every politician dreads, the kind you can’t possibly prepare for. Traditional Hmong shamanism involves the sacrifice of live animals, typically in the home, a practice that had resulted in a felony arrest. What was his position on animal sacrifice?

Johnson froze. The room was silent. He seemed to be wondering whether this was a joke, before deciding that, no, it probably was not a joke, and he had better not laugh. Then Johnson, still quick on his feet, spotted the play and flashed a high-wattage smile. “I’m here tonight to learn what I can do for you,” he said, “and this is exactly the type of issue that I’ll address as mayor, which is why I would like, right now, for volunteers to raise their hands if they’ll agree to be my liaison to the Hmong community.” Soon, five candidates had declared themselves to uproarious applause. Johnson brought them all, giggling and snapping pictures, to the front of the room. Game over.
Sounds like his moves in politics are as skilled as those on the basketball court. KJ's endorsement list includes labor unions and plenty of prominent California Democrats like former Speaker Fabian Nuñez. I'm rooting for him!

Read the whole thing at The Atlantic.

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