Kevin Johnson and Heather Fargo shared their visions for the future of Sacramento at a mayoral debate hosted by Sacramento State on Monday.
The audience, primarily Sac State students, came prepared with questions for the candidates to answer during the debate. The moderators, KCRA 3's Pamela Wu and Walt Gray and KXJZ 90.9 FM's Jeffrey Callison, called on the students to pose questions.
The debate was often contentious and feisty, both candidates trading barbs at times with each other.
In discussing Fargo's travels around the country, Johnson accused her of spending taxpayer money while not bringing back any significant lessons or plans for Sacramento. Fargo responded by saying Johnson's legal situations make the city's problems "look mild."
When at times the debate seemed to turn toward each candidate's legal accusations, students brought the issues back to the forefront.
Both candidates viewed Sac State as an important partner with the city, as the university has graduates in positions of power in the Sacramento region. In an interview with The Hornet on Oct.1, Johnson said Sac State was "one of our most valuable jewels in our community." Fargo viewed the recent memorandum of understanding with Sac State as a benefit to both the city and the university, particularly in the field of offering internships to students and more student housing near campus.
Junior business major Chris Smith expressed concerns regarding the personal attacks between the candidates and Terry Martin, junior government major, believed Fargo's attacks went just too far against Johnson.
However, others thought the debate gave students a chance to get questions answered on issues related to them.
"I think the debate went really well," said ASI Vice President Roberto Torres. "I came here really wanting to listen to the issues and I think both candidates were giving answers to questions students really wanted to know."
He commended the students' questions, as the answers from both candidates were substantive and relevant to student issues. He heard different standpoints from the candidates and felt Fargo put her strong points across concerning K Street Mall.
Torres said it is "really hard for the challenger to come in and say exactly what they want to do when they really have no real grasp of what the position entails."
"In just listening to what they were saying I was able to formulate sort of an idea (of who to vote for), but I think I need to do a lot more homework and I encourage any student that came here today undecided to go do more homework and see really where the candidates stand," Torres said.
At the post-debate conference, Johnson and Fargo's personal attacks dominated the conversation with reporters. Johnson pointed out Fargo's lack of leadership skills and oversight in regard to missing water meters and a financial scandal at the public library. Fargo fired back with Johnson's alleged sexual misconduct with minors in Phoenix and Sacramento.
"I don't understand how Kevin has the gall to question me given what he's up against," she said. "The man has got some real problems with reality."
Sac State President Alexander Gonzalez declared the campus the ultimate winner of the debate, citing the candidates' openness to the students and their understanding of student related issues.
"If there was a winner in the debate, it was the campus. By having it here, having both the candidates know so much and have such a strong interest in the universitythat was good. For students especially whoever gets elected, I hope tha they see the university as a resource for part of what they do," Gonzalez said.
Both candidates are coming from a close primary season in which six other candidates ran for the office; Johnson received 46.6 percent of the vote, Fargo, 39.7 percent. Since neither candidate received the majority, both will face off on Nov. 4.