Two Sacramento City Council members are running against each other for the vacant Assembly District 7 seat. For all their similarities, the two candidates' strongly disagree on Sacramento's downtown arena.
Both Steve Cohn and Kevin McCarty say a vote for them means support of education, public safety, and the environment. And while McCarty says the two probably agree "about 95-percent of the time" on issues facing the council, the new home to the Sacramento Kings isn't one of them.
Cohn supports an arena paid for -in part- with public-financing, but opposed a public vote on the project.
"People that have watched closely understand that I share a vision of what this city can be -you know, our downtown with an arena, with a soccer stadium, with the rejuvenated downtown to match the great things we've done midtown. Mr. McCarty doesn't seem to quite get that."
McCarty was in the minority on the council, and says voters should appreciate his willingness to go against the grain.
"I'm a sports fanatic, but that doesn't mean I have to be an idiot as far as public policy," McCarty says. "I thought that we should have had a vote, pure and simple. You know, we vote on school bonds. We vote on other big measures. And, you know, spending nearly $700 million over the next 36 years in bond payments for this is a big issue."
McCarty says funding education would be his top priority in the Assembly. He believes billions of dollars for education could be found in the state corrections budget.
"I think it's a disgrace that we're in the bottom five states in the nation in both per-pupil funding and test scores," McCarty says. "You know, when I went to public schools here in the 70's and 80's we were in the top-15 in the nation. So, I think we need to turn that around from pre-school to our public schools all the way to college and university."
Cohn says education and jobs go hand-in-hand. He says the state needs to do more to spur job creation and should increase support of alternative forms of transportation.
He says he has the experience to do both.
"I worked with legislators all the way down the valley and into the Bay Area to start up Capitol Corridor San Joaquin rail service which replaced Cal Trans management,' says Cohn. "These are two of the most successful corridors in the country."
McCarty has more support from state legislators and labor unions.
Cohn has the support of the region's mayors and local business.
Support for the two candidates among city and county elected officials and local community leaders is evenly split.