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Bagatelos may take on McCarty for District 6 council seat

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When it comes to talking about how to run a city, local developer and City Council District 6 candidate Jon Bagatelos is all business.

Bagatelos, co-owner of Bagatelos Architectural Glass Systems and Bagatelos Development, LLC, was recruited to join the City Council race by business, community and public safety groups who are “tired of the way things are going with the city,” Bagatelos, 44, said Wednesday.

Bagatelos has not officially filed notice of his candidacy, but said he expects to select a campaign manager within the next couple of weeks. He will be running against incumbent Kevin McCarty for the City Council District 6 seat.

One of the main reasons he decided to consider the council seat, he said, is McCarty’s position on charter reform – more commonly referred to as “strong mayor.”

“I’m disappointed that he won’t vote to put it on the ballot,” Bagatelos said. “I would say he’s wrong on some of his positions, especially the strong mayor issue.”

Bagatelos said he supports a strong mayor system of government – not because of any loyalty to Mayor Kevin Johnson – but because he wants an accountable city council.

“I’m for (strong mayor) because the executive should have his authority, and the council – the legislative body – should have its authority,” Bagatelos said. “The city should not be run by an unelected city manager. That’s not accountability.”

Bagatelos has a self-described “one-track mind” about Sacramento that hinges on creating a business-friendly environment to create jobs and boost the local economy.

“We’ve dug a hole, and we have a lot of city services that we take for granted but we can’t afford,” Bagatelos said. “It’s going to take time to build the revenue to pay for those things. That’s just the truth of it.”

That’s not to say he’s against social services, Bagatelos was quick to point out – but he believes spending decisions need to be made carefully.

“The people on (the City) Council think money grows on trees and – they’re the government – they think they can spend what they don’t have,” Bagatelos said. “I don’t believe in that. If that makes me a radical, well, OK.”

The key to providing services such as transportation and utilities and homeless programs, Bagatelos said, is fostering an environment where companies want to come to Sacramento – and bring employment opportunities with them.

“That creates jobs for people who pay taxes, and taxes provide revenue for those needed services,” he said.

If the key to providing city services is tax-producing businesses, then the key to drawing them to the city, Bagatelos said, is the proposed entertainment and sports complex.

“The arena is a major opportunity. It will create jobs for the city,” Bagatelos said. “To have (the arena) happen would be instrumental to the growth of this city.”

Bagatelos has been criticized in the media and by some in McCarty’s camp for not living in the district – questioning both his eligibility for the race and his commitment to the district.

He and his family currently live in East Sacramento, but they also own a home in Campus Commons which was drawn into council District 6 through the recent redisticting process.

“I own a house in the district, my business is in the district, and over the years we’ve employed hundreds – if not thousands – of people,” Bagatelos said.

“If the biggest complaint against me is where I live, that’s not much of a complaint,” he added.

Mark Friedman, president of Fulcrum Group development company, worked alongside Bagatelos as co-chair of Johnson’s finance committee when Johnson ran for his mayoral seat in 2008.

“(Bagatelos) is deeply engaged in local politics and has been (politically) active for many years,” Friedman said Thursday.

“He’s focused on building the economy and creating jobs,” Friedman said. “If the economy doesn’t improve, then his district doesn’t improve – no district will.”

Friedman said he will be an “enthusiastic” supporter of Bagatelos’ campaign because he feels Bagatelos will bring a “fresh, business-friendly perspective” to the City Council.

The upcoming City Council election will not be Bagatelos’ first foray into the political arena: In 2002, he unsuccessfully ran for the 8th Assembly District seat shortly after starting Bagatelos Development, LLC, with his brothers, Chris and Nick Bagatelos.

When McCarty spoke with The Sacramento Press Sept. 26 about his intention to run for re-election, he said that he welcomes a challenge in the upcoming race.

“Elections are supposed to be about democracy,” McCarty said in the interview, “that means choosing the best candidate in a competitive race.”

McCarty’s campaign consultant, Andrew Acosta, said Wednesday that McCarty has been fighting for his district since he was first elected in 2004 and will continue his work for the people he represents – despite any challengers for his seat.

“If the mayor’s (political) machine intends to run someone against (McCarty),” Acosta said, “then we’ll have a campaign and we’ll discuss the issues.”

Bagatelos said his campaign will be based on asking people, “Do you think things are getting done right in the city? If not, vote for me.”

“It’s really that simple,” he said.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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