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Sacramento's Mayor Won't Seek Re-Election Amid Sexual Abuse Allegations

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said his decision not to seek re-election "was an incredibly difficult choice, but one that I feel confident about."
Rich Pedroncelli
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said his decision not to seek re-election "was an incredibly difficult choice, but one that I feel confident about."

Former NBA star and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced he will not be seeking a third term in office next year.

In a statement posted to his Twitter account late Tuesday night, he said he was "humbled" by the opportunity to serve and "he wouldn't change a single moment" of his time in office.

"After much thought and soul-searching I have decided not to run for a third term as Mayor. It was an incredibly difficult choice, but one that I feel confident about. As I'm sure there will be much speculation on this, let me proactively say that I am not leaving for another specific job or position. While there are many intriguing opportunities out there (and I'm excited to explore them) I honestly don't know what's next for me."

Johnson addressed reporters Wednesday at a complex in the Oak Park section of town he help revitalized after he returned to his hometown as mayor.

"Have we accomplished everything? No, we haven't. Is the city in a better position? Without a doubt," Johnson said during his press conference. He went on to add, "At the end of the day, I felt that I wanted to make a decision that was in the best interest of Sacramento."

Johnson, who gained legions of fans as an all-star point guard with the Phoenix Suns in the late 1980s and 1990s, received praise throughout his tenure as mayor for helping to rejuvenate California's capital city, but he also attracted controversy.

In recent weeks, Johnson has faced increased scrutiny stemming from allegations of sexual misconduct that took place nearly two decades ago. Last month, Deadspin published articles featuring a woman who alleges that when she was 16, the basketball star sexually abused her, then signed a draft agreement to pay her a six-figure sum in hush money.

The Sacramento Bee reports:

"Johnson said resurfaced allegations of sexual misconduct against him had nothing to do with this decision, saying he has 'never made a life decision' based on those allegations.

" 'When it was time to run in the first place (in 2008), I would have never run if those allegations were something that concerned me,' he said.

"Johnson added he has no immediate plans to seek higher office after his term ends next year and indicated he will remain in Sacramento."

According to the Sacramento Bee, the allegations were first reported in 2008 by the paper, which said the accuser and Johnson "signed a draft settlement agreement worth $230,000."

Earlier this month, Deadspin posted a video of the accuser being interviewed by Phoenix law enforcement in 1996. The video's release prompted ESPN to push back the release of a documentary about the mayor's efforts to keep the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise from leaving the city for Seattle in 2013.

The Los Angeles Times adds that Johnson brought a level of celebrity to the mayor's office. According to the Times:

"Aided by the cachet of being a former all-star point guard for the Phoenix Suns, Johnson often found himself in the national spotlight during his seven years in office.

"He served as head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, has been an outspoken advocate of President Obama's trade agenda and represented the National Basketball Players Assn. in its efforts to oust Donald Sterling from his ownership of the Clippers because of Sterling's disparaging remarks about African Americans."

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Brakkton Booker is a National Desk reporter based in Washington, DC.