Los Gatos Weekly Times
Voters should give Newsom another term
In these times of deep political divisions, with war abroad, a pandemic plaguing the globe and fundamental privacy rights under assault by our own U.S. Supreme Court, Californians need stability in the state Capitol.
Through the past three-plus years, Gov. Gavin Newsom has guided California with calm leadership, usually letting science drive his response to the waves and surges of coronavirus while seeking to protect the state's economy and reduce the impact on the most vulnerable among us.
He has taken on the state's homelessness, housing, mental health and wildfire crises. He hasn't come close to reaching his lofty goals of success, but he has not shied from the challenges, and he recognizes that much work lies ahead.
And he has steadfastly represented
the values of most Californians — defending women's abortion rights, which at least in California remain strong for now; calling out discrimination based on race, gender or sexual orientation; working to balance the economic inequities that permeate the state; and striving to reduce California's carbon footprint.
There have certainly been areas for concern, such as Newsom's failure to show leadership on conservation during the drought or meaningfully address the state's water shortage, the unemployment insurance payment debacle,
his sweetheart contract for prison guards and the dreadful performance of our schools that was exacerbated by the pandemic.
But with little credible opposition in this year's election after he squashed last year's recall attempt, Newsom is by far the best pick on the ballot and deserves election to another four-year term.
On the biggest issue during his first term, while often inconsistent, Newsom stood above most of the nation's governors on his handling of the pandemic. To date, the state's COVID-19 death rate is 24% below the national average, while the state's vaccination rate is 9% above the entire country.
The state's 7.8% growth in gross domestic product in 2021 was third-best in the country, behind only New Hampshire and Tennessee, and far outpaced the national average of 5.7%. And California's unemployment rate that peaked at 16.1% during the recession has dropped to 4.9%, near PRE-COVID levels.
Newsom's opponents on the right attack him for what they perceive as a soaring crime rate. But, as we noted May 6 in our endorsement of Rob Bonta for attorney general, the GOP narrative isn't backed up by data.
California's populationadjusted property crime rate in 2020 was the lowest in 60 years, and the violent crime rate was near the lowest in 50 years, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
It's all to say that while the state faces daunting problems, and while Newsom's response has not always met expectations, he has a solid command of the issues and a tireless drive to better California.
Newsom faces 25 challengers on the June 7 ballot. Only two stand out in the pack: State Sen. Brian Dahle, who represents the conservative far northeast corner of California and was endorsed by the state Republican Party, and author Michael Shellenberger, a former Democrat running with no party preference whose slashing attacks on San Francisco's homeless programs have gained him some notoriety.
In their interviews, neither candidate exhibited a foundation for constructive, thoughtful leadership that represents the values of most Californians.
Dahle says he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19 and has contracted the coronavirus twice. He bemoans the state's one-party rule, a concern we share, but his politics are more closely aligned with the governors of, say, Texas and Florida than the people of his home state.
Shellenberger, who garnered 0.5% of the vote when he ran for governor in 2018, says he's better organized this time. His perspective on homelessness is thought-provoking. But when he ventures into, say, COVID-19 vaccinations, which he incorrectly says are no better protection than catching the virus, or the state's energy policy, on which he says California should permit more oil drilling, his credibility with us plummets. And when he resorts to repeatedly branding Newsom as corrupt, it becomes clear that his angry form of politics is counterproductive.
Yes, Newsom has been an imperfect leader. He deserves credit for his successes and criticisms for his failures. But, in this field of candidates, he's clearly the best pick for governor.