Los Gatos Weekly Times

Voters should give Newsom another term

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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.

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