Newsom has the right vi­sion to be gov­er­nor

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY THE FRESNO BEE ED­I­TO­RIAL BOARD

The Fresno Bee Ed­i­to­rial Board was ad­mit­tedly skep­ti­cal of Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom when its mem­bers sat for a phone in­ter­view with him this past week. What would the for­mer Demo­cratic mayor of San Fran­cisco, with his coif­feured hair and de­signer clothes, know about the cen­tral San Joaquin Val­ley? There was no dirt un­der his fin­ger­nails. Did he even care about our re­gion? Just how much at­ten­tion would he give it if he be­comes Cal­i­for­nia’s next gov­er­nor?

Far from be­ing a smoothtalk­ing, love-you-to­day-and­n­ever-see-you-again can­di­date, Newsom was im­pres­sive in his knowl­edge. He was apolo­getic for ur­ban elite who he said are smart peo­ple with­out a clue about the Val­ley. He was com­pas­sion­ate to­ward the work­ing poor who make up much of the Val­ley’s pop­u­la­tion.

And he was in­spir­ing in his vi­sion for the Val­ley’s fu­ture, and that of the state over­all.

By con­trast, busi­ness­man John Cox, the Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date, was long on de­scrib­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s cur­rent ills, but short on bold ideas to put the shine on the Golden State.

For these rea­sons, The Bee rec­om­mends vot­ers sup­port Newsom as gov­er­nor.

Newsom has big ideas in spades. This ed­i­to­rial can­not pos­si­ble cover them all, so go to his cam­paign web­site to read them.

But here are the key take­aways that told us Newsom is all in when it comes to mak­ing sure the Val­ley re­mains a key part of the Cal­i­for­nia dream.

“I want to break the meme of elected of­fi­cials ig­nor­ing the Val­ley,” he said. “There is a grow­ing di­vide of coastal and in­land. I truly want to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of all of the state.”

First, he knows the Val­ley is cen­tered on agri­cul­ture — and yet is is be­com­ing much more. The day be­fore he talked with the ed­i­to­rial board, he met with stu­dents at UC Merced and was im­pressed by their “young, dy­namic en­trepreneur­ship.” Newsom has also seen that at the Bit­wise tech in­cu­ba­tor in down­town Fresno.

But where does ag fit in his view? “Cal­i­for­nia is like a three­legged stool. Agri­cul­ture is one of the legs ... Agri­cul­ture is pro­foundly im­por­tant to me,” he said, not­ing that he owns four wine-grape vine­yards and four winer­ies.

Val­ley farm­ers of­ten feel Bay Area lib­eral in­ter­ests are work­ing against them. Newsom ad­mit­ted to ig­no­rance on the part of those in the ur­ban cen­ters like San Fran­cisco. Peo­ple there “are re­mark­ably un­aware of the frame you just ad­vanced and how raw those feel­ings re­ally are ... We are talk­ing down to peo­ple in the Val­ley. That has to stop. It is a dis­grace, ac­tu­ally. I un­der­stand why peo­ple (in the Val­ley) have real an­i­mus and hard feel­ings. It is war­ranted.”

How would he change that? “Gov­ern­ment has a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be an ad­vo­cate to un­der­stand­ing and de­vel­op­ing stronger re­la­tion­ships. There are re­ally bright peo­ple who have not trav­eled the state and got­ten out and ap­pre­ci­ated the abun­dance in the state and the in­cred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tion of farm­ers and what they are do­ing.”

Wa­ter is crit­i­cal to farm­ing, and if elected, Newsom promises to make sure farm­ing in­ter­ests are rep­re­sented when he makes ap­point­ments to the state Wa­ter Re­sources Con­trol Board. When re­minded how that board al­lo­cated too few dol­lars from the last big state wa­ter bond to the pro­posed Tem­per­ance Flat Reser­voir project on the San Joaquin River, Newsom pointed out that he is no stranger to dam projects. San Fran­cisco re­lies on Hetch Hetchy Reser­voir in Yosemite Na­tional Park for its wa­ter. “I be­lieve in stor­age, pas­sion­ately. You make an ar­gu­ment on above ground, be­low ground, con­junc­tive use. I am there.”

On the econ­omy, Newsom of­fers for­ward-think­ing ideas that would ben­e­fit the Val­ley:

He pledges to cre­ate work­force and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment plans for re­gions of the state. “The In­land Em­pire and San Joaquin Val­ley have unique strengths that dif­fer from Los An­ge­les and the Bay Area. Cal­i­for­nia must har­ness its geo­graphic eco­nomic di­ver­sity and plan ac­cord­ingly.”

To aid small busi­nesses, es­pe­cially those owned by mi­nori­ties and women, Newsom wants to cut reg­u­la­tions and ex­pand ac­cess to cap­i­tal.

To­ward the goal of en­sur­ing young peo­ple to­day will have jobs in the fu­ture, Newsom will ask the UC, CSU and com­mu­nity col­leges to re­view in­dus­try trends and what skills work­ers will need. From there, cur­ricu­lum will be de­vel­oped so stu­dents can grad­u­ate job ready.

An­other form of job prepa­ra­tion is cre­ation of 500,000 “earn-and-learn” ap­pren­tice­ships. With 2029 as the dead­line for this goal, Newsom sees it as a “vo­ca­tional pipe­line of high­skill work­ers.”

As au­toma­tion ex­pands and work­ers are re­placed by ma­chines, Newsom wants to cush­ion that blow by cre­at­ing what he calls “skills ac­counts.” These would be backed by state gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and la­bor, and would al­low older work­ers who are dis­placed to re­turn to com­mu­nity col­lege for train­ing so they can land new jobs.

Newsom was an early pro­po­nent of high-speed rail and, un­like Cox, con­tin­ues to sup­port the bul­let train project. But now he sees state sup­port dif­fer­ently from what vot­ers orig­i­nally ap­proved. Rather than run­ning from the Bay Area to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Newsom calls high speed rail a “val­ley to val­ley” sys­tem — Sil­i­con Val­ley to Cen­tral Val­ley. He will ex­pect re­al­is­tic bud­get­ing by the rail au­thor­ity as well so more cost over­runs don’t oc­cur. He will look to pri­vate en­ter­prise to run the line from the San Joaquin Val­ley to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

If a re­ces­sion does not hit the state, he promises to put more fund­ing into high ed­u­ca­tion – “hold me ac­count­able in that first bud­get.”

As lieu­tenant gov­er­nor for nearly eight years, Newsom has been able to watch Gov. Jerry Brown man­age the state bud­get and the Leg­is­la­ture’s of­ten over­the-top wishes. Newsom says he can use the line-item veto when nec­es­sary. “I will do my best to hold the line. We need to pay down debt. And there are ma­jor pen­sion is­sues in this state.”

Ask Cox about Cal­i­for­nia and he rapidly ticks off prob­lem ar­eas: ex­pen­sive hous­ing, gov­ern­ment over­reg­u­la­tion, state agen­cies fail­ing to do their jobs. “I don’t know how Gavin Newsom runs for gov­er­nor. If you look at the cost of liv­ing, of gas, elec­tric­ity, schools are 47th in the na­tion, these are qual­ity-oflife is­sues peo­ple care about. This state has gone off the rails on qual­ity of life.”

Newsom of­fers hope in­stead: “There are lots of chal­lenges, but there are so many damn good things go­ing on. There is no other place I’d rather be.”

Add that to his ex­pe­ri­ence in state gov­ern­ment and two terms as mayor of San Fran­cisco, and Newsom is ready to be Cal­i­for­nia’s next gov­er­nor. The Bee rec­om­mends vot­ers sup­port him.

RICH PEDRONCELLI AP

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, right, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for gov­er­nor, talks with re­porters af­ter his visit to the Pen­leigh Child De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day in Sacra­mento.

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