New­som in Fresno: Econ­omy, health, hous­ing at fore­front

The Fresno Bee - - Front Page - BY RORY AP­PLE­TON rap­ple­[email protected]­

Gov.-elect Gavin New­som dis­cussed sev­eral key is­sues Fri­day with dozens of cen­tral San Joaquin Val­ley lead­ers and more than 100 com­mu­nity mem­bers in a packed town hall in cen­tral Fresno.

New­som re­minded the crowd that he promised to re­turn to Fresno dur­ing his last stop while on cam­paign, and the state’s fu­ture top man spent hours be­ing in­un­dated with tes­ti­mony. His af­ter­noon be­gan with a se­ries of closed-door meet­ings with lo­cal lead­ers and ended in a more pub­lic town hall – both of which dis­cussed the Val­ley’s key is­sues: Poverty, air qual­ity, wa­ter, ed­u­ca­tion, pre-term birth, and a pre­vail­ing feel­ing of un­der-rep­re­sen­ta­tion at the state level.

The in­com­ing gov­er­nor made com­mit­ments on vir­tu­ally all of these things and more. He promised that his adopted bud­get, which he said was due in nine days, would com­mit sig­nif­i­cant money to ar­eas such as post­na­tal care, se­condary and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion, car­bon re­duc­tion, Alzheimer’s re­search and job cre­ation.

New­som ex­pressed reser­va­tion over the state’s high-speed rail pro­gram, say­ing the plan that he and oth­ers signed up for has long since mor­phed into some­thing else. He noted he was “as­sess­ing the stew­ard­ship of the High Speed Rail Au­thor­ity” as well as re­view­ing a re­cent au­dit of the project and meet­ing the leg­is­la­tors in order to give the pub­lic a clearer pic­ture of what is ac­tu­ally be­ing worked on.

He de­flected talk on the lack of Val­ley ap­pointees on key statewide boards, such as the Cal­i­for­nia State Univer­sity Board of Trust-

ees, say­ing he’d like to ap­point more lo­cal folks but his pre­de­ces­sor, Gov. Jerry Brown, has been mak­ing all of the ap­point­ments.

New­som said he was sur­prised to learn there was not a satel­lite gov­er­nor’s of­fice in Fresno and would ad­dress the need for such a hub in his bud­get, which ul­ti­mately must be ap­proved by the Leg­is­la­ture.

The gov­er­nor-elect caught some in the au­di­ence by sur­prise when he praised Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump for his re­cent visit to the state to sur­vey the dev­as­tat­ing ef­fects of re­cent wild­fires. He noted that his much of his dis­cus­sions with the pres­i­dent ac­tu­ally cen­tered on Val­ley is­sues – wa­ter, agri­cul­ture, among oth­ers.

He ap­plauded Trump for not play­ing po­lit­i­cal games when it came to fed­eral dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tions, but New­som said the state would con­tinue to op­pose the pres­i­dent when its core val­ues were at­tacked. He counted some 45 law­suits against the fed­eral gov­ern­ment the state was in­volved in, but he clar­i­fied that most of these were re­ac­tive.

New­som said sev­eral times he was look­ing for out­spo­ken lead­ers from the Val­ley to in­form his opin­ion. It would seem he’s al­ready picked one out, nam­ing Fresno City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Es­mer­alda So­ria as a mem­ber of the ad­vi­sory coun­cil to his tran­si­tion team. Pre­vi­ously, for­mer Fresno mayor Ash­ley Swearen­gin had been the Val­ley’s lone rep­re­sen­ta­tive on this ad­vi­sory coun­cil.

CRAIG KOHLRUSS ck­[email protected]­

Cal­i­for­nia Gov.-elect Gavin New­som stands amid a packed au­di­to­rium dur­ing a town hall meet­ing at the Team­sters Lo­cal 431 Joint Hall in Fresno on Fri­day.

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