Sometimes, elections don’t have consequences.
Last November, then-candidate Gavin Newsom lost six of the eight counties that make up the backbone of the San Joaquín Valley – 47 percent of the vote to 53 percent for Republican challenger John H. Cox. However, the Democrat from San Francisco often visited the Valley and vowed to fight for their issues of clean drinking water, jobs and improved air quality.
A little more than a month after being sworn in as governor, Newsom has demonstrated that commitment to a region where Latinos represent about half the population by a) taking his cabinet last month to the tiny community of Monterey Park Tract near Modesto for them to see the impact that unsafe drinking water has on an estimated 360,000 Californians; and b) showing up last week at Riverview Elementary School near Parlier to sign legislation that provides funding for emergency drinking water projects.
It should be noted that AB 72 and AB 73 were the first bills ever signed by the new governor.
By his actions, Newsom has proven that he is more than an image of the smooth-talking politician who sweet talks for votes and then forgets the voters once the ballots have been tallied.
During a telephone call with The Fresno Bee editorial board, Newsom touted his vision for the Valley.
“I want to break the meme of elected officials ignoring the Valley,” Newsom said. “There is a growing divide of coastal and inland. I truly want to be representative of all of the state.”
He pledged to create workforce and economic development plans for regions of the state. “The Inland Empire and San Joaquín Valley have unique strengths that differ from Los Ángeles and the Bay Area. California must harness its geographic economic diversity and plan accordingly.”
Newsom also vowed to help small business by cutting regulations and expanding access to capital. He also wants public higher education to help young people better prepare for jobs of the future, apprenticeships to generate 500,000 high-skilled workers, and, re-training of older workers whose jobs have been swallowed by automation.
Time – and politics – will determine if Newsom is able to fulfill his campaign promises.
What we do love is his approach to governance that includes the entire state, not just the more heavily populated Bay area and Los Ángeles whose residents often ignore the importance of the Valley.
“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,” he said.
He explained how he would 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.”
Bingo! Newsom took his cabinet to Monterey Park Tract to learn from residents who did not have clean drinking water.
He also fulfilled a promise to state Sen. Melissa Hurtado, D-Sanger, to visit her district.
So far, Newsom is showing he is not ignoring the Valley. Even when only Merced and San Joaquín counties voted for him.
Campaign promises have consequences.