The word of the night among the attendees of Gavin Newsom’s Friday night lecture at the Veterans Memorial Building was “curiosity.”
Area residents Art and Judy Stevens, for instance, said their main reason for coming to the event was to pursue their budding interest in Newsom. “He’s a new face, and we’re curious to hear how he thinks California can generate more revenue. Like Obama, he seems progressive, and we’re excited to hear him speak.” Tawny Crail said she was similarly inquisitive and expressed as much when she said that she was “curious about Newsom and his potential run for governor. I’m also curious,” she went on, “about the changes he brought about in San Francisco as mayor. It’ll be interesting to hear him speak live, as I’ve only heard sound bites, so I don’t have any expectations.”
After receiving a standing ovation from the crowd when he entered the room, Newsom began his town hall-style speech by thanking the political notables who were in attendance, including Mayor Marty Blum, Supervisor Janet Wolf, and former State Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson. Newsom’s talk - and his platform for the 2010 California Governor race - centered on three specific issues: healthcare, education, and energy.
A brief summary of Newsom’s stance on each topic follows:
According the governor hopeful, Californians need to concentrate on “investing in health, not treating sickness.” The first step in accomplishing this ideal, Newsom said, is to provide universal health insurance on the way toward establishing a feasible and workable universal health care system. Newsom pointed to San Francisco’s success in this area by citing the more than 30,000 individuals in the universal health care program Healthy San Francisco. If San Francisco can do it - that is, move toward a collective system - Newsom argued, all of the other counties of California can do it too.
Shifting gears, Newsom next spoke on the issue of public education. “Human capital is the most precious resource California has,” Newsom said, and emphasized that preparing California’s future workforce is the most important development strategy of all. Newsom went on to underscore the idea that, in order for California to pick itself up out of its economic slump, the state needs to stop simply talking about the issue of public schooling and realize that “education is the fundamental key in harvesting talent.” This mindset, Newsom said, will allow California’s workforce to become more competitive and desirable in the world market.
Newsom wrapped up his three-pronged discussion by addressing the need for further development and implementation of renewable energy. As before, he drew attention to San Francisco’s accomplishments in the area under discussion by speaking about the recent installment of wave and tide energy “harvesters” and citing the city’s overall reduction of carbon emissions. According to Newsom, the green technology that is attempting to move California toward energy independence “is real - it’s not science fiction.”
In his closing statements, the San Francisco mayor, for the first time in his talk, explicitly stated his desire to assume the governorship of California and requested the audience’s support by stating, “I need your help-I don’t just need your money, I need your sense of spirit, your ideas, and your time.” On his way to creating a new social network of supporters, Newsom asserted, he is establishing online contact groups via Facebook and Twitter.
The crowd seemed upbeat and jovial as it filed out of the Veterans Memorial Building, and Crail, who was interviewed pre-talk, expressed that she was, “very, very impressed” with Newsom’s speech. She went on to say, “If he can explain his accomplishments in health care that well, I’m looking forward to see what else he can do.” Glenn Jordan and Bill Cornfield echoed the positive sentiments by describing Newsom as “very knowledgeable” and that California “needs someone like that. He has his finger on all the issues. He’s such a personable guy, you can’t help but like him.”