Over 50 supporters gathered at Goleta Beach yesterday as Democratic gubernatorial candidate and current State Treasurer Phil Angelides commenced his two-week campaign tour for the June 6 primary election.

The crowd met at 1:30 p.m. for a press conference with Angelides during which he addressed issues relevant to Santa Barbara locals, including the rising costs of higher education, the state’s infrastructure and the impact of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s term in office.

Angelides is currently running against State Controller Steve Westly in the Democratic primary. It has been a relatively close race, with frequent shifts in poll results.

Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Susan Rose and 1st District Supervisor Salud Carbajal introduced Angelides at the press conference, highlighting his pro-environment stance.

“Phil has the backbone to stand up to oil companies to protect our public interest of a clean coast,” Carbajal said.

Rose said Angelides, currently California’s state treasurer, is backed by a number of environmental groups because one of his main goals is to protect the California coastline.

Members of the California Coastal Protection Network, Environment California, the Sierra Club, the UCSB Campus Democrats and local firefighters were in the crowd. During the press conference, one woman in the crowd wrote a $100 donation check while onlookers cheered.

According to his website, Angelides’s campaign promises include reducing California’s gasoline and diesel usage by 25 percent over the next 10 years, purchasing and protecting undeveloped portions of the coastline and vying for a permanent ban of all offshore drilling.

“There’s so much at stake,” He said. “I believe the world and the nation are looking to California for leadership. The values which have made us the most successful civilization in the world are under attack.”

During his speech, Angelides spoke out against Governor Schwarzenegger’s education policies, and said he has always been opposed to the governor’s decisions.

“Our governor doesn’t share [our] values: He has cut education funding and has turned kids away from college,” Angelides said.

Angelides discussed his program, College Opportunity for All, which he said addresses the issues facing California’s educational system. He said the program is designed to reduce higher education fees, admit an additional 20,000 students to state colleges, double the number of high school counselors in the state and raise the income cutoffs for Cal Grant financial aid.

“I [always] thought it was wrong to turn kids away from college; I thought it was wrong to cut education funding,” Angelides said.

Angelides also addressed the emergence of what he called a smear campaign from his rival candidate, Westly. He said Westly promised he would not run negative campaign ads on TV unless his opponent attacked him first. But almost a month later, Angelides said, the Sacramento Bee ran a story with the headline “Westly First to Air Negative TV Ad.”