As his campaign’s theme song “I Won’t Back Down,” by Tom Petty, blasted in the background, gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides strode onstage yesterday at Santa Barbara’s Oak Park to ask for voters’ support in his showdown with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
With over 80 people in attendance, Angelides and a number of speakers criticized Schwarzenegger’s actions since taking office, noting his policies concerning education, the environment and last year’s special election.
“I believe in my heart that hardworking middle class people in this state have had enough,” Angelides said. “I believe in my heart that people who treasure education, environmentalists, people who want to support fire fighters, all have had enough.”
Angelides said the governor has failed to live up to his promises to protect education by cutting financial aid and raising tuition. He said Schwarzenegger also broke his promise and accepted over $100 million in special interest money from pharmaceutical and oil companies.
Angelides said he thinks that Americans are ready for a change in the current political scene.
“On November 7, starting on the East Coast and ending here on the Pacific Coast there is going to be a Democratic tidal wave,” Angelides said. “We’re going to hear that we’ve taken the Senate and the House.”
Elaine Wheeler, a teacher at Monroe Elementary School in Santa Barbara, spoke at the event on behalf of the Tri-County Teachers, which has pledged support for Angelides. Wheeler said she does not endorse Schwarzenegger because he repeatedly broke his campaign promise to support Californian schools and education.
“He said he’d be the education governor, and then he went back on his word,” Wheeler said. “He spent years bashing teachers. He even tried to cut vital outreach programs for disadvantaged students trying to get to college.”
Thirty-fifth District assembly member Pedro Nava urged the crowd to take the upcoming election seriously, and said Angelides is a governor that the people of California can trust. Nava, who led the crowd chanting, “Vote Phil Angelides,” said he thinks the Democratic candidate is more concerned about protecting the environment than a Republican.
“[Schwarzenegger] would like for you to think that he cares about the environment,” Nava said. “I’m here to tell you that he doesn’t, not like Angelides will.”
Congresswoman Lois Capps also spoke and said she has known Angelides for a long time. She said he has the experience to effectively lead the state, noting that he was the man who pulled California out of the energy crisis.
“We are in good shape now as a state, not because of who’s sitting in the governor’s seat, but because of [Angelides],” Capps said.
Capps said Angelides will listen to the people and is ready to conquer California’s upcoming challenges.
“This is a person who is the future,” Capps said.
Marty Geofmann, a third-year sociology major and Campus Democrats member, said he thinks Angelides is looking out for students’ best interests.
“I hope Phil Angelides will be the answer,” Geofmann said. “I’ve been told Schwarzenegger raised our tuition $5,000 and that doesn’t sound very good to me.”
Jennifer Doyle, a first-year business economics major and member of the College Republicans, said complaints over rising tuition costs are unwarranted because increases in general income and inflation inevitably make education more expensive.
“This is all kind of a joke, but he’s making a good try,” Doyle said.