On Monday, Oct. 5, former President Bill Clinton formally endorsed Gavin Newsom, San Francisco’s young and charismatic mayor, for his gubernatorial bid. Newsom first gained national attention when he realized that his constituents were being denied basic rights, like the freedom to marry. In order to correct this rather egregious assault on justice, in February of 2004, then newly-elected Mayor Newsom began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco. Since 2004, Mayor Newsom has continued the fight for full equality and the same rights and benefits extended to all. Newsom repeatedly said, “Denying certain people the right to marry is wrong and inconsistent with the values this country holds dear.” During the last election cycle, Mayor Newsom actively campaigned against Prop. 8, visiting college campuses to rally young people and raise money for the fight for equality.
As for education, UC students know how much the budget crisis is affecting California schools. California experiences some of the lowest levels of educational achievement in the country — 97 California school districts failed to meet basic federal standards. Working largely with existing resources, Mayor Newsom has applied a little common sense and a lot of innovation to help turn San Francisco public schools into a statewide model for educational achievement. Under Newsom’s leadership, the city initiated San Francisco Promise, a program to create a college-going culture in San Francisco schools and guarantees the resources to go to college for every public school student who qualifies for the program.
In addition to education and marriage equality, Newsom is committed to restoring California’s economy. Newsom has put politics aside to balance San Francisco’s $6 billion-plus budget every year for the past five years. Due to sound fiscal policies, the city’s bond rating has increased, while the state’s has fallen.
It’s easy to see why President Clinton would endorse Mayor Newsom in his gubernatorial bid. What is rather remarkable, however, is the fact that Mayor Newsom won this key endorsement at such an early stage in his campaign — it is virtually unheard of that a president would endorse a candidate before the party primary. Perhaps it is because Clinton sees a bit of himself in Newsom. Both men were young go-getters, Clinton being only 32 when he was elected governor of Arkansas. Newsom was elected mayor when he was a young man, not much older than Clinton when he was first elected governor.
Given Mayor Newsom’s impressive track record and his dedicated service to the city of San Francisco, it is time for UCSB students to unite behind the man that will bring change to California. When President Barack Obama was elected to office, it was because the youth banded together and participated. Before the election last November, people would write off our generation as apathetic and uninvolved. Those same people were eating their words on Nov. 5. Now we have to live up to our reputation. We can sit back and watch our state flounder around us, or we can step up and back the candidate that will bring our state back from the brink.