Vote Gavin Newsom for California Lt. Governor

Mandi Gosling

Battling for your vote in November is San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom who is running for lieutenant governor of California.

Gavin Newsom courtesy of MCT

Here’s what I like about Gavin Newsom – he doesn’t really do anything half-assed. He likes to tackle issues most politicians do everything they can to avoid.   His solutions may be extreme, but they’re working. He deserves a shot in the big leagues.

Universal health care, social assistance, same sex marriage – these are all divisive issues that Newsom, as San Francisco mayor, has taken on since he was elected in 2003.

Recognizing the failure of state and federal lawmakers to confront these issues, Newsom stood up to fight for the needs of San Franciscans.  In a political climate of extreme partisanship, where progress is held hostage by elected leaders whose only concern is getting re-elected, his ability to make decisions and get things done is my new favorite quality in a politician.

I like his vision and I admire his hootspa.

In April 2007, Newsom started “Healthy San Francisco,” a universal health care program available to all residents of San Francisco who are uninsured. The program provides primary care emphasizing preventative medicine, as well as emergency and specialty care, mental health and substance abuse services.

In 2008, the program was named one of the top 10 policies of the year by the Drum Major Institute, a non-partisan, non-profit public policy think tank.

Newsom spearheaded the city’s Care Not Cash program which aims to reduce the city’s homeless population by offering them permanent housing as a portion of the cash assistance they receive.  The Mayor’s 2009 Accountability Matrix reports the number of homeless people receiving welfare dropped 82 percent from 2004 to 2009.

Not only has the program gotten people off the streets, but $14 million was invested into permanent housing instead of handed out in the form of cash assistance.

Helping to combat homelessness has been a priority for Newsom who also started Project Homeless Connect, which since 2004 has paired more than 30,000 homeless people with community volunteers who provide dental and eye care, legal advice, employment counseling, wheelchair repair, and other services they need to help get them off the streets.

Project Homeless Connect is recognized as a national best practice model by the president’s U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  It has been recreated in nearly 200 cities and counties in 26 states, as well as in Canada and Australia.

Perhaps what Newsom is most famous for is his support of gay rights.  After five weeks in the mayor’s office, he boldly authorized the issuing of marriage licenses to same sex couples.  He demonstrated he is not afraid to stand up to the establishment and advocate for equal rights.

Newsom is well equipped for the job as lieutenant governor where among his major responsibilities would be to chair the Commission for Economic Development and serve as a member of the California State Lands Commission.

He has demonstrated his commitment to the clean technology business sector providing payroll tax exemptions to green tech companies since 2006.  Newsom has drawn more than 200 clean technology companies to San Francisco by aggressively marketing the city as a friend to the environment.

In 2009, he announced plans to turn the Hunter’s Point Shipyard into a United Nations Global Compact Center, a business district for companies focused on research and development of sustainable environmental solutions and green technology.

To be sure, Newsom is not perfect. In February 2007, he made headlines not for his politics, but for an affair with his campaign manager’s wife, Ruby Rippey-Tourk, who was also Newsom’s appointment secretary.  Following the scandal, he sought treatment for alcohol abuse while still holding down his mayoral duties.

Despite his shortcomings, he has proven himself to be an effective and appreciated municipal leader. Only nine months after the sex scandal, he was re-elected taking more than 73 percent of the vote.

If the people of San Francisco are that happy with him as mayor, it seems a no-brainer to me that he deserves a shot to try his hand state-wide as lieutenant governor.