The 40th governor of California, Gavin Newsom, was sworn in, Jan. 7.
His ascension to the top post in the nation’s most populated state raises the curtain on a new administration that is marked by the finale of a father and son gubernatorial reign that began in 1959.
Pat Brown served as the 32nd governor till 1967. His son, Jerry, held the office twice, from 1975 to 1983 and then from 2010 to the end of 2018.
The pair held the gubernatorial post for 24 years — 40% over the past six decades.
Newsom pledged that California would act as a barrier to policies being pushed by Republicans in Washington, D.C., which he described as a threat to the state’s and the nation’s well being.
Newsom addressed thousands of people sitting in tents that had been set up after the state capitol was whipped by drenching rain and high wind.
“The country is watching us,” he said. “The world is waiting on us. The future depends on us. And we will seize this moment.”
In his 25-minute speech, he said that California would “offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House,” without mentioning the president.
Newsom pledged to start a “Marshall Plan” to combat the state’s housing and homelessness epidemic, to implement some sort of single-payer health care system and to resolve issues of economic and educational inequality.
He said these “serious challenges” had often been “deferred for too long.”
“Even with a booming economy, there is a disquieting sense that things are not as predictable as they once were,” he said. “We must now run faster just to stay in place. Stagnant wages. Costs that keep rising — rent, utilities, visiting the doctor — the basics are increasingly out of reach. We face a gulf between the rich and everyone else — and it’s not just inequality of wealth, it’s inequality of opportunity. These aren’t merely policy problems. They are moral imperatives. So long as they persist, we are all diminished.”
Newsom, 51, had been the state’s lieutenant governor, largely a ceremonial position, for eight years under Jerry Brown.
Before that, he served as mayor of San Francisco, where he positioned himself, for the most part, on the Liberal side of the spectrum. He was an early promoter of same-sex marriage and the legalization of recreational marijuana.
When the new governor lauded Jerry Brown, the crowd rose in a standing ovation.
The departing governor inherited a $28 billion deficit and left Gov. Newsom a $14 billion surplus. He also created an $18 billion so-called rainy day fund to help the state get through what is widely viewed as an inevitable coming recession.
The current estimate for California’s population in 2018 was 39.78 million.
At the last official United States census carried out in 2010, the population of California was declared at 37,253,956, which makes the state the most populous by a wide margin over second place Texas (28 million).