Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom hedged on a campaign promise to appoint Valley members to the University of California and California State University boards.
Newsom paid Fresno his first visit since winning election last month. He appeared at three events during the day.
Newsom said he couldn’t make a Valley appointment, even if he wanted to, “and I do want to,” he noted, because there are no current openings.
“There are probably two dozen other groups that also feel like they are not represented — the Asian community, African-American community, and geographic parts of the state — the Inland Empire, the northern part of the state that feel underrepresentation. So the challenge for me is, when you get one appointment over a two-year period, you can’t solve for all of that,” he said.
Three UC Board of Regents terms are set to expire during Newsom’s term. The board has no Valley representatives since Fred Ruiz’s term expired in 2106. The CSU board will have more spots over the next four years (since the CSU terms are shorter). Currently, Hugo Morales (Fresno) and John Nilon (Kern County) are from the Valley.
“My goal is for over the course of time to solve for those things. Unfortunately, with one appointment, maybe in the first two years — I think by definition disappoint somebody in that process. I’m going to do my best to try and balance it,” Newsom continued.
During a campaign stop to the very same Teamsters building in central Fresno in June, Newsom promised to appoint Valley members. See video of his promise below.
Castro Lobbies for Valley
Fresno State President Joseph Castro was one of approximately 60 business, labor, and agricultural leaders who met with Newsom in a roundtable-style event. Castro asked Newsom to support growing CSU enrollment and on-campus infrastructure.
He also asked Newsom to appoint a Valley member to one of the two public university governing boards.
“I also asked him on the side to have more Valley folks on the CSU Board of Trustees and UC Regents,” Castro told GV Wire.
How did Newsom respond?
“Positively on all those things,” Castro said.
Newsom met with a broad range of Valley leaders in downtown Fresno at the Peerless Pump building for a noontime roundtable. Former Fresno mayor and current Central Valley Community Foundation CEO Ashley Swearengin arranged the meeting.
Swearengin also serves as an ambassador on Newsom’s transition team.
Newsom heard economic reports from the Valley and members of the Bay Area Council. He also heard updates on the high-speed rail.
Next, he met with agriculture leaders, followed by a semi-public town hall at the Teamsters 431 Hall.
There, an overflow crowd of more than 300 came to hear what Newsom. Even some of those who had returned RSVPs could not get in the building.
Newsom spent approximately 90 minutes sharing his thoughts on the state, as well as taking questions. Topics: healthcare, prison reform, the economy, and high-speed rail.
Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) helped arrange Newsom’s visit.
“The governor-elect has spent more time in the Central Valley than frankly any governor in recent history that I recall. It’s a great opportunity to see the diversity that we offer here,” Gray said.
His sentiments were echoed by a number of elected Valley leaders, from state legislators to local school board members.