Applause interrupted openly gay Speaker of the Assembly John A. Perez during his remarks before former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was officially sworn in as California's Lt. Governor on Monday. In 2004, "his bold leadership ushered in a sea change in attitude towards marriage equality," Perez said.
Marriage Equality Hero Gavin Newsom Sworn-In as California Lt. Governor
The ceremony had its formal moments in the grand chamber - including the official swearing-in officiated by Newsom's father, Judge William A. Newsom, with his wife Jennifer Siebel Newsom holding the Bible. But for the most part, the ceremony was casual, with Newsom, 43, waving at some in the audience and the gallery - a few hundred people, with all statewide elected officials there for support, including former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldenado, a Republican whom Newsom defeated last year. Gov. Jerry Brown was elsewhere dealing with his proposed budget aimed at erasing California's $26 billion deficit during the next 18 months. which he had introduced just hours earlier.
For those who followed Newsom's gubernatorial campaign and then his sudden withdrawal (remember the awkward interview with former openly gay CBS 5 reporter Hank Plante in Feb. 2010?) Watching Newsom (via webcast) deliver his off-the-cuff acceptance remarks was deja vu all over again - only this time he kept his jacket on. He repeatedly promised to be short, joking about his infamous long-windedness - but then he went on and on, ideas pouring out of him as he did in those town hall meetings. He was engaging, challenging, erudite, hopeful and at times promising more than his job might permit. And then, he'd catch himself: "I know my role as lieutenant governor is limited," Newsom said. "I understand the constitutional restrictions. I do. But I hope I can add some value in the debate and be a conduit. And hopefully I can encourage everyone around here to take some risks."
If Brown uses Newsom as President Obama uses Vice President Biden - as someone with whom to discuss strategies and solutions even as they might disagree over some issues, California may have a good working team. After the ceremony, Newsom told AP "that he has concerns about Brown's proposal to eliminate funding for enterprise zones and local redevelopment agencies, which he credited for helping to build up Mission Bay and Treasure Island in San Francisco. He said enterprise zones helped the city lure Virgin America airline.
"I honor his willingness to put it up but I also honor his willingness to keep an open mind," Newsom said.
In his official job, Newsom assumes the governorship when Brown leaves the state or in the event of his death. Newsom didn't mention marriage equality or Prop 8 - he didn't have to - his national fame is so attached to marriage equality some Democratic politicians were afraid to have their photo taken with him.
Rather, Newsom focused on the economy. He will head the Commission for Economic Development and sit on the University of California Board of Regents, as well as sit on other boards and commissions. But while he might joke about staying "relevant" in the job, he clearly looks forward to offering his ideas in those commissions and working with Brown and the legislature to rebuild the state.
"At a time of great challenge, we must transform our crises into opportunities, replace old arguments with bold solutions, and reject timidity and incrementalism for risk-taking and innovation," Newsom said.
With that kind of personal incentive, it is hard to imagine Newsom not finding a way to push mightily for new jobs and new environmental solutions - during his gubernatorial campaign, he became well-known for stressing the significance of gree jobs and innovations such as with nano-technology. Additionally, as mayor of San Francisco, he launched programs to bring universal healthcare to all uninsured residents and give all children a boost to getting a college education.
Before he left office, Newsom secured the led 2013 America's Cup, an internationally respected sporting event which is expected to generate roughly 8,000 jobs and $1.2 billion for the local and state economy.
"I come here with a lot of ideas," Newsom said, and a promise to ask better questions to find more innovative solutions.