As part of a series of discussions with California gubernatorial candidates, Mihaylo College’s lead office of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce hosted Gavin Newsom, California’s lieutenant governor and former San Francisco mayor, at Cal State Fullerton’s Irvine Campus on Aug. 30. Newsom discussed the economic policies he would pursue if elected to the state’s highest office next year.
For the past quarter century, Gavin Newsom has been a leader in the Golden State, first in entrepreneurship and then in state government.
After founding several wineries, restaurants and retail establishments in the San Francisco Bay Area, at age 30, Newsom was appointed the youngest member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in the city’s history. He served as mayor of San Francisco from 2003 to 2011 and was elected to the lieutenant governorship, the state’s second-highest office, in 2010. Today, the 50-year-old Democrat is running to succeed Jerry Brown as the next California governor.
“I have a strong entrepreneurial bias,” says Newsom, who believes that the state’s Democratic Party does not do enough to support the business community. “We are pro-job but also anti-business. It belies common sense.”
Newsom believes that inflexible regulations are a hindrance to California’s economic vitality. He stated that: “the lack of capacity of understanding of nuance, that every rule isn’t black and white, the world is constantly evolving and changing, that some of these rules need to be updated, sunshined, reconsidered,” are all integral to discussions about the future of the state.
Tackling the State’s Soaring Housing Costs
With high housing costs acting as a barrier to entry into the real estate and rental markets for many young Californians, Newsom believes housing affordability is a major challenge that the state’s leadership must confront.
“We have a housing crisis,” he says. “It’s holding back our economy because more and more of a discretionary household budget is going to pay landlords, into paying mortgages, and not invested.”
Newsom supports the construction of 3.5 million additional housing units to alleviate the shortage that is driving up prices. He believes that local governments will build housing if there are incentives for them to support residential construction, rather than commercial developments such as shopping malls.
Rethinking State Government
Recognizing the importance of empowering Californians to effect positive change in their communities, Newsom calls for a sea change in what he sees as a top-down approach in the state’s leadership.
Based on his 2013 book, Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government, he discussed his vision with attendees at the SBDC event.
“We need to develop participation in everything and that’s the premise of this book, government as a platform, not government as a machine,” he says. “In a democracy, the most important office is the office of citizenship. We need to activate citizenship again in a meaningful way. We’ve all been conditioned by Amazon and yet you still go to the DMV and you still fill out forms in triplicate. In the amount of time you wait in line you could have [bought] your new shoes. I mean is there any wonder why people turn away from government, and they don’t buy what we’re selling, Republican or Democratic?”
An integral part of Newsom’s vision is maintaining the commitment to a truly pluralistic society, which he argues extends beyond having a diverse population. “Diversity is fine, but there’s a lot of pluralistic societies, diverse societies, that don’t practice pluralism. The Middle East is a perfect example. Extraordinarily diverse, but there’s not active engagement with that diversity, pluralism. And it’s a point I want to make in a state that’s a majority – minority state. Pluralism is not a football to be thrown around – it’s precious. You’ve got to invest in it, you’ve got to take care of it. At the end of the day we’ve got to unite around our common humanity.”
By hosting speakers such as Newsom, the SBDC is connecting Orange County businesses with California’s future leaders.
About the SBDC
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Mihaylo College is committed to providing local small businesses in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties with resources to help their small businesses succeed. These initiatives include no-cost consulting, training programs and access to experienced business consultants in the community. Stop by the SBDC on Cal State Fullerton’s campus in SGMH 4157 to connect with their services.