The Daily Californian Online

Mayor Gavin Newsom Holds Local Town Hall Meeting

By Zach E.J. Williams
Contributing Writer
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Category: News > City

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom spoke Tuesday at a town hall meeting in Oakland.

OAKLAND-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom answered local residents' questions on economic, environmental and educational issues at a town hall meeting Tuesday as part of his potential gubernatorial bid.

Newsom organized an exploratory committee last July as a precursor to his formal declaration of candidacy for governor.

In an interview with The Daily Californian Monday, Newsom said his campaign must gauge grassroots support through events such as town hall meetings before the formal campaign begins.

"We've had about a dozen town hall meetings throughout the state that we've been holding (as part of) our exploratory committee for governor," Newsom said. "It's a real opportunity for people to dialogue on where we are and where we're going."

Gubernatorial candidates have until March 2010 to file a formal declaration, but Newsom said he will decide whether to run within the next few months.

Several other prominent politicians may also run, including former Governor Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, eBay Founder Meg Whitman and former Dean of Haas School of Business Tom Campbell.

After a short statement starting off the meeting, Newsom opened the floor to questions from the audience of more than 200 about his position on several issues.

He said his record as mayor is proof of his commitment to universal health care and education, citing his efforts to provide preschool education and health care programs throughout San Francisco.

Newsom stayed on his campaign talking points until an audience member questioned his role as mayor in handling toxic waste in San Francisco.

UC Berkeley freshman and Cal Berkeley Democrats member Pegah Zardoost said the issue stood out in the meeting.

"It got a little heated," Zardoost said. "I think it's good to see any politician under fire this way."

Newsom said he will court young voters by emphasizing the correlation between education and green issues.

"The CSU and UC (systems) are so critical and that needs to be a big part of the economic equations for California-invest in human capital," Newsom said.

UC Berkeley sophomore Daniel Osborn said he expects many young people, such as fellow Cal Berkeley Democrats, to support Newsom.

"We do have some members that are already interning with Mayor Newsom's campaign," he said. "I think a lot of young people are going to be supporting."

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