Newsom touches on homelessness, ‘brain drain’ in Truckee speech |

Newsom touches on homelessness, ‘brain drain’ in Truckee speech

Kyle Magin/Sierra Sun

TRUCKEE ” On San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s tour of the state of the California to test the waters for a 2010 run for governor, he said one thing has remained the same: the concerns on the minds of Californians.

“The environment is a perennial issue, it brings this state together in remarkable ways,” Newsom said in front of a full house at the Truckee High School cafeteria Thursday night. “Health care is another issue that’s front and center.”

Newsom began the hour-and-a-half long event by laying out his platform, accomplishments as the mayor of San Francisco and plans for the future of California were he elected governor. What followed was a question and answer session with the public.

A Truckee woman asked Newsom what he could do for the homeless as she herself had lost her home and was living in an RV behind a church so her son could continue at his high school.

“If you ask me why it is I’m running for governor? It’s this issue of homelessness. You’ll never have a stronger advocate for the homeless than if I’m in Sacramento,” Newsom said. “This is an area where I’m going to be a big champion.”

He spoke at length about Project Homeless Connect, a San Francisco-based program which encourages volunteers ” doctors, dentists, masseuses and regular people ” to donate a day of service to the city’s homeless population.

Newsom also talked about other challenges facing the state, namely a brain-drain that has occurred during the last four years as Californians migrate out of the state for jobs.

“It goes to the dream that is California, that our best days are not behind us,” Newsom said. “We have to look at a number of issues; affordable housing, the cost of living ” we have to reconcile these gaps that exist in jobs and education as well, there is no easy solution.”

The trip has been almost as remarkable, Newsom said, for what he didn’t hear ” a question about gay marriage. The man who famously married gay and lesbian couples in the San Francisco City Hall said he hasn’t heard a word about the state overturning gay marriage with Proposition 8 in November.

“You’d think I would have heard about this, but the thing is, I haven’t had one question about it,” Newsom said. “Everybody is scared to death of losing homes, it’s such a different time than a year, even six months ago.”

Audience members said they came away with an overall positive view of the mayor.

“Well, he’s very articulate and very well spoken,” said Becky Mazzer of Truckee. “I think he does speak from the heart … I have a good feeling about him.”

Mazzer said she’d consider a vote for Newsom in 2010.

John Arsenault, also of Truckee, said he liked Newsom’s style.

“I like how he focused on getting things done and I liked some of the things he’s focused on,” Arsenault said. “I was impressed by what he’s done in San Francisco with the homeless coalition … It was what I wanted to hear from a politician.”

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