Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor of California in the 2018 election, came to Fresno this week to chair a meeting of the State Lands Commission – and make a bit of history.
It was the first time the commission has ever held a meeting in Fresno, the fifth largest city in California. In fact, it was the commission’s first meeting anywhere other than the coast or Sacramento, a news release said.
The commission is responsible for the management and protection of natural and cultural resources, as well as public access rights, on a variety of public lands. Its offices are in Sacramento and Long Beach, and there’s a field office in Hercules.
So did the meeting take place in Fresno because an item on the agenda involved public access to the River West project next to the San Joaquin River in Fresno? Or because Newsom is a gubernatorial candidate?
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Neither, Newsom said at a news conference before the meeting. The main reason was because the Lands Commission had never met in Fresno before, he said.
It’s rather extraordinary that in 78 years, State Lands has never met in Fresno, so that’s a wrong we wanted to right.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
“It’s rather extraordinary that in 78 years, State Lands has never met in Fresno, so that’s a wrong we wanted to right,” he said.
The commission wanted to hear from the community about public access to the San Joaquin River, “but we were coming here regardless of whether this was on the agenda,” he said.
Newsom, a Democrat from San Francisco, seemed to reject a statement by a reporter that he doesn’t come to the San Joaquin Valley very often.
“I’ve been here dozens of times in the last few years,” Newsom said, listing a number of Valley locations. (A staff member said his last visit to Fresno was on Aug. 15 for a town hall meeting.)
“I want folks up here to understand that I get it, and I have no interest in being part of the problem, which is a Democrat that’s focused exclusively on the coast,” Newsom said. “That’s not who I am, that’s not who I will be as governor … This will not be the last time you see me.”