Lt. Gov. Needs to Change or Dissolve: Gavin Newsom

Former San Francisco mayor says changes need to be made to make the position more useful.

View Comments ()
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Jeff Minton for The New York Times - Used With Permission
    Former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is flexing his power and saying his position needs a drastic change.

    Before he ever decided to run for the role of California's lieutenant governor, Gavin Newsom had no idea what the job entailed.

    "What does the lieutenant governor do?" he famously asked during a 2009 interview. "For the life of me, I don't know."

    Now just over a year after the job, the former San Francisco mayor has an idea and he says it is either time to change the job or "dissolve" it.

    In an expansive interview with The San Francisco Chronicle's editorial board, Newsom says the job description, along with limited funds, greatly inhibits the effectiveness of the position.

    Newsom suggested that both the governor and the lieutenant governor position should be forced to run on a single ticket, in part to eliminate a history of tension between the two offices.

    "It’s self evident we’ve had a little of that (friction) in the last year," Newsom said about his own relationship with Gov. Jerry Brown. "We actually work much better than is asserted, but there’s no direct empowerment. I really feel it’s time to dissolve the current relationship of governor and lieutenant governor by running as a ticket."

    Newsom currently is acting as California's governor for the next five days, while Mr. Brown is in Washington D.C.

    Keeping the governor's seat warm while he or she is out of town is actually one of the more meaningful powers given to the lieutenant governor.

    In addition the position gets to chair California's Economic Development Committee and gets to sit on the California State University and UC boards of regents.

    Newsom said the office is also so poorly funded that he couldn't afford an office in Sacramento. Instead he is working out of a small space in San Francisco, where he pays $500 a month.

    The San Francisco Chronicle published an editorial Friday in response to the candid conversation it had with Newsom titled "Make the lieutenant governor position a real job."

    Visit the newspaper's website to read the full piece, or excerpts from the interview.