Story and photos by Emily Anderson
SAN DIEGO -- The former governor hailed as Governor Moonbeam in the 1970s – for his then forward-thinking ideas – returned to San Diego, visiting Old Town State Historic Park for his final pre-election visit.
Supporters crowded like sardines close to the small stage at Café Coyote to hear Democratic candidate for governor speak. State Controller John Chiang spoke, and then State Senator Chris Kehoe introduced Jerry Brown at 9 a.m. He was given a loud applause while approaching the microphone.
People lined up along the stairs and the second-story balcony, squishing together to hear the soft-voiced Brown give his short speech. A truck hummed across the street, making it harder to hear Brown, but the audience paid attention completely.
Brown supports job creation, education and protecting the environment. Brown was known by some as Moonbeam when he served two terms as governor from 1975-1983 for his environmental, innovative ideas which weren't commonplace. Brown did support carpool lanes, computers in schools, and satellite communications early on before it was considered cool to be an environmentalist.
Many supporters wore Jerry Brown or Barack Obama T-shirts, holding Jerry Brown for Governor signs in the air, while Brown thanked people who made the rally possible.
Brown said California had an aerospace industry that led the world at one time, that people live in California to obtain opportunities, and that even East Coast-born Meg Whitman came to California for opportunities. The crowd cheered at this statement.
Brown said California is the land of imagination and creativity, but it faces problems – i.e. a roughly $15 billion deficit.
At this remark, the crowd cheered and clapped, chanting, “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”
He said more people come to California than leave California, but people are losing their homes, so he wants to create jobs. He wants to invest in environmental jobs, citing legislative bill AB 32, and that the bill will “nurture new industries, engines and machines…” He wants to create 500,000 jobs in the future, stress creativity and innovation, invest in schools, and “get California back on the road.”
Brown said it was a good sign that the sun was out today in the midst of the miasma of confusion, referring to the overall chaos the state is in.
During his short speech, an older man driving a black truck stopped in the street and yelled out his window a few times that Brown is a liar. The television camera crews rushed to his vehicle to capture the unsuspected moment.
“Is that friend or foe?” Brown asked his audience, remaining straight-faced. The audience laughed and some members answered, “Foe!”
Brown said that he wants Republicans and Democrats to work together. While it was difficult to hear all of his speech, a man holding a large Susan Davis for Congress sign said that he is 65-years-old and politicians all say the same things. This man was a Brown fan; he just meant that people who couldn’t hear weren’t missing anything new.
At the end of his speech, Brown said: “We’re all Californians together. (I want) inclusion, transparency and fairness,” while the audience chanted “Jerry! Jerry!Jerry!”
While Jerry seamlessly slid through the gate of people after his speech, news crews gathered around. Kamala Harris, who is running for his current position of attorney general, quietly stood next to him for a moment on camera. (Harris stood in the back of the crowd quietly while Brown spoke.)
Brown offered money to the quiet employee at Cafe Coyote who stood nearby at her work station, making fresh tortillas on the patio. She declined it, smiling, and gave him a tortilla, which he bit into while facing the cameras.
County Board of Supervisors candidate Stephen Whitburn, who’s the only Democrat running against Republican incumbent Ron Roberts, attended the Brown event. He was dressed in a navy blue suit, shaking hands with fans of his own.
Kelly Barnes, perhaps one of Brown’s most enthusiastic supporters and registered Green party member, held a Jerry Brown for Governor sign and smiled hugely and thanked him as he got in the backseat of a black Chevrolet sedan, although Brown couldn’t hear her.
“He’s our moonbeam,” Barnes said. “Seriously, he knows how to share. I first saw him back (on the East Coast) when he spoke to (an African American) church. I thought, ‘Wow, that’s commitment.’ (It’s about) politics and the pulpit, caring about the earth, mano y mano. Fight for our right to share.
“I’m proud to be here to support Brown. Hell ya. Every man for himself!”
While supporters dissipated, a handful of calm protestors held signs after Brown left the café. One woman, Delores Chavez, played snippets of prior radio or TV clips of Brown’s quotes on a small amplifier. Chavez said she supports all unions.
She asked: “Why doesn’t Brown or Boxer support Mendocino County? Immigrants need help that live in the central valley – (they care) about more issues with Smelt than with human beings.”
She said there is a 42 percent unemployment rate in that county, and while she said Brown is a funny guy, there used to be a purpose for Californian unions in the 1960s, but that nowadays, unions act for themselves.
Shirley Benton, who stood next to Chaves, said that Brown has already served two terms and that "Californians don’t need him again." She said he made promises to increase jobs, decrease crime rates, and that Brown, during mainstream news shows, said he never had a real political plan in place.
“We need somebody that knows how to create jobs,” Benton said. “All regulations and taxes, other states give away. We’re broke. Meg can be Sacramento’s worst nightmare.”
Chavez, Benton and two other woman held signs with such phrases as: Jerry Brown Lies; Jerry Brown Union Clown; Jerry You Lie!
One meandering Brown supporter politely told the women they were silly. The event was a mingling of opinions, opinions that were successfully, and calmly intertwined, expect for the truck driver who shouted at Brown during his speech.