Monday, October 22, 2007

Gavin Newsom's Report Card

As Written by Chronicle's Cecilia M. Vega:

From behind the desk in his stately City Hall office, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom looks back on his first term and says the "chattering class" - his term for political insiders - got it all wrong when they thought they had him figured out.

When he was elected in 2003, Newsom was the young, rich entrepreneur who made his political name with a plan to slash welfare checks to the homeless. He was expected to serve the downtown businesses that helped elect him and not disturb the patronage politics of his predecessor and political benefactor, Mayor Willie Brown.
"There was a characterization that was advanced during the campaign that was quite difficult for me, being painted as ... disconnected from the challenges of reality, real people."
Four years later, San Francisco's youngest mayor in a century still contends with the Pacific Heights liberal label, thanks to his society wedding to prosecutor-turned-TV commentator Kimberly Guilfoyle, his posing for fashion magazine photo spreads with her at the Getty mansion before their 2005 divorce, and the playboy-ish pursuits that have followed.

But Newsom has surprised observers by being far more politically progressive than many anticipated, displaying an eagerness to clear the air of cronyism and influence-buying that long hung over the mayor's office and showing a willingness to put his political future in jeopardy by taking a stance on same-sex marriage that, while popular in San Francisco, was eschewed by many, including key Democrats on the national scene.

Newsom is a politician who seems to revel in the world of policy, a technocrat who praises managerial "best practices," who rattles off statistics in almost robotic manner, who seems to announce a new program or initiative every week - from the big, like universal health care, to the small, like visits to schools. But at times his follow-through has fallen flat.

Complete Article: Newsom Reflects On 4-Years of Ups & Downs As Election Approaches

On Deck: Cecilia Covers the Other Mayoral Candidates

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