By: Isabel Acevedo
On March 19, 2021, almost two million signatures were turned in aiming to recall the 40th Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. If the recall process continues, Californians will then decide in a matter of months whether or not to recall the current governor. Currently, as the signatures are waiting to be verified, many people are taking a look at his time as governor and how he dealt with the nation-wide COVID-19 pandemic, which like several other government officials, he and his office had little preparation for.
Newson was elected governor of California in January 2019 with 62 percent of the vote. He ran on a platform that aimed at expanding and standing up for California’s values. One of the ways he would do this was through fixing the affordability crisis in the state. This goal was aimed to help families that could no longer afford the Californian dream. As a Democrat, he also had similar pledges to that of his party’s pledges. He aimed to jumpstart the marriage-equality movement which aimed to normalize and protect same-sex marriages. Newsom also had a plan to pass universal healthcare as well as push gun-safety and criminal justice reforms. He pledged to make California a noteworthy model of inclusive and progressive government for the rest of the nation to see.
The year 2020, however, proved to be an especially challenging obstacle for Newsom’s plans as governor. After just one year in office, Governor Newsom faced a record wildfire season, a deadly pandemic, and an economic decline as a result of businesses shutting down due to a nation-wide mandated quarantine. In fact, it was his handling of the pandemic that has made this recent recall attempt gain far more traction that its predecessors.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Governor Newsom issued a stay-at-home order and began shutting down public places such as beaches, schools, and small businesses. Due to this, many people thought he was being too restrictive and causing small businesses to struggle, therefore declining local economies. Most voters hated his restrictive tactics; they hated even more when he opted out of his own stay-at-home order to attend a birthday dinner of a long-time friend which was at a restaurant that hosted many people outside of his household. This hypocrisy angered several people who called out Newsom for failing to lead by example. He has since apologized, but the damage was already done. His popularity as governor was decreasing.
Despite his short-comings, Governor Newsom is determined to continue his duties as governor, one of which is ensuring that Californians receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The stay-at-home order is still in effect, as it is still crucial to quarantine and stay safe while vaccinations are being distributed. He tweeted by saying he refuses to be distracted by the recall against him, but he is determined to fight it.
Although Gavin Newsom’s term as governor is not one filled with perfect choices and zero mistakes, he was faced with a challenging situation that was new for everyone. He had to make a choice that could sacrifice a lot of American lives. Opening small businesses could lead to more cases, which meant they had to close even if it meant a blow to the economy. He supported California hospitals as much as he could and updated California residents on COVID-19 updates and protocols as much as he could. Although he did not take the pandemic as seriously as I would have liked in the beginning, his stay-at-home order did help the case numbers stabilize in counties that followed the order. Given the sudden emergence of the pandemic and its unfamiliarity, it could be argued that Governor Newsom merely tried his best in a year that left every Californian questioning when their new normal was going to end. If the vote passes, it will be up to California residents to decide whether or not Gavin Newsom’s best was enough.