Stopping by Glendale College during the final week of his primary campaign Democrat Phil Angelides said, “I want to make my first act as governor to roll back community college fees.”
It was a comment that registered positively with the audience in Kreider Hall on May 30.
After winning the Democratic primary against State Contoller Steve Westly on Tuesday, Angelides, now state treasurer, will go on to face Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November’s general election.
The full-house event at Kreider began as a presentation by Political Science Professor Mona Fields, who spoke to the audience about voting procedures and the inner workings of the gubernatorial primary election before Angelides took to the podium.
The candidate said “Community college enrollment is down 300,000 students.”
This, he said, is “at the very time we need more people, young people, adults, working people to come here to get the skills they need to succeed so we can succeed.”
Angelides said he would also work toward rolling back state college and university fees “so it’s more affordable for people to go.”
Angelides beat the well-heeled Westly, by a 4.3 percent margin in party primary.
The polls at the time of the election showed Westly and Angelides to be in a dead-heat despite Westly having spent an estimated $35 million of his own money on his campaign.
Angelides’ strength lay in his endorsements from Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer as well as from many leading environmentalist organizations such as the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
Despite Angelides’ endorsements, at the time of the election, polls showed that Westly would have the best chance of defeating Schwarzenegger in the November general election.
Angelides promptly addressed this issue.
“I am called the Anti-Arnold,” said Angelides, “and if you look at my body you’ll see it is absolutely true.”
In his campus talk, Angelides said “I believe our governor did a great injustice last year. I just want to say to all people here the educators who devote their lives to training the next generation of Californians thank you. And when I’m governor I’m going to honor you, not attack you.”
Serving as the chairman of the California Democratic Party from 1991 to 1993, Angelides had his work cut out for him. California was a state that had voted for Republicans in six presidential races in a row.
The Democrats and Angelides proved successful as they helped Bill Clinton become the first Democrat in 28 years to carry California. During this time he also saw California become the first state to elect two female senators in the same election, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.
Angelides spoke of this triumphant time for the Democratic Party, illustrating parallels to today’s political climate.
“The Democrats were broke and broken.” he said. “But we stood up for our values, we stopped retreating. We quit being embarrassed about being progressives and Democrats.
“We said loudly and clearly that we were for economic fairness, investing in education, and standing up for working people. We weren’t confused about who we were.”
The Democratic hopeful ended with a call for immediate ideological transformation for the California he called “the wealthiest state in the richest nation in the history of the world.”
Angelides urged Californians to “build a movement of change and embrace the very notions and values that Bush and Schwarzenegger are attacking.”
He promised to “make California, once again, a place that the rest of the world looks to for inspiration, a place that, at its best, lifts up everyone who has been left out, blocked out or left behind.”