Villaraigosa Visits Fresno to talk Jobs and the High-Speed Rail
Last week, Antonio Villaraigosa, former state Assembly speaker and Los Angeles mayor, was in Fresno and the Valley working hard now as a Democratic candidate for governor in next year’s elections. Villaraigosa’s visit to Fresno was shoehorned between stops in Bakersfield and San Francisco. He began his day at a breakfast meeting of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce and then he got a tour of the high-speed rail construction sites at the San Joaquin River and at the south end of Fresno, before meeting with law enforcement representatives in the afternoon. But Villaraigosa, who was mayor of Los Angeles from 2005 to 2013, is just one of a bumper crop of Democrats and Republicans hoping to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown. In an interview with The Sacramento Bee, Villaraigosa stated:
Over time I came to really understand that if we are going to grow our economy in a way where we are growing together, if we are going to address the fact that we’re leaving too many people behind, we’re going to have to invest in the Central Valley. Why is there no Valley representation on the (University of California) Board of Regents? Only one UC campus? … The Valley needs diverse representation on the Board of Regents, on the (California State University) trustees, on the state Community College board, on the state Transportation Commission.
Among the other Democrats: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Treasurer John Chiang and former state schools superintendent Delaine Eastin. GOP candidates include state Assemblyman Travis Allen and San Diego businessman John Cox. For Villaraigosa, the Valley is an opportunity to make inroads in a region that often votes Republican and overcome local skepticism over candidates from Fresno and the Valley, which is a part of the state that is often viewed as overlooked. Villaraigosa also restated his backing of the state’s controversial high-speed rail project, an ambitious $64 billion plan to link San Francisco and Los Angeles with electric trains traveling at up to 220 mph. It is certainly looking like the Central Valley will be getting more attention as the governor’s race heats up.