It is hard for me to believe that Jerry Brown is 72 years old. And it’s even harder for me to believe that he is governor of California again.
I was thrilled with him as governor back in the 1970s and when I was an undergrad at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, I was president of LMU Students for Brown when he ran for re-election in 1978. Then, he was the youngest governor in California history. Now, he has been re-elected as the oldest governor in California history.
LMU Students for Brown was a small group of dedicated kids. We held a voter registration drive at LMU to make sure our fellow students registered and voted at school. We had several information sessions and gave out lots of “Brown” bumper stickers and pins. I remember a bunch of us going to Osco’s, a disco in West L.A., for a fundraiser with Gov. Brown and I will never forget the wild time we had at his victory party at the St. Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A. Those were hopeful days and I was beginning to learn a few things about activism.
He still believes deeply in the power of people to change and to create a more just society. He raised college scholarship funds in California, which enabled me to attend LMU. He opened up California’s beautiful coastline to all its citizens. He stood up for minorities in California, the United Farmworkers, African-Americans, women, and the GLBT community.
For sure, he had his quirky side. Though I must admit I loved it when he was dating Linda Ronstadt and hanging out with Jackson Browne, The Eagles, and other rock stars.
He is a public servant who has always sought to change and serve. When first elected governor, he refused to live in the Governor’s mansion, he drove himself around in a beat-up car. After a couple of runs at the presidency he took on an immense challenge as mayor of Oakland, California and more recently as Attorney General of California.
In this recent campaign for governor, he faced an opponent in Meg Whitman, former CEO of Ebay, who used $160 million of her personal money. Still, Jerry Brown won.
Jerry Brown inspired lots of us back in the day at LMU and I’m delighted to see him older and wiser but still energetic and eager to serve the people of California.