Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

By David Siders
dsiders@sacbee.com

Jerry Brown, returning to the governor's office after 28 years, said in his inaugural address this morning that California's pioneering spirit will help the state overcome its awful financial condition.

"The people of California have not lost their pioneering spirit or their capacity to meet life's challenges," the 72-year-old former governor said.

Brown, last governor from 1975 to 1983, said he tried to imagine the difficulties his great grandfather August Schuckman faced when he left Germany for America, and eventually Missouri for Sacramento, traveling across the plains.

"It is not just my family, but every Californian is heir to some form of powerful tradition, some history of overcoming challenges much more daunting that the ones we face today," he said.

The Democrat was sworn in as California's 39th governor by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, his left hand on a Bible that belonged to First Lady Anne Gust Brown's grandfather and that they used in their wedding.

Memorial Auditorium was not quite filled to capacity. Of the 3,000 seats, Brown's office said 700 were distributed to the public via an online lottery.

Gust Brown introduced her husband, saying it is "kind of a coming back" and a "very emotional day."

While taking the oath, Brown said he took the obligation freely and without mental reservation, then turned to the audience and said, "Really, no mental reservation."

The crowd laughed.

Brown spoke only in generalities about his plan to address an estimated $28 billion budget deficit.

But he said, "It's a tough budget for tough times."

Brown said the budget will require "difficult decisions," and he said, "At this stage in my life, I have not come here to embrace delay or denial."

A choir from Oakland School for the Arts, one of two charter schools Brown started while mayor of Oakland, performed the National Anthem and Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." Students from Oakland Military Institute, the other school he started, also participated in the event.

Former Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gray Davis were among the dignitaries in attendance.

Only one other governor, Earl Warren, has previously been elected to three gubernatorial terms in California. Brown's father, Gov. Pat Brown, lost his bid for a third term to Ronald Reagan in 1966.

Brown, among the youngest governors in state history when he first was in office, became the oldest person to be elected governor. The oldest sitting governor in California history, Gov. Frank Merriam, was 73 when he left office in 1939. Brown will turn 73 in April.

Brown, who announced just two appointments during an unusually quiet transition, has said he will announce more appointments today. He was expected to go to his office after the inauguration.

Later in the day, he is expected to attend a picnic on the Capitol's north lawn and a private reception at the California State Railroad Museum.



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