Although I don't have a photograph of me and then Governor Pete Wilson I probably would have kept it because I really liked him. I wasn't with hubby then and was dating a guy that was the director of planning and research for the state of California. Because of that I was invited to the governors Christmas party. At the bottom of this post is the invite that I framed. It was a fun night.
Pete Wilson was elected the Governor of California in 1990, defeating the former San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein, who would go on to be elected to Wilson's former U.S. Senate seat two years later. Wilson was sworn in as the Governor in early 1991.
Wilson's eight years as the Governor saw California go into a strong economic recovery. Inheriting the state's worst economy since the Great Depression, Wilson insisted on strict budget discipline and worked to rehabilitate the state's environment for investment and new job creation. His term saw market-based, unsubsidized health coverage made available for employees of small businesses and additional anti-fraud measures credited for reducing workers' compensation premiums by as much as 40 percent.
Wilson also enacted education reforms focused on creating curricular standards, reducing class sizes and replacing social promotion with early remedial education. Wilson also promoted additional programs for individualized testing of all students, teacher competency training, a lengthier instructional year, and programs focusing on a return to phonics and early mastery of early reading, writing and mathematical skills.
Wilson led efforts to enact tougher crime measures and signed into law the highly popular "Three Strikes," (25 years to life for repeat felons) and "One Strike," (25 years to life upon the first conviction of aggravated rape or child molestation.) Wilson also supported resuming the death penalty in California, after 25 years of a moratorium, and he signed the death warrant for the execution of Robert Alton Harris in April 1992. A total of five people were executed under his administration (the first two by the gas chamber, the latter three by lethal injection).
Wilson spoke at the funeral services for former First Lady Pat Nixon in 1993 and former President Richard M. Nixon in 1994 at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California. Two years later, Wilson became, to date, the most recent Governor to speak at a California gubernatorial funeral, that of former Governor Pat Brown.
In Wilson's 1994 successful campaign for re-election against Kathleen Brown, his two signature issues were his opposition to the billions spent by the State funding services for illegal immigrants and the race based quota components of Affirmative Action. Support for the overwhelmingly popular Prop 187 helped give him a landslide win.
For most of his time as the Governor, Wilson reduced per-capita infrastructure spending for California, much as he had done as the Mayor of San Diego. Many construction projects - most notably highway expansion/improvement projects - were severely hindered or delayed, while other maintenance and construction projects were abandoned completely.
While his decision to merge the California State Police into the California Highway Patrol (CHP) was applauded by some as a better way to allocate taxpayer's money, the Highway Patrol was severely limited in its law enforcement capacity by a minimal budget, which would not be restored until Wilson's successor Gray Davis took office in 1999. Wilson remains a champion for tough-on-crime laws supported by state-wide law enforcement.
Wilson left California with a $16 billion budget surplus.
Term limit laws passed by voters in Proposition 140, and championed by Wilson in 1990, prohibited Wilson from running for reelection to a third term.
In October 1999, Pete Wilson was given the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution. Pete Wilson was recognized for his 40 years of public service to the state and the country.