Edmund G. Brown, Jr., known as Jerry, was born in San Francisco on April 7, 1938. He graduated from St. Ignatius High School in that city, studied at the University of Santa Clara and for the Catholic priesthood at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, a Jesuit seminary. He received his B.A. degree in Latin and Greek from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961, and graduated from Yale Law School in 1964.
In 1969 Brown was elected to the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees. In 1970, he was elected California Secretary of State. Four years later, he was elected Governor. He was reelected in 1978 by the largest vote margin in California’s history.
As governor, Brown presided over a state where 25% of the nation's new jobs were created. He established the first agricultural labor relations law in the country, started the California Conservation Corp (CCC), enacted into permanent law the California Coastal Protection Act, successfully pushed for the country's first building and appliance energy efficiency standards, halted nuclear power development and made California the leader in solar and alternative energy. He brought more women and minorities into high government positions than any other chief executive, including the first woman, African-American and Latino to the California Supreme Court. Brown also legalized the practice of Acupuncture and strongly supported the rights of chiropractors, osteopaths and lay midwives.
Finally, Brown restructured the California Arts Commission so that it was composed of practicing artists and increased funding by 1300%. As governor, Brown signed into law the removal of criminal penalties for sexual acts between consenting adults.
After his defeat by Pete Wilson in a 1982 U.S. Senate race, Brown spent six months in Japan and worked briefly with Mother Teresa in India. He practiced law in Los Angeles and in 1989 became chairman of the state Democratic Party. He resigned that position in 1991, expressing his disgust with the growing influence of money in politics, and sought the 1992 Democratic Presidential nomination. During that campaign he refused to take contributions larger than $100 and used an "800" number to raise funds.
Despite limited financial resources, Brown defeated Bill Clinton in Maine, Colorado, Vermont, Connecticut, Utah and Nevada during the 1992 Presidential primaries and was the only candidate other than Clinton to receive enough voter support to continue until the Democratic National Convention.
Brown began broadcast of his radio program, "We the People" with Jerry Brown on January 31, 1994. He continued conducting interviews with global players on such issues as the environment, philosophy and political issues on the air until October 28, 1997, the start of his campaign for Mayor of Oakland, California. Running on a platform of crime reduction, education, downtown revitalization (his "10k Plan") and a celebration of the arts, Brown won the mayoral primary in June of 1998 with close to a 2/3 vote, and was inaugurated in January 1999. He led the City in a unique inaugural gala, which celebrated the cultural diversity and richness of Oakland's neighborhoods. Brown was recently re-elected to serve a second term as Oakland's Mayor, a term which began in January 2003.
Photo Janet Orsi