By Cheryl Brown, Shirley Krohn and Dr. Marty Lynch | California Black Media Partners
As senior citizens we want to commend Governor Gavin Newsom for making us a central part of his “California for all” agenda.
He recognizes California’s population is aging rapidly. According to the California Department of Finance, in just ten years, our state’s population will have nearly doubled with as many older adults as in 2010. This shift will be felt by all of us -- young and old alike, while impacting our economy, our families and our communities. His plan prepares us to meet the needs of this growing population.
From a senior citizen’s perspective, the attempt to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is particularly misguided and even dangerous. For the first time in California’s history, we have a governor who has prioritized the needs of our aging population. In June of 2019, Gov. Newsom signed Executive Order N-14-19, calling for the creation and development of the California Master Plan for Aging, providing a roadmap for coordinated, system-wide change that equitably uplifts older adults, people with disabilities, and their family caregivers. In this time of urgent need, the Master Plan is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to boldly advance solutions over the next 10 years.
Over the years, our aging population has suffered greatly from the lack of attention to their needs - whether it’s poverty, lack of access to affordable housing, lack of transportation alternatives, lack of access to affordable in-home care, food insecurity, or workforce shortages.
Negative stereotypes and fear of aging have historically pushed aging issues into the background of societal discourse. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified long-standing systemic problems that have been neglected for years. We know this to be true across the country, with other states facing similar challenges. California’s Master Plan has the potential to re-imagine aging, affecting how society thinks about, plans for, and responds with equity and inclusion to the needs of a diverse aging population that has often been forgotten. Many said it would be impossible to accomplish in California, but today there is hope for meaningful reform, because of Gov. Newsom.
The Scan Foundation documented that he put his money where his mouth is, including in this year’s budget the funding needed for many of the programs targeting aging adults.
During these difficult times, the Master Plan provides a critical template for a better life for all Californians, to age with dignity and justice. As Gov. Newsom has noted, California’s demographics are shifting, and older adults are the fastest-growing population group. All of us, young and old alike, share a stake in planning for our future. The Master Plan enables older Californians to age well at home. With innovative solutions to address isolation and loneliness, it enriches all of our communities.
Recalling Governor Newsom is grounded in misguided political animosity. Our state needs real, bold leadership. This is no time to jeopardize progress for older Californians by recalling the
only Governor who has recognized this issue and taken action. Older Californians should reject this recall. It distracts us from the necessary work at-hand.
About the Authors
Cheryl Brown is a former California Assemblymember (2012-2016) and Chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee. She lives in San Bernardino.
Shirley Krohn is an Advocate for older Californians. She lives in Walnut Creek.
Dr. Marty Lynch is a retired community health center director and aging advocate. He lives in Berkeley.