Hundreds came out to the Exhibit Hall in downtown Fresno to thank Governor Schwarzenegger for supporting valley causes. But his appearance also signaled a political change in the air.
Governor Schwarzenegger was given a parting gift. The jacket read "San Joaquin valley warrior." No governor has spent so much time in the valley to talk about water and other local issues.
Schwarzenegger told the audience, "One of my first conversations I had with Governor-elect Brown was to talk about the central valley and I mentioned how important the central valley and how we need to continue on in the future."
Some worry Governor-elect Jerry Brown won't be as open to valley concerns. But independent Assemblyman Juan Arambula said, "I'm optimistic Governor Brown will do right by us."
Tulare Assemblywoman Connie Conway is looking forward to working with Governor-elect Brown. Conway is the new GOP assembly leader.
Arambula said the valley can still have a strong voice. "If we are most concerned about the central San Joaquin valley and we put partisanship aside I think we'll have a good amount of clout and be able to leverage it with people from other parts of the state."
Governor Schwarzenegger said, "You can't go around and declare victory on all the things that we've done when you have there's still too many people out of work, too many people suffering."
Former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry helped plan the governor's send-off. Schwarzenegger recalled his first meeting with Autry in his office at city hall. Schwarzenegger said, "And we started praying together and I'm saying to myself, this is wild. What's going on here?"
The meeting helped develop a strong relationship between the valley and Sacramento.
Governor Schwarzenegger did not take any questions at the luncheon. Nor did he talk about comments he made about marijuana last night.
The governor told Jay Leno, "No one cares if you smoke a joint."