Former Democratic State Chairman Phil Angelides said Friday that he plans to run for state treasurer in 1994 as a progressive who is willing to prune the state bureaucracy and to begin rebuilding the public facilities that California has neglected since the 1960s.
"There's been no forward vision in this state since the day Pat Brown left office," the 40-year-old Sacramento real estate developer said during a breakfast meeting with Los Angeles-area political writers.
Angelides said that if elected, he would use the powers of the treasurer's office to work for a new California transit system, revitalize the state's public education system and restructure government itself to make it work better and more efficiently.
"I'm a big believer in institutional change," he said. "Frankly, what progressives in government ought to be doing to a certain degree right now is pruning the tree so the tree can grow more healthily."
For the past five months, Angelides has been touring California in a tentative campaign for lieutenant governor, a move that would have put him in a potentially divisive Democratic primary election battle with state Controller Gray Davis.
In running for treasurer instead, Angelides said, "that is the best place for me . . . where my skills can best be utilized."
At this point, the only likely Republican candidate appears to be Matt Fong, a member of the State Board of Equalization. State Senate President Pro Tem David A. Roberti of Van Nuys has indicated that he may seek the Democratic nomination.
Angelides ended eight years as a legislative aide in 1984 to become a real estate developer, winning recognition for designing the innovative mixed-use communities of River West and Laguna West in the Sacramento area.
He was elected in early 1991 to succeed former Gov. Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown Jr. as state Democratic chairman and led the party through its most successful election campaign in more than 30 years in 1992. He left the party post at the end of his term in April.
Angelides said he expects to announce his candidacy for treasurer "the day that Kathleen Brown announces for governor, if and when she does."
Political experts expect Brown to declare her candidacy for governor late this year.
Angelides described the recession and rapid change in California as devastating and traumatic, but added that it creates the atmosphere for a debate over the state's future and how to build for it.
"It's been traumatic for a state that's always thought of itself as being the best of everything. We had these truths that became myths: the best economy, the best school system, the best transportation system. In a real way, we allowed these truths to become myths.
"But I want to say it's a great time because the best things happen when you're lean and hungry, when you're in trouble and your back is against the wall."
Angelides said California must stop borrowing to finance day-to-day government and reserve such financing for such long-term investments as mass transit and educational facilities.