GOPIO honors Mayor Willie Brown Jr. and Senator John Burton for 50 years of public service

Ritu Jha-

The Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) recently hosted an event to celebrate 50 years of public service of Mayor Willie L Brown Jr. and Senator John Burton.

The event was conducted on November 27 at the New Delhi restaurant in San Francisco, with Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad, the Counsel General of India, and Curtis Sparrer, co-founder of Bospar PR, and president San Francisco Press Club attending as the guest of honor.

Brown and Burton, two of the most prominent figures in the political circle, leaders have shared a long and fruitful relationship with the Indo-American community over the years.

During his acceptance speech, Brown, 87, said, “Since 1951, we (Senator Burton) were in politics together and went to law school together, we got elected together and we served together and it is a matter of pride and we take this honor. It’s the first time and in history in more than five decades in the involvement of public life ever been honored together.”

Pointing to Ashok Bhatt, the president-Silicon Valley chapter of GOPIO and a longtime friend, Brown said, “When you extended the invitation, it was clear he would accept and we did so because we really treasure the relationship with this community in our lives and our political successes.”

Brown served over 30 years in the California State Assembly, spending 15 years as its speaker. He later became mayor of San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle called Brown “one of San Francisco’s most notable mayors.”

Brown left the tiny town of Mineola, Texas, to become one of the most powerful and most flamboyant politicians in California. And he was the first black mayor of San Francisco.

Burton, who has served as Chairman of the California Democratic Party from April 2009 until May 2017 and in the California State Senate (1996–2004) and is the founder of John Burton Foundation.

John Burton Foundation, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for California’s homeless children and developing policy solutions to prevent homelessness.”

The members of the Foundation, pointing to the Indian American attendees said, “We really need the community,” in reelection to all the support they had offered over the years.

“When I first ran for office in San Francisco,” said Burton about the Indian community, “I can tell there are parts of towns I can still smell the recipes in the kitchen. I have seen the community grow from South of the market in San Francisco to Fremont.”

Lauding the Indian American community, Burton said many people become supportive and sheltered the homeless in and around the San Francisco City when the government never cared about those people.

Burton also acknowledged how the community supported him when he ran for public office.

“The first time I ran for office, 3000 votes came from South of the market, where people had restaurants, good fortune and hard work. So when a good friend (Brown) asked, to join I feel I am truly blessed by his friendship and support and this community,” Burton said.

“We met over 50 years ago and we have been together ever since and we had many fights and affairs with each other but we always stayed together. He is a great man and we would resolve disputes, and if some would do against Willi it was against me,” he said Burton who also is an attorney.

When indica asked Burton about the rising crime, series of mob-style robberies, and what action the California governor should be taking, he said, “Even governor doesn’t know what is happening.”

Adding further said that the governor cannot do anything. Stealing and selling products, and these are terrible people taking advantage of these bad times when people are in the festive season.

“Justice will reap the problem for them,” Burton cited.

(R to L)Senator John Burton, Ashok Bhatt, president GOPIO-SV, and Dr. T.V. Nagendra Prasad, the Counsel General, San Francisco honors Ramu Bhai Patel. Photo credit:indica

During the event, the organizers also honored a long-time hotelier who has been a major part of Indian American success story, Ramu Bhai Patel. Patel owns several motels in the San Francisco region.

Ashok Bhatt, told indica News that he had asked Patel to open his motel when Senator Dianne Feinstein, ran the housing program for HIV patients.

The guest of honor, Dr. Nagendra Prasad talked about how the Indian American community has been on their toes to help and support their fellow men.

He noted how the community stepped up during Covid, especially highlighting that India attracted over 80 billion foreign investments. He ended his speech saying that the contributions of the Indian American community are vital to India’s long-time growth, and along with its huge economy, India can pull the country out of the slump caused by the covid pandemic.

Prasad said, “We are looking for partnership in many sectors and that also include innovation, in healthcare and infrastructure in India.”