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Jerry Brown Reflects On His Role As Governor As Colusa County — And Retirement — Await

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown rides around his ranch with his dog, Colusa, in rural Colusa County.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

This is part of our look at Jerry Brown's impact on the state of the California as he prepares to leave office. See more stories, interviews, videos and photos here.

When Jerry Brown terms out of the California governor’s office Monday, he, his wife and their two dogs will head to his family’s ranch in rural Colusa County to begin what he most surely does not want to call a “retirement.”

“First of all, this ranch has got lots to do,” he told Capital Public Radio in an exit interview on his ranch on a cold, brisk Saturday morning before Christmas.

“Just learning how to make that olive oil, finding out when to pick it, how much water to use, make sure it doesn’t get diseased. That’s a big deal,” he said.

He also mentioned his leadership role with the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the organization responsible for the Doomsday Clock. “There’s a number of things I’m going to be doing.”

While Brown made history as California’s oldest and longest serving governor, an advocate for climate policy and a staunch supporter of reforming the California Environmental Quality Act, he maintains that governors don’t make history.

“You run for governor, that you want to be governor, and then you want to do what governors do,” Brown said. “And focusing on what historians will think, I would say, is not what governors think about. Because there's so much that is thrown at you — from water to energy to crime to taxes to schools to habitat, everything.”

One legacy that Brown is happy to talk about is his family ranch, which Brown has restored after the land sat unused for about fifty years, he said.

The ranch, which Brown has dubbed “Mountain House III,” has been in the Brown family for generations. But Brown said the family was driven away from the land by mosquitoes and floods, and he’s made it his mission to bring it back to what it once was.

When he retires this month, Gov. Jerry Brown will head to his family's ranch in Colusa County. He has restored the barn on the property and built a new house, which he dubbed "Mountain House III."Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

“So to be able to bring this back to life and have people, and olives producing olive oil, and parties and kids and dogs, it has a life to it,” Brown said. “And I would say that reinhabitation might be called a legacy by those who come after me.”

While he’s comfortable talking about his place in his family’s history, Brown still doesn’t want to focus on the idea of legacy when looking at his time as governor.

“The point is that life is a flow, and many people contribute to things and to history,” he said. “So that's all. And I'm saying, I don’t think governors make much history. I think maybe generals make history, or a historian, or poets, or novelists.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Gov. Jerry Brown's stance on the California Environmental Quality Act. It has been corrected.

Gov. Jerry Brown stands with his dog in front of his house on his family's land near Williams in Colusa County.Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

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