Neighborhood Legislature Initiative Filed
Published by San Diego U-T
Rancho Santa Fe venture capitalist John Cox has formally launched a “Neighborhood Legislature” ballot initiative, aiming for a statewide vote in November 2014.
Cox’s self-funded proposal is intended to reduce the influence of money and special interests in politics. It would keep the 80 Assembly members and 40 senators that now make up the California Legislature, but their role in shaping state law and policy would take a back seat to 12,000 “citizen legislators” elected throughout California’s neighborhoods.
Cox detailed his proposal in a news conference Thursday, announcing it is being filed with state officials. He calls it the solution to ending politicians unresponsive to the concerns of average Californians. The drive for 807,000 signatures to qualify the measure starts Jan. 1, he said.
“This is going to build,” Cox said. “Our strategy is to go into January with 10,000 people who will be candidates, and we already have identified 3,000.”
The plan calls for dividing the 80 Assembly Districts into 100 neighborhoods that would elect 8,000 “citizen legislators.” Those people would caucus by Assembly district and select one representative to send to Sacramento. The same process would be used for the 40 Senate districts, with 4,000 citizen legislators then selecting each district’s Sacramento representative.
The citizen legislators, who would represent their neighborhoods, would vote on proposed bills online and receive just a small stipend. While critics call it too complex, Cox said he believes voters will grasp the idea and back once they see its merits.
“You can’t explain it in a 30-second TV ad, but you can in just a couple of minutes,” he said. “I think people get and understand the concept of having neighborhood representatives.”
Cox served as the treasurer for the recent Bob Filner recall effort that sought to force an election on whether the former San Diego mayor should be forced from office. Filner resigned instead and has since pleaded guilty to three criminal offenses related to the sexual harassment allegations that forced him from office.
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