Welcome to the neighborhood – California’s new center of political representation and power
When we think about state politics, we think about Sacramento and the state legislature, and all the centralized institutions of the state’s power over its citizens. But there is a way to change our thinking so as to unleash the dynamism and energy that emanate from California’s local neighborhoods.
Neighborhoods provide a grounding point for us in relation to this giant state of almost 40 million people, and its $2 trillion economy. We can readily identify with the innovative impulses of neighborhoods like the Fashion District of L.A. and the South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco or the research centers of Almaden Valley in San Jose. And we can participate in and contribute to local growth in the neighborhoods where we work, study and live. In our neighborhoods are the schools where we study, the companies we work for, and the local merchants and retailers we buy from. There are local events ranging from farmers’ markets to music concerts to sports. The neighborhood is where we take our exercise and organize our everyday lives.
But our neighborhoods are not represented in state politics. There are 40 state senators in California, each representing approximately 1 million people, and there are 80 state assembly members, each representing about 500,000 people. They can’t know the people they represent, and they can’t be familiar with their hopes and concerns. Even if they could, they don't pay attention, because their election and re-election to their giant districts is paid for by the special interests who can fund the TV, radio, billboard and direct mail campaigns. The representatives pay attention to these funders and do what they want, not what is right for the voters and their neighborhoods.
The Neighborhood Legislature aims to change this. Our proposition, to go on the ballot in 2016, divides each of these enormous electoral districts in California into 100 tiny districts, each the size of a neighborhood. The campaigns for these new districts will be run door-to-door and in-person. Your neighbors will be the candidates running for office. They don’t need to be part of one of the big parties, they simply need to earn your trust by listening to you and prioritizing your concerns.
These Neighborhood Districts will bridge the gap between your community and Sacramento. Finally, the same energy and personal commitment that makes our neighborhoods so vibrant will inhabit our lawmakers as well. You’ll be learning more about how the Neighborhood Legislature works over the next few weeks and months, but in the meantime, please join us at www.neighborhoodlegislature.com and start spreading the word. Welcome to the new political neighborhood in California.