Who Should Represent Us?

Who Should Represent Us?

Who should represent us? In our representative republic, the question is of fundamental importance. Yet, in California, we haven’t asked the question or reconsidered its answer since 1849.

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Who should represent us? In our representative republic, the question is of fundamental importance. Yet, in California, we haven’t asked the question or reconsidered its answer since 1849.

Handshake1.jpg

Our state’s founding fathers were able to reassure voters that their concerns and issues would be fully considered in California’s Assembly. With 40 state senators and 80 lower house members for 100,000 residents, it was reasonable to suggest that the people’s interests would be known and represented. Each senator only had to represent 2,500 citizens, and each member of the Assembly only 1,250.

In 2015, California still has 40 state senators and 80 members of the State Assembly. Yet the population of the state is approaching 40 million. There is no possibility of a senator or assembly member knowing, understanding, or representing the myriad local interests in their district of 500,000 – 1 million citizens. The districts are so large and the local issues and concerns so varied that even if the representative did consider them all, there is no way to integrate them in a cogent individual agenda. The citizens are not represented.

Let us ask the question again: Who should represent us? The answer should be: someone I know and who knows me. Someone local, who knows our local hopes and concerns. Someone who has grown up around here and understands the local culture and local people’s needs. A neighbor who has earned my trust, not as a politician, but as a member of my community.

That’s why a group of non-partisan Californians is proposing the Neighborhood Legislature. We propose to set the size of the electoral districts in California at 10,000 people per Senator (about 4000 households) and 5,000 per Assembly Member (about 2000) households – in other words, we want districts the size of neighborhoods. The election campaigns in these neighborhood districts would be help door-to-door and in church halls and local meeting places. The campaigns would not cost a fortune, so local candidates could run on the issues that are important to the neighborhood and the trust that they have earned from their community. 

Who should represent us? Our neighbors.

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