As primaries for California’s 2018 midterm elections ramp up, residents of the state are greeted by familiar faces. From reelection to climbing the ranks, the lineup for 2018’s mid-term elections have largely been career politicians. That’s where John Cox comes in.
For more than 35 years, Cox made his name as an accountant, businessman, venture capitalist and conservative advocate. Now, he’s leaving it all behind to run for governor of California.
His March 2017 campaign announcement was met with questions by residents, politicians and analysts alike. Why would a successful businessman change careers to get hands-on with state government?
The answer can be found in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois.
With his early life spent growing up in the city’s golden age of corruption, Cox saw its devastating effects on neighbors, friends and closest of all, his mother. Throughout her career as a teacher, her and her colleagues repeatedly fell victim to one of the less-talked about forms of corruption: cronyism.
Year after year, Principals at the schools she taught at were selected, not by merit, but by their relationships with key aldermen. The effects of this cronyism was felt by teachers, students and their families. One important personnel decision influenced by corrupt motives would trickle down and impact hundreds of people.
“Cronyism and relationship politics are hidden below the surface but can have a tremendous impact,” says Cox. “Seeing this as a child really stuck with me.”
Over the span of his career in Chicago, Cox would become a critical member of school and zoning boards, helping to create better rules which place merit over favoritism. He also built local chapters for organizations benefitting low-income families in the Chicago school system.
The lessons Cox learned as a boy and as a decision maker in the Chicago community are the driving force in his plan for shaping California’s future.
In addition to serving in 2012 as Newt Gingrich’s California Finance Chair, Cox started his political activism in 1987, serving on Jack Kemp’s Presidential national steering committee. Later on, , he also helped lead the charge in removing disgraced Mayor Bob Filner from power in San Diego, backed the Paycheck Protection campaign to control union corruption and is active in several charitable organizations.
“Public policy is my passion,” says Cox. “If policy is determined by corruption, whether by influence peddling, special interests, unions or cronyism, the quality of life for average citizens is altered significantly.”
It’s seeing these same practices, which have all but driven out California’s middle class, still in use decades later which inspired Cox to take the step into state politics.
With a belief that the current field of candidates are either incapable or unwilling to find the solution, he sees an opportunity to step in and change the status quo himself.
Luckily, he feels he’s found the solution with his Neighborhood Legislature proposal, which would ultimately shrink California’s legislative districts. Shrinking the districts makes it harder for special interest groups to buy influence as the number of active legislators grows. The value of their current politicians will decrease as well.
Smaller districts also give non-politicians and independent candidates a better shot at running. With less capital needed to run for election, door-to-door campaigns of neighbors and local leaders become possible and the power of big money is all but erased.
“Since childhood I’ve seen how much our legislators are buried by influence. Cronyism and corruption has our state counties and cities in a stranglehold, and California suffers more with each passing day,” said Cox. “The damage our government does is far greater than any work I could do in the charitable realm. Public office is the only way I can make a lasting difference.”
Fighting against the same “big city mayor” types he saw as a kid in Chicago, John Cox is all-in for California’s future.
SOURCE: Citizens for a Better California
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