A Less-Is-More or a More-Is-Less Legislature?
New Initiative Will Drastically Reform California Electoral Process
“Neighborhood Legislature” initiative cleared to gather signatures to qualify measure for the November 2014 ballot
(SACRAMENTO)—”California’s Secretary of State today gave the Neighborhood Legislature initiative the green light to begin gathering signatures to qualify the measure for the November 2014 election ballot. The revolutionary measure will re-draw legislative districts to create smaller Assembly and Senate districts with true local representation, which will, in turn, hold elected officials more accountable to the people they are elected to serve and drastically reduce the amount of money now required to run for office.
“ ‘California’s population has boomed since the current number of legislatives seats was established. Now districts are so large, in both the sheer number of constituents and massive geographic area, that legislators cannot realistically represent the needs of their constituents. This has contributed to the stronghold that special interests have on politicians in Sacramento because they need massive amounts of money to communicate with voters in their district,’ said Neighborhood Legislature proponent John Cox.
“ ‘These special interests dominate Sacramento and the ballot box. The Neighborhood Legislature is a game-changer. By creating smaller, more localized districts, we will fundamentally reform the electoral process, elect citizen-legislators and get special interest money out of politics,’ Cox added.
“According to a recent Maplight study, the average cost to win a state Senate seat is $1,041,537 and $708,371 for candidates elected to the Assembly. By creating smaller districts the Neighborhood Legislature will allow candidates to literally go door-to-door to seek the support of friends and neighbors.
“The Neighborhood Legislature initiative will create smaller neighborhood districts with a population of between 5,000 and 10,000 constituents, based on the type of office being sought. From this pool of citizen-legislators, 120 will be chosen to participate in Senate and Assembly Working Groups in Sacramento, including committee hearings and other procedural elements like those conducted under the current legislative structure.
“The Neighborhood Legislature, a true grassroots movement, has signed up thousands of supporters to volunteer as initiative petition signature gatherers. Currently, more than 8,000 are ready to knock on their neighbors’ doors to bring this initiative to the ballot.
“ ‘I’m proud to be part of this movement,’ ” said Dustin Watson, a Sacramento supporter and volunteer. ‘We need to fix California, and the Neighborhood Legislature will do just that. We’re all sick and tired of the corrupting influence of money on the political process. By creating small, neighborhood districts, we are taking the power away from special interests and putting it back in the hands of voters. Once again, we’ll be able to elect people who care about their local community and are accountable to their neighbors. At a time when FBI investigations and campaign finance violations are making headlines, the Neighborhood Legislature is a breath of fresh air.’
“Additionally, the Neighborhood Legislature initiative would significantly reduce legislative spending, which is estimated to be more than $260 million this year. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), the Neighborhood Legislature initiative would reduce state spending by more than $130 million annually or approximately $1.3 billion over the next 10 years.
“To learn more about the Neighborhood Legislature, please visit www.neighborhoodlegislature.com.”
(Editor’s Note: Visitors to the campaign website might enjoy clicking on “News.” Here’s the title and summary the ballot measure received December 18 from the Attorney General. Cox’s proposal amends the state constitution, requiring the valid signatures of 807.615 voters by mid-May 2014. Cox advanced the same idea in 2011 but abandoned it, as he told the Sacramento Bee in March, because too much attention — finacnial and otherwise — was focused on Proposition 32, a ballot measure rejected by voters that would have restricted the ability of unions to tithe their members for political contributions.)
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