Jon Cox, one of California’s leading Republican governor candidates, spoke to a group of 19 at a public Cal Poly College Republicans meeting May 1.
A businessman and accountant by trade, Cox wore black tassel shoes and held his glasses in his right hand, which he waved about as he spoke. His tie was red with gold elephants, and his lapel pin joined the flags of California and the United States.
“The corrupt, the moneymakers, are in control of our politics,” Cox said. He had been debating with State Assemblymember Travis Allen, his Republican opponent, in Atascadero for the past two hours. Cox said Allen likes to hold Cox’s upbringing as a Democrat against him.
Cox is against unions, interest groups and big businesses that provide money to the election campaigns of state legislators and run ads influencing politics.
“I want to get money out of politics,” he said.
Cox’s answer is to create what he called a neighborhood electorate, based off New Jersey’s system. Instead of 80 large districts electing a total of 80 representatives to the state legislature, 12 thousand small districts would each elect one representative. They would then select 120 of themselves to go to the state assembly.
Cox said his idea would ensure that every representative is known to the people that elect them, and would prevent big money from influencing the outcomes of elections.
“I think he was kinda hung up on the whole corruption thing,” physics and mechanical engineering senior Justin Jee said after the meeting.
Jee came to watch the candidate, and is not a member of College Republicans. He is concerned about prices in housing, high taxes and the possibility of undocumented immigrants receiving money from pools they have not paid in to. He said he would have to further look into the candidates, but was probably going to vote for Cox.
Cox said he is against the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), an act signed during the Reagan era that he said has overrun its utility and is now used primarily to slow construction. CEQA requires an environmental report to be made before the construction of a building can begin, with remedies for any environmental issues discovered.
He said he believes in merit-based teacher salaries, which would require teacher unions to give up power. Unions currently maintain contracts which set the same salary for every represented teacher.
Cox also expressed support for school vouchers, and cited the GI bill as a successful example.
He said he believes that the government should be run like a business, which he said makes him qualified since he bought 3,000 apartments during the course of 40 years, and has been president of Equity Property Management.
“He doesn’t fight rhetoric with rhetoric,” construction management junior and Cal Poly College Republicans Vice President Roberta Martin said. “I really like that, he’s measured.”
Martin invited Cox to speak a month ago. She said she also reached out to Allen, Cox’s opponent, but did not receive a reply.
She was concerned that Cox has no track of policy, while Allen has a history of voting records she could look at. Still, she admired Cox’s stance as a political outsider, and what she described as his unapologetic ownership of being a businessman.
The race for governor has six main competitors. Cox is second behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in first. Following them are Allen, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, State Treasurer John Chiang, and former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delanie Eastin, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.