By John Crowder
John Cox is a Republican candidate for Governor of California. On Wednesday, October 18, Herald staff was invited to meet and interview him while he spent some time campaigning in Contra Costa County. Following are the results of that interview.
Herald: Why are you running for governor?
Cox: Our state has become unaffordable for many people. The business climate is bad. We’re chasing businesses out of the state, rather than attracting new business. Less businesses means less competition, and this is part of what drives higher prices.
Growth is essential for our state, and you can’t have growth unless you have affordability.
Taxes are excessive, and the money that we are giving to our government is not being used efficiently. We need to repeal the regressive, gasoline tax hike.
Yes, we need to have better infrastructure, but we can do that with existing funds. We just need to use them efficiently. That won’t happen until I’m governor. Right now, there is no interest in seeing government entities such as Caltrans run efficiently, and that’s working against the California taxpayer.
On top of this we have a homeless problem, a lot of which is related to mental health, but also an affordable housing shortage. These costs add up, housing, food, gasoline, taxes, making it harder for families to thrive.
Herald: Tell me a little about your background. You haven’t always lived in California?
Cox: That’s true. I’ve lived here for the last ten years, in the San Diego area. But, I’ve had family in California for the last 50 years.
I grew up in Chicago. My mother was a Chicago public school teacher who moved to Fresno after she retired. I came to California mainly for family, but also for the weather.
I’m trained as both a Certified Public Accountant and as an attorney. My business is real estate.
Herald: It’s expensive to run a state-wide campaign. Have you invested your own money in your campaign, and how much do you expect to have to raise?
Cox: I’ve invested $3 million of my own money in my campaign, and I think that demonstrates my level of commitment. So far, we’ve raised $350,000 on top of that, all from individual donors. We’ve just announced the members of my finance committee, about 50 people.
For the primary, we have a budget of between $8-$10 million. We’ll have to raise another $20-$25 million for the general election.
One thing I’d like to emphasize, though, is that money, as important as it is, is not the final determinant. It’s ideas. My ideas will resonate with the average Californian. We currently have over 100,000 followers on Facebook.
Herald: What is your experience? Have you ever held elective office?
Cox: I’m not a professional politician, and so I haven’t held office in the past. I am a businessman, and I believe that it is the skills I developed in that arena that are sorely needed in the leader of our state government. Many people in our country feel the same way; 19 of our governors are business people.
I built businesses. Like other business leaders, I know how to manage people, how to set goals, and how to use resources efficiently. With 40 years of business experience, I’ve also learned how to separate pretenders from doers.
No one person can have the answer to everything. But business people know how to seek advice from those that know more about their special areas of expertise.
In our current climate, all too often, decisions taken by our government are influenced by cronyism. That’s one thing I can’t stand. My career has been based on having the best people, and using the resources that I have efficiently.
People want a governor who will take care of their money. I want our state to be sustainable, for the future of my 12-year-old daughter. So, I have a strong interest in seeing our state run well.
Herald: What issues, specific to Contra Costa County, are you concerned about?
Cox: For one thing, housing costs are outrageous. We need more affordable housing, smart housing. Part of this is driven by the CEQA process. It’s become a way to hold up developers.
A lot of regulations don’t make sense, and further drive up costs.
Many people here in the Bay Area commute. As I mentioned earlier, the gas tax hike will hit those who can least afford it, the hardest. That’s why I’m chairman of Give Voters a Chance, the gas tax repeal effort.
Herald: Are you familiar with the Delta Tunnels controversy?
Cox: Yes, I am. The tunnels project is an unnecessary, pork-based project. Instead of building tunnels, we should be building reservoirs.
Herald: What are your views on education?
Cox: Education is one of my biggest issues. I was the school board president of a parish school when I was 24. As I mentioned, my mother was a public-school teacher in Chicago. She saw, first-hand, the problems that develop when cronyism takes hold.
The education system we currently have is not run for the parents or the kids. It’s run for the union bosses. We need to lessen the power of the unions to continue to push for policies that work against our children.
We need to put the parents in charge. One of the ways we can do this is to have more competition. We need more options for parents, the ability to send their kids to charter schools, or private schools. The politicians already have this ability, yet they’d deny it to the poor kid whose parents can’t afford private school, and are stuck in a failing school simply because of where they live. This is political corruption at its worst.
I support the idea of vouchers, giving the decision on where funds go directly to the parents, and letting them make the choice that is best for their child.
On the same day as the interview, during a press conference in Sacramento with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Cox announced his support for a ballot initiative to repeal the recently approved state gas tax increase, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article.