How Voters Can Transform California in One Election

Oxnard, California, wouldn’t immediately come to mind as the epicenter of a political revolution, but that’s exactly what it will be, if a small group of citizen activists succeed in putting not one, but five reforms in front of voters in the next major election.

The citizens initiative has been available to Californians at the state and local level for decades, but they are relatively unusual in local elections, and typically come one at a time. Local activists in San Jose and San Diego, for example, both placed pension reform initiatives on their municipal ballots, which voters passed by by landslide margins.

But what’s happening in Oxnard is unique, because voters may have the chance to vote on an entire slate of initiatives. While each one addresses a different topic of reform – financial transparency, street maintenance, term limits, open meetings, and permit streamlining – if voters approved all of them, they would have a mutually reinforcing impact. They would transform local politics in Oxnard forever, and pave the way to even bigger reforms.

At the state level, a slate of initiatives was tried in 2005 by then Governor Schwarzenegger. Taking office in Nov. 2003, Schwarzenegger tried for over a year to get California’s legislature to implement the reforms that voters had apparently mandated when they recalled the previous governor, Gray Davis. Unfortunately, Schwarzenegger’s initiatives had no viable campaign. Tepid variants of “it’s gone too far” doused the airwaves, barely, while the opposition went […] Read More