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GOP Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox Blames California's 'Political Class' For Affordability Crisis

October 16, 2018 1:44 p.m.

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox Blames California's 'Political Class' For Affordability Crisis


John Cox, candidate

Related Story: GOP Gubernatorial Candidate John Cox Blames California's 'Political Class' For Affordability Crisis


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

Our top story on Midday edition. Voters will choose California's next governor. Exactly three weeks from today both Democratic candidate Gavin Newsom and Republican opponent John Cox say the state's affordability crisis is killing the California dream.

Hey PBS reporter Amita Sharma spoke with Cox about how he views that dream my mom went to school in California and so I always heard from my mom about how California had the best schools the best business opportunities. It was the California dream of being able to rise from the bottom and make it your way to the top. And you know I would say that now that dream is almost gone for a lot of people.

Describe what that dream means to you today.

I think it means doing what I did and that is starting at the bottom. My mom was a school teacher in Chicago and making your life a success. And that's the way to cure inequality. The trouble is that what they're doing in Sacramento is making inequality worse by making it so much more difficult to get a good education to start a business or to work for a small business. I'm a small businessman and you know being able to work for a small business or start a small business is the best way to get yourself started in life and grow and achieve success as he said you're a vicious man era lawyer you're an investor who's never held public office.

How do you relate to the nearly half of all Californians who are struggling with poverty today.

Because I solve problems and deliver results when I want to do is give people opportunity and also to have things made more affordable. The cost of housing has been driven up to ridiculous levels and it's mostly government that's done that.

Let's talk about housing you've discussed the affordability crisis in California a great deal. What is your specific plan to make houses more affordable to buy and apartments more affordable to rent.

I build in other states for a fraction of what it costs to build apartments here. And the difference lawsuits red tape taxes. My opponent's answer is they hand out a few subsidies to a few people that is only going to save a few people. It is not going to provide wonderful affordable housing the millions with here are specific plans streamlined the regulations and the frivolous litigation and lawsuits shortened the approval process. Now it takes five different agencies to approve a housing project. Do you support more density in certain spots that could be the case but I don't want to take away the dream of having a house and a yard for people. We need to get away from limiting urban environments and maybe expand out you know California still only builds on about 5 percent of the available land in the states where I think we have plenty of room for expansion.

What role if any should government play in getting the one hundred and thirty four thousand homeless people in this state off the street. Whose responsibility is it.

It's political leadership and a lack of political will. We need to give people the opportunity to get off of substance abuse get treated for mental illness and then have a chance in an affordable house. We need to have compassion for people. And compassion is not letting somebody live on the street. That to me is a tragedy and we've got to fix it and like government to get them off the street. Foster the development of transition centers. There's one in Sacramento I know about Father Joe's Village villages here in San Diego is another example. Make it so that there's more availability of treatment of curer's also a start in training to make sure you get a good job and afford a place your own.

A common complaint. California workers. There simply aren't enough jobs that can support a middle class lifestyle. What would you do to encourage companies that can pay those middle incomes to come into this state.

California has the worst business climate in the country the highest taxes. Nobody in their right mind would move their business here if they didn't have to and that's the problem. I want to cut the regulations and streamline the situation so that more businesses can be here. But we also have to make the state affordable. So many businesses won't move here because their employees can't afford to live.

One in five people in California live in poverty.

What is your strategy to help them reduce the cost of living make it so that we can build affordable housing. If I can build for one fifth the cost in another state we can do it here and still make sure that it's good housing and environmentally safe. You know the reason that people are living in poverty is because the cost of living a dozen eggs is four dollars in San Diego. It's two hours in Phoenix. Our electricity rates are the highest in the country. Our water bills are incredibly high. Gasoline is outrageous. We need to bring the costs down.

Only 47 percent of Californians believe the American dream the California Dream economic opportunity for hard work still holds true can that dream be saved.

Absolutely. We just need the political leadership to change. I'm going to be that change agent because I know what it's like to struggle. I started at the bottom and I want to make sure that other people don't have to struggle.

John Cox thank you so much for speaking with me today. Thank you.

You can find this feature Animi Sharma's interview with Democrat Gavin Newsom on our website PBS. Dot org.