Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
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Tuesday November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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State of CaliforniaCandidate for Governor

Photo of John H. Cox

John H. Cox

Businessman/Taxpayer Advocate
4,742,825 votes (38.1%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Affordability - Bringing down the cost of living for all Californians including housing, food and gas prices.
  • Housing - Reducing the cost of housing and making it easier for people to afford their rent or mortgage.
  • Transportation - Easing traffic and reducing commute times, building and improving roads and highways.



John Cox is a businessman, not a politician. He is the son of a Chicago public school teacher. John’s birth father abandoned the family when John was only three months old. Raising two boys as a single mom was challenging. The family struggled financially, moving to a small apartment in Prairie Shores on Chicago’s South Side. Several years after John’s father left, his mom got remarried to a postal worker. They moved to the suburbs and lived a reasonably comfortable lower-middle-class lifestyle. The Cox family shopped at discount stores, drove Volkswagens, and took one vacation a year.

John’s mom worked at Calumet High School, an almost exclusively African-American high school on Chicago’s South Side. He frequently went with her to school, particularly on his days off and in summer, which she often worked to earn extra pay. John Cox’s parents were union members and Democrats. He naturally grew up to be a Democrat as well. He had a political interest from an early age as a young boy, running around the house in a white shirt and tie reciting lines from the President Kennedy’s inaugural speech.

Cox graduated from H.L. Richards High School and then attended Moraine Valley Community College & University of Illinois Chicago Circle campus working his way through school, like many students today, he lived at home and commuted. Following college, Cox worked, attended, and then graduated from IIT Chicago Kent College of Law.

John worked as a CPA and then built his own business from scratch into a $200 million enterprise with almost 100 employees. He turned around a major food service manufacturing company, restored it to profitability and saved jobs. He is active in charitable organizations and serves as a Board member for the San Diego USO. John also founded an organization that repairs the homes of low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. Since 1991, that organization has mobilized 20,000 volunteers and repaired over 1,000 homes.

John Cox is running for California Governor to take California back from the special interests that own the politicians in Sacramento. Those special interests and the politicians they bankroll have given us the highest income tax as well as the highest poverty rate in the nation. They have wrecked our once-proud school system, driven small business owners to relocate their business and jobs to other states, and utterly failed to build the water storage facilities we need to manage California’s abundant water supplies.

John has four daughters and lives with his wife Sarah in San Diego where they are active in and attend Nativity Catholic Church.

Questions & Answers

Questions from KQED and League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

There is a shortage of affordable housing in California. How would you approach addressing California’s housing crisis? Please include specific proposals.
Answer from John H. Cox:

It shouldn’t cost twice as much to build a house in California as in other states.  I've spent decades building and renovating housing in other states at less than half the California cost.  Red tape, taxes, sweetheart contract deals, fees and outdated rules have created this problem.  The answer is to streamline the approval process for building housing and remove the artificial barriers put in place by special interests.

We cannot expect to fix California’s growing economic problems with small, piecemeal actions. We need bold thinking that sweeps away years of special interest regulations and politically correct penalties imposed on productivity and job creation.

First, we need to address the high cost of housing and lack of supply. The key to solving the government-created housing crisis is to replace the sledgehammer of the California Environmental Quality Act with a greatly streamlined set of sensible reforms. The current rules have made housing unaffordable which means it doesn’t work. If something doesn’t work, it needs to change. A major overhaul of the 47-year-old CEQA law will go a long way to solve this issue.

Allowing homebuilders to start building housing again, at full capacity, would have a tremendous impact on construction jobs and those of related industries. Additionally, I will quadruple the renter’s tax credit so people don’t lose the roofs over their heads. This is a reform that needs to be passed immediately. The reality is people need help now – and that’s my immediate concern.

The economic growth impact of those new jobs on business activity and government revenues will make it possible to restore the financial solvency of California government by making it possible to address the state’s unfunded public pension liabilities and protect workers’ retirement income.  

In the past, efforts to repeal regulations have met with huge opposition from special interest lobbyists whose clients are often enriched by those very same regulations. I plan to shine the spotlight on the corrupting influence of special interest money on our government and help citizens hit the re-set button.

Los Angeles Times editor-at-large Jim Newton on April 21, 2016, Newton wrote, “CEQA is also a woefully blunt instrument that thwarts economic growth and, perversely, can actually harm the environment.”

When Sacramento wanted to build the new sports and entertainment arena, the California State Legislature passed a bill to waive CEQA requirements on the project, a luxury generally not afforded to California’s homebuilders – which by the way, provide a significant number of good union jobs.

What was once a well-intentioned bill signed by then-Governor Reagan, CEQA has now become the tool of special interests, crony capitalists, and litigators to stifle growth in California. It needs updating.


I know that these are bold proposals, but given the problems our state is facing, we need to think boldly and be innovators as we chart the future of California.


California has some of the richest people in the country and some of the poorest. What would you do to reduce income inequality in California?
Answer from John H. Cox:

The time is now – before the next economic downturn, and with $15.9 billion in total reserves – to grow our economy even more through housing and job growth, and institutionalize an unprecedented culture of prudent, compassionate stewardship and accountability throughout California. And I would empanel a commission to come up with a revenue neutral plan to bring California’s tax system into the 21st century. We could have done this already, but the politicians aren’t interested in any solution unless it wrings more money out of California’s working families, and for me, that’s a non-starter.

I would do several things immediately. I have promised to call a special session of the Legislature to reform CEQA to shorten housing project approval times. I build apartments for $80,000 per unit in the Midwest that would cost four times as much to build here. We need to start swinging hammers and give people real jobs that will support a family and provide a good living wage.

I will lead an army of auditors through Sacramento where politicians waste millions while people can’t afford groceries. I’ll start with Caltrans and the DMV. Why should it cost California far more to build and maintain roads as in the rest of the country? Short answer: It shouldn’t, and when I’m governor, it won’t.

I agree that maintaining a strong surplus is a good cash flow management tool, but I absolutely reject the idea that when the economy puts people under extreme economic hardship, that our first concern ought to be keeping some of these agencies fat and happy. Let’s use some common sense.

We must also ensure a sufficient social safety net is maintained for those who need our help most, and cannot provide for themselves. 



Currently there isn't enough money in the state retirement system to pay for all the benefits promised to government workers. What would you do as Governor to address the state’s unfunded pension liability?
Answer from John H. Cox:

First and foremost we need to start funding our pension liability, because workers will get hurt if we don't - and that is unacceptable. I also go back to my economic growth plan that infuses money into the state due to growth, without asking Californians for even more than they already pay. It's doable if we think about this problem and have a bold vision. 

I will make sure that the pension and retirement of every worker that has paid into the system and been promised a benefit will get paid. This isn't a partisan issue - it's an issue of basic trust. But we need to address this problem immediately and I plan to do so day one. 

In my professional life prior to this run for office, I have drafted pension plans - I understand how they work and what we need to do to ensure that they remain solvent for future retirees. Right now California is dropping the ball on this issue, but my promise to all of our state workers worried about their pensions is that help is on the way. 

How would you describe your feelings about charter schools? Are you in favor of any changes in the way the state governs charter schools?
Answer from John H. Cox:

When I talk about forgotten Californians, I include those parents whose only choice is to send their child to a failing school.  The politicians promise that things will change, as they have been promising for years, but those parents and their children are trapped today and need help today.

We’ve got many terrific teachers in our public schools who are as concerned about our failing schools as the rest of us. The question should be, “What is your advice for a parent of a child in a failing school?” I think parents have a right of exit when the local school fails. “Right of exit” is not the silver bullet any more than charter schools are the silver bullet, but if your child is trapped today, right now, in a failing school, then you want an alternative today, not ten years down the road.  “Right of exit” and charters can provide an immediate alternative where, for many trapped children, none currently exists.

I completely support every effort to provide immediate relief to those students trapped in failing schools, offering them real alternatives today, not false promises.  That’s why I so strongly support parental choice, “right of exit,” and charter schools, and if someone has a better idea, I’m all ears. What we have been doing isn’t working.

California and the federal government have disagreed about enforcement of immigration laws. Do you support California’s current ‘Sanctuary State’ law? If not, why not? Are there additional strategies that you would pursue as Governor?
Answer from John H. Cox:

The place to check people’s immigration papers is at the border, not at the mall, or someone’s front yard or in the classroom. It’s ridiculous to expect every school or business or homeowner to be doing ICE’s job for them. That’s putting the burden where it doesn’t belong, and we shouldn’t accept that role. 

I don’t want government agents stopping members of my family on the street and asking to see their papers, which means I also don’t want them doing that to your family either.  I am not willing to sacrifice the personal liberties we enjoy as Americans just because the federal government is doing a lousy job of managing the border. And you can blame both parties in Washington, since we’re punted on these issues regardless of which party was in control. 

We do need to have a process that allows our federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to communicate with eachother in order to remove violent, dangerous criminals from our country that are undocumented. 

Who gave money to this candidate?


Total money raised: $16,144,309

Top contributors that gave money to support the candidate, by organization:

John H. Cox
Employees of Equity Partners LLC
Global Income Investments and employees
Employees of Thomas Manufacturing LLC
Employees of Horowitz Group

More information about contributions

By State:

California 96.09%
Arizona 0.85%
Illinois 0.60%
Idaho 0.46%
Other 2.00%

By Size:

Large contributions (96.06%)
Small contributions (3.94%)

By Type:

From organizations (10.87%)
From individuals (89.13%)
Source: MapLight analysis of data from the California Secretary of State.

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

California has the highest poverty rate in the nation.  Our schools are failing and millions of forgotten Californians cannot afford decent housing.  Millions more must choose between buying a half tank of gas or groceries for their families, this is a choice no one should have to make.  


Millions of Californians are struggling.  They are the forgotten ones falling through the cracks.  Their choices are either working two or three jobs to afford basic housing, groceries, and energy, or moving their families out of California.  As Governor I vow to  to take on the special interests and make life more affordable for all Californians. 

We can build more affordable housing, get help and treatment for our homeless population, build roads and repair the our existing highways and streets, build more water storage and make clean drinking water accessible for everyone, protect our environment and maintain our forests so we reduce fire danger, fulfill our promises to our workers and restore our public schools to the best in the nation.  

We all know someone we love and care about who is thinking about leaving California. I will turn that around and restore the California dream. Help is on the way! 

Candidate Contact Info

San Diego CA 92130
3525 Del Mar Heights Road, #1077
San Diego, CA 92130

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