Self-professed “beast” John Cox drove into town on Monday to deliver his case as to why voters should choose him over the “beauty” known as Gavin Newsom in the upcoming recall election.
While the infamous Brown Bear that Cox previously campaigned with was absent, his tour bus was toting an 8 foot ball of trash meant to symbolize the damage done to California by homelessness.
Homelessness was at the forefront of Cox’s speech. He proposed tackling the issue through a combination of affordable housing, enforcement of laws, and public-private partnerships to provide services to unhoused individuals.
“California has 13 percent of the people and we have almost half of the unsheltered homeless in the country. That is inexcusable. That’s political malpractice. That’s a lack of leadership,” said Cox.
Cox criticized the state’s current approach to homelessness for a lack of accountability on how funding is spent and a failure to address the issue’s root causes. He took specific swings at Project Roomkey—for a lack of attention to treating addiction and mental illness—and at the state’s permanent housing model—for wasting taxpayer money on high cost construction.
“The City of Los Angeles is now proposing to build a 150 unit complex for housing homeless people down in Venice, on some of the most expensive land in the world, and they’re going to spend something like $500,000 a unit on this place,” said Cox, referring to the controversial Reese Davison Community housing project.
Cox vowed to drive down the cost of construction to make it easier to build homeless housing and affordable housing that could prevent people from falling into homelessness. He said that if elected, he would call a special session and introduce a package of reforms including limits on impact fees, CEQA exemptions for housing, and litigation measures to shorten the approval process for construction.
Although he is running as a Republican candidate, Cox shied away from identifying with the party or its platform saying, “I’m not a partisan. I’m not a politician. I’m a business guy.” In a call to Trumpian tactics without ever invoking the former president’s name, Cox repeatedly emphasized his business credentials and political outsider status as attributes that would make him effective in office.
When asked what appeal he would have to voters in the stalwart Democratic city of Santa Monica, Cox pointed out that many Democrats signed the Newsom recall petition.
“I think a lot of liberals are going to look at what I have to say and say ‘gee, that’s the guy who’s actually going to make the quality of life better for us. I don’t care if he’s got an R or a D next to his name. I want to just solve the problem’,” said Cox.
Cox is a multimillionaire who made his money in real estate, investments and property management. He is also a perennial political candidate and ran for four different seats in Illinois from 2000 to 2008, using his personal wealth to fund his campaigns.
Cox ran against Governor Newsom in 2018 and lost by the biggest margin in a state gubernatorial race since 1950. He is one of four prominent Republican candidates running in the 2021 recall alongside a handful of lesser known candidates.