California Forward has traversed the state asking for opinions from local and statewide leaders on what can be done to fix the Golden State’s seemingly broken government.
Thirty such leaders gathered in San Jose’s Empire Firehouse at Historic Park last Thursday to talk about the problems plaguing the state, and more specifically realignment – how to make different levels of government work together like a well-oiled machine, with an emphasis on empowering community government.
Many of the leaders at the event, sponsored by the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley (ALF), thanked California Forward, noting how important it is to meet with people they don’t normally get a chance to talk to, with most agreeing that it’s crucial to transfer power to local governments.
“There is a gross disconnect between residents and their governments, which manifests itself in a lack of trust, and a lack of willingness to get involved,” said David Boesch, manager of San Mateo County. “But that can be addressed by evolving government to the local level so people can see a connection between their tax dollars and the services they receive.
However, other stakeholders felt California Forward might have bitten off more than it could chew, given that implementing changes may mean overhauling the status quo in Sacramento.
“How are you going to make cities and counties work together?” wondered Kara Gross, executive director of the Silicon Valley Economic Development Alliance. “Even just here in Silicon Valley we don’t have enough levels of government to make it happen, so how do we achieve it on a statewide basis?”
In fact, a digital survey of the stakeholders revealed that if needed resources were moved from the state to the regional level, 59 percent of attendees said it is unlikely that regional municipalities would share the wealth, even if it meant achieving a common goal.
California Forward’s Richard Raya told the group that newly passed ballot measures on redistricting and open primaries are intended to break up the staid polarizing atmosphere of Sacramento, and make it more hospitable to future realignment proposals.