December 6, 1995
CONTACT: Kim Alexander
(916) 325-2120

Citizens to Question South Bay Area Lawmakers on Role of Money in Politics

A regional town hall meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 6, 1995, at the Santa Clara Convention Center Theater. The event is being coordinated by Your Voices Count, a civic journalism project aimed at addressing the issue of how money influences politics in the California State Capitol.

The purpose of our town hall meeting is to give citizens the chance speak out and share their concerns with lawmakers about the corrupting influence of money in the Legislature, said Kim Alexander, Your Voices Count project director, and executive director of the California Voter Foundation, one of the project sponsors. Other project sponsors include the San Jose Mercury News and KNTV Channel 11, ABC's San Jose affiliate.

The fact that money is corrupting California politics is a statewide problem. Fortunately, the media and citizens of the South Bay region are taking a leadership role in addressing this issue, Alexander said.

The event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required. The Santa Clara Convention Center theater holds 600 seats, and is located at the corner of Great America Parkway and Tasman Drive in Santa Clara. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and will conclude at 9:30 p.m. Ample public parking is available, and the convention center is also on a light rail stop.

Thirteen South Bay Area lawmakers have been invited, and to date, the following have confirmed their attendance: Senators Al Alquist (D-San Jose), Tom Campbell (R-Stanford) and Bill Lockyer (D-Hayward); and Assembly Members Jim Cunneen (R-San Jose), Liz Figueroa (D-Fremont), Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz), Jackie Speier (D-Burlingame), and Mike Sweeney (D-Hayward).

Your Voices Count was launched in June 1995 with 75 citizen participants who contacted the Mercury News after the paper's publication of Legislature for Sale, a five part series documenting the ways that money affects California politics. The number of project participants has since grown to 150. Project participants are tracking bills on the Internet, meeting with their lawmakers, and helping to plan community events like the December 6th Town Hall meeting, Alexander said. They have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to improving the quality of politics and public life in this state.

Last month, Your Voices Count sponsored a public inquiry panel, where twelve citizens questioned five past and present lawmakers about the influence of money in the State Capitol. The citizen panelists took their seats on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, while the lawmakers answered questions from the witness box. Witnesses included former state senator Alan Robbins, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in 1991; Assembly Members Debra Bowen (D-Marina del Rey), Jan Goldsmith (R-Poway), and John Vasconcellos (D-Santa Clara); and Kansas State Representative Tom Sawyer, who led that states legislative reform efforts. The event drew a crowd of 150, and was covered extensively by the San Jose Mercury News, and broadcast on KNTV and KQED radio in San Francisco.

Other project activities have included a citizen lobbying training seminar, trips to the State Capitol to witness committee hearings and the last night of session, a web page that features related news stories and campaign contributions for area lawmakers (, and Internet training seminars. In addition, most participants belong to one of four project teams that focus specifically on the issues of accountability, campaign finance reform, civic involvement, and structural reform.

For more information about Your Voices Count, please contact the California Voter Foundation at (916) 325-2120, or leave a voicemail message at (408) 920-5993. The project may also be reached via email at:

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