Joe Mathews

Renovating Democracy Fellow
Photo of Joe Mathews by Aaron Salcido

Joe Mathews is a journalist covering California and democracy. He is
founder-publisher of Democracy Local, a planetary publication on local
democracy, and a fellow in the Renovating Democracy theme at the
Berggruen Institute. He serves as Democracy editor and syndicated
columnist at Zócalo Public Square and professor of practice at Arizona State University’s School of Politics and Global Studies.

He is co-author of The California Crackup (2010, UC Press) and author
of The People’s Machine: Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Blockbuster
(2006, PublicAffairs) and The California Recall (2023).

Since 2008, Joe has been co-president of the Global Forum on Modern
Direct Democracy, organizing 12 free, public forums across 5 continents. He is a member of Democracy International, Democracy R&D network, the International Observatory for Participatory Democracy, and The Harvard Crimson graduate council.

Previously, Joe was a reporter at the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and Baltimore Sun; and senior fellow at New America Foundation. Raised in Beijing and L.A., Joe lives with his wife and three sons, and coaches youth baseball, in Southern California.


Photo by Aaron Salcido

By Joe Mathews

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