VERNON ( — Vernon, the smallest city in the Golden State, is trying to attract more residents with a 45-unit energy efficient apartment complex called Vernon Village Park.

“We’re starting a community where there was no community in the city of Vernon, you have independent voters who will be registered to vote,” Sen. Kevin de Leon said.

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Vernon has long been plagued by political corruption, KCAL9’s Adrianna Weingold reported.

De Leon wants to change that, in part by widening the city’s voting base. The newest push for housing is part of a list of good governance reforms endorsed by de Leon, stemming from the numerous scandals within local government.

“It was clear for so many decades that the city of Vernon was a cesspool of systemic corruption,” de Leon said.

Mark Whitworth, Vernon’s city administrator, said the city’s past may have been questionable, but his job is to “make sure we’re going on a good foot forward.”

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Vernon narrowly escaped being dissolved into Los Angeles County when a measure was introduced in 2010 to disincorporate any city with less than 150 people.

“A very concerned speaker thought that we were not operating a true democracy,” Whitworth said.

De Leon gave city leaders a choice: increase democracy or lose the city entirely.

Vernon Village Park will double the city’s population.

“It’s good for democracy, and I think that’s what this housing development represents,” de Leon said.

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Officials said construction will begin immediately and should be completed by April of 2015.