Political boundaries could lead to legal fight
by Jon Mendelson / Tracy Press
Aug 16, 2011 | 4154 views | 17 17 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Potential lawsuits and ballot challenges are the only thing standing between California voters and new state and federal political boundaries approved this week by a nonpartisan commission.

Months of meetings led to the Monday, Aug. 15, final vote of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which voters approved via a 2008 ballot initiative to redraw the state’s Congress, Assembly and state Senate political boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.

Hundreds of citizens originally applied to be on the commission, which in the end was comprised of 14 people. The first eight were chosen randomly after the state auditor and legislators narrowed down the pool to 60 and 36 qualified applicants, respectively. Those eight citizens selected the next six commissioners.

All but one of the 14 voted in favor of the new boundaries this week. But the lone dissenting vote has led some groups to claim partisan wheeling and dealing played too large a role in the supposedly nonpartisan process.

“This commission broke the law,” said Republican Michael Ward, the only commissioner to vote against the new lines, at a press conference Monday. "This commission simply traded the partisan, backroom gerrymandering by the Legislature for partisan, backroom gerrymandering by average citizens,” he was reported as saying.

Despite an apparent dismissal of Ward’s claim by commission chairman and fellow Republican Vincent Brabba, Ward’s charges look to be the groundwork for what could become a legal or ballot-box challenge of the commission’s work.

“… Dr. Michael Ward not only confirmed that assessment (of an unfair process) but established motive,” said California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, in a statement. “At this point, every California citizen should want the commission to vote down the maps."

According to some analysis of registered voter demographics, Democrats could gain enough seats via redistricting to win a two-thirds party majority in the Senate. Such a margin, if achieved in both the Senate and Assembly, would allow Democrats to pass statewide tax increases without requiring any Republican votes.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund also issued a statement to the Los Angeles Times suggesting it might challenge the state Senate and congressional boundaries, because an alleged failure to create certain Latino-majority districts could violate the Voting Rights Act.

But Eric McGhee of the Public Policy Institute of California said this week that fears of Democratic gains might not pan out as some Republicans anticipate.

“Because the new Democratic-leaning seats are often competitive, the benefit for Democrats could easily prove elusive,” McGhee wrote.

He also analyzed the maps as being drawn fairly and said they avoided overt partisan gerrymandering.

“The plans once again include a larger number of competitive seats than under the maps from 2001,” McGhee wrote this week. “… (Though) compared to the June 10 draft, there are five fewer competitive seats in the Assembly, the same number in the Senate, and one additional seat in the House (of Representatives).”

Locally, Tracy and Mountain House will find themselves with new voting neighbors and new elected officials if legal challenges or voter initiatives don’t alter the lay of the political landscape.

Tracy and Mountain House will share the 13th Assembly District with Stockton and the majority of the San Joaquin Delta region.

All of San Joaquin County will be part of the 5th Senate District, which also includes Modesto in Stanislaus County and Galt in Sacramento County.

And in Congress, Tracy will now be part of the fighting 10th, which includes Manteca, Ripon and Escalon, as well as all of Stanislaus County. Mountain House, meanwhile, will be part of the 9th Congressional District, along with Stockton, Lodi, Lathrop, Brentwood, Oakley and part of Antioch.



Who’s running where?

Politicians are already jockeying for a place in the newly created districts.

Rep. Jerry McNerney, the 60-year-old three-term incumbent Democrat who now represents Tracy and Mountain House, has already announced he will run to represent the 9th District in 2012. McNerney has stated his intention to move from Pleasanton to San Joaquin County prior to his campaign.

Ricky Gill, a 24-year-old native of Lodi with a long list of accomplishments, has said he will seek to represent the Republican Party in the 9th District in an effort to bring homegrown representation to the area.

The fortunes for Tracy’s congressional district are less set in stone.

The first person to officially announce he will run for Congress here is Democrat Mike Barkley of Manteca.

The lawyer, certified public accountant and software engineer’s biggest priority is to repeal the 2nd Amendment — the right to bear arms — in exchange for allowing Congress to regulate firearm ownership. He said recurrent multi-person shootings, most recently one in Tuscon, Ariz., in which a congresswoman was nearly killed, inspire him to seek more aggressive gun control.

“The only place you can do it is in Congress,” Barkley said. “These things take a long time, but somebody has to start it.”

While Barkley admits his gun control quest could take at least a century, he also embraces a host of other issues, including growing jobs by retooling free trade agreements and forcing the government to contract those that employ only in-country workers; Medicare for everyone; balancing the federal budget through targeted tax increases and spending cuts; and improving the storage capacity of California’s water system.

It’s not certain who his fellow competitors will be, though Barkley expects Stockton native and Democrat Jose Hernandez — a former NASA astronaut with various technical degrees — to throw his hat into the ring. Hernandez had made no formal announcement as of Monday, Aug. 15 .

Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican who already represents a portion of Stanislaus County in Congress, did not commit to running for a certain district earlier this week. However, he affirmed Tuesday that he planned to represent the Central Valley, which could make him a 10th District contender.

“I look forward to continuing to represent the people and communities of the valley,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat whose Congressional district includes parts of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties, has repeatedly said he intends to run close to home and will likely not be in the 2012 running for the 10th District. He also is reportedly mulling retirement.

Calls to Cardoza’s office seeking comment on Monday were not immediately returned.

Another sitting politician who will make a run at a new office is Cathleen Galgiani, a Democrat who has represented Tracy, parts of Stockton and San Joaquin County the past five years in the Assembly. She confirmed Wednesday, Aug. 16, that she would seek the 5th Senate District seat in 2012.

Galgiani conceded she’d face plenty of challenges if elected again, she was at least pleased with the redistricting commission drew San Joaquin County into a single Senate seat.

“It’s a difficult time to serve, but that’s sometimes when you can get the most accomplished,” said the Stockton native. “I was elated to see that this Senate district will give me an opportunity to continue the work and the projects that I’ve been working on the past five years.”

She said guiding the state’s high-speed rail project over hurdles — including escalating cost estimates and conflicts about the project’s leadership — is one of those priorities, as is protecting agricultural land and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Galgiani did not have an officially committed opponent, though some political insiders have suggested Republicans Tom Berryhill, a state senator, or Kristin Olson, who serves in the Assembly, might toss their hats into the 5th District race.

• Keep turning to the Tracy Press for ongoing coverage of the people seeking to represent Tracy and Mountain House in the Assembly, state Senate and Congress. • This story was updated Wednesday, Aug. 17.
Comments
(17)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
AugustMarch
|
August 18, 2011
TomBenigno,

I can understand how you might feel that way, if you were running against Arnie, for example. But it's not always true in every case. Besides the lines were supposed to mix it up.

But I see your complaint, if it is the candidates with BIG money bags went scrambling off to another district.

That sorta thing happened less in 2006. But it happens moreso now.

I think what you're saying is gerrymandering NOW involves moving only ONE person (the candidate), as opposed to the whole district?

TomBenigno
|
August 18, 2011
Contributor:

Read my lips, the changes in the districts does not change the mind set of politics. People will vote on the candidate that has the most money. That's not what it is about.
AugustMarch
|
August 18, 2011
Maybe you're on the wrong article then. This one seems to be about the changes to the political boundaries. That was the context and scope of my comment. I have no idea what you're talking about or if it's related.
TomBenigno
|
August 18, 2011
Contrubutor:

I'm sorry but I was not talking about district changes. I was making a point, we need change from the same old politics. The message I sent to the 11th district voters, at the debate in 2006 was, IT'S WAS TIME FOR CHANGE. And it happen.
AugustMarch
|
August 18, 2011
TomBenigno,

What do you mean? Don't you know we already got "change"? Didn't you read the article?

Read the Record. They redistributed CD10. The congressman is moving to CD 9. Today's Stockton paper already shows him at a winery in Lodi.

Did you mean, "change", you want the district back?

TomBenigno
|
August 18, 2011
contributor:

No, just person's who have had enough, and want change.
AugustMarch
|
August 17, 2011
TomBenigno,

Do you believe there are some who are late bloomers?
TomBenigno
|
August 17, 2011
Readers:

Leadership comes at all ages. Receiving Social Security is just another part of life.
AugustMarch
|
August 16, 2011
Here's a better survey. If the election was held today would you vote for a 60 year old or a 20 year old.

I'm thinking the 20 year old might be more hungry for it, because of unemployment. The 60 year old probably aint hungry and carries a senior discount card and a social security card?
residentadvocate1
|
August 16, 2011
Will be interesting to see who runs for us.

Southern Cal /La already getting petitions for unconsistency between them.

TomBenigno
|
August 16, 2011
Survey:

Last night I got a call from some phony survey company, asking me if the election were today would I vote for republican Jeff Denham or democrat Jose Hernandez. My response to the person was I think you have the wrong district.
AugustMarch
|
August 16, 2011
Beep,

If you read the Stockton paper it says McNerney will move to district 9. District 9 is Stockton/Lodi.

Tracy is in District 10, as residentadvocate wrote.

The Tracy Press didn't have all the details in this article, but the move was alluded to in an earlier Tracy Press article.

Although they didn't specify the Real Estateor. I took liberal artistic license to ask that question of the Tracy Press.

They probably weren't aware since they mentioned "San Joaquin" and repeated it. In contrast, the Stockton paper was more specific and said, "Stockton".

Maybe the Tracy Press is still hoping he will stay here?
AugustMarch
|
August 16, 2011
At least it's good for the economy and real estate agencies in Stockton will be making money from the assembly. Twice.

Once before the lawsuit.

Then again, after the lawsuit.

residentadvocate1
|
August 16, 2011
The numbers are

Tracy,ca

Senate 5

Congress 10

Assembly 13
AugustMarch
|
August 16, 2011
Beep,

That's funny.
beepbeepcomingthrough
|
August 16, 2011
AugustMarch-

Hey Mr. Smartypants, I think a good new Tracy neighborhood you should belong to is on the Northwest corner of McCarthur and schulte.
AugustMarch
|
August 16, 2011
Tracy Press,

So, does this mean Pombo Real Estate might not be assisting him in finding a Tracy neighborhood?


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