Boundary Changes Transform Local Districts

Citizens Redistricting Commission to vote on final redistricting maps Aug. 15.

By Gloria Angelina Castillo, EGP Staff Writer

*UPDATE: These maps were approved on August 15, 2011*

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is scheduled to vote Monday on the Preliminary Final Maps for the state’s Congressional, Senate and Assembly Districts. The vote comes following a 14-day public review period, which some have complained is little more than window dressing, since the Commission is widely expected to approve the maps.

Though not yet formally approved, several veteran local elected officials did not waste any time announcing their intentions to run for a redrawn district similar to the one they currently represent.

On July 29—the same day the commission approved the final preliminary maps—US Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, who serves the 34th Congressional District, announced she will be running for the redrawn 40th Congressional District, which she said  “includes the southeast communities I have proudly represented for many years.”

“I look forward to running for re-election and asking my constituents to grant me the honor of continuing the level of constituent service and representation that they have come to expect from me and my office,” Roybal-Allard said in a written statement.

Congressional Districts

That same day, US Rep. Xavier Becerra, who currently represents the 31st Congressional District, announced he will run for the new 34th district that includes Boyle Heights and Northeast and Downtown Los Angeles, much of the area he currently represents.
US Representative Grace Napolitano—whose district has been dramatically redrawn but not renumbered—announced Aug. 2 that she will seek an eighth term representing the 38th Congressional District.

But another elected official also has his eye on the 38th Congressional District. On Tuesday, State Sen. Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) announced his intention to challenge Napolitano for the seat. Calderon’s 30th Senate District has been moved west, and no longer includes any of the cities he currently represents.

His campaign denies, however, that the change to his current district has anything to do with his run for Congress. “Senator Calderon’s decision to run for Congress has nothing to do with the impact of redistricting on his State Senate seat. He is running for Congress to be a champion for economic development at the federal level for the community that he has represented for nearly a decade in the legislature. He will go to Congress with a laser focus on creating jobs in the Gateway Cities and San Gabriel Valley,” said Derek Humphrey, Calderon’s campaign consultant.

Read this story IN SPANISH: Redistribución Transforma los Distritos Locales

Accompanying story: State Redistricting Looks Good for Local Latinos, Says Public Policy Exec

Last week, US Representative Judy Chu, now in the 32nd District, said she wants to continue representing the “San Gabriel Valley Communities” in the redrawn 27th District.

In EGP’s coverage area, the Congressional and Senate Districts have made whole or kept whole most communities.

For example, the 40th Congressional District includes all of Vernon, Unincorporated East LA, Bell Gardens and Commerce. The 34th Congressional District will have Boyle Heights and all of Northeast Los Angeles (Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Glassell Park, Cypress Park and Mount Washington). The 38th Congressional District encompasses all of Montebello and the 27th Congressional District includes the entire city of Monterey Park.

Similarly, State Senate Districts keep communities and cities together. The 24th Senate District includes all of Unincorporated East LA, Boyle Heights and Northeast LA. The 32nd District keeps Montebello together, while the 22nd District includes all of Monterey Park. The 33rd Senate District includes Vernon and Bell Gardens.

At the state level, however, the City of Commerce’s representation has been fragmented, including one leg in the 32nd Senate District and the other in the 33rd District.

And while the new boundaries of the local Assembly Districts unify Unincorporated East LA, they divide Commerce into three districts (53rd, 58th, 63rd), and divide Montebello in three districts (51st, 49th, 58th). Boyle Heights is also divided into two Assembly Districts, with the majority of the community in the 53rd District along with Vernon, and a smaller portion, mainly the Hazard area, in the 51st District that also includes East LA and Northeast LA.

State Assembly Districts

Assembly Speaker John Perez’s 46th District has been renumbered and the boundaries significantly changed, and the majority of the communities he represents now in the 53rd District. He picks up Korea Town, but loses Little Tokyo, said Perez’s aide John Vigna.

Perez thinks the Citizen’s Redistricting Committee had a tough job to do, and worked hard—especially in soliciting input from Californians, Vigna added.

Maria Blanco is one of the 14 citizen commissioners redrawing the state’s political maps. “This is the first time in California’s history that redistricting has been done in the light of day for the public to witness,” Blanco told EGP in a written statement, adding she cannot comment on specific boundary changes until after the commission votes due to possible litigation.

Blanco noted that the Commission’s discussions and decisions are part of the public record and are archived on the Commission’s website in videos and transcripts at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov.

“I believe that when the voters created the Citizens Redistricting Commission they did so to take partisan politics out of the process and replace it with fairness and objectivity. The Commission has certainly delivered that,” she said.

The commission has the option to reject the maps and is still accepting public comments up until its vote on Aug. 15, however, as Blanco explained, the law prohibits changes to the final preliminary maps, which she expects the commission to adopt.

All the congressional and assembly seats mentioned earlier are up for a vote in the June 2012 Primary and Nov. General Election. Only one senate seat in EGP’s Coverage area is up for election—the new 33rd District that now includes areas currently represented by Senators Kevin De Leon (22nd District) and Ron Calderon (30th District).

The transition to the new maps means some incumbents who are not termed-out will be forced to run in a new district with new boundaries and population, said Jaime Regalado, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs. “The vast majority of incumbents don’t like to be in new district unless it’s the majority that elected them,” Regalado said.

State Senate Districts

The Commission’s numbering of Senate districts was designed to constructively address the transition to new boundaries in what is known as the “deferral issue,” Commission spokesperson Rob Wilcox told EGP.

“That is when people scheduled to vote in 2012 (those living in existing odd numbered [Senate] districts) are assigned to a new [Senate] district that does not vote until 2014 (even numbered districts),” he said.

The preliminary final maps can be viewed at the Commission’s website at www.wedrawthelines.ca.gov. Readers interested in submitting comments can email votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov or fax at (916)-651-5711.

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August 11, 2011  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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