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New Districts: Goal to Create “Communities of Interest”

Posted by on Jun 16th, 2011 and filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

By Jason KUROSU

In 2008, Proposition 11 took redistricting for state senate and state assembly districts out of the hands of legislators and into those of the newly created California Citizens Redistricting Commission, a 14 member organization made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four members from neither party. In 2010, Proposition 20 gave them the authority to draw the boundaries for the U.S. House seats’ districts as well.

Proposed redistricting map for State Congress.

On Friday, voters saw the fruits of those propositions as the new districts were announced. The response from both citizens and politicians to the initial drafts of the maps has been mixed. Those who have been looking to shake up what they view as a system that allowed legislators to handpick their voters, praise the new districts. Others find that they are now lumped together with other cities and areas that they consider inconsistent with them in a number of ways, despite the Commission’s goal to create districts that represented “communities of interest.”

However, the districts are not set in stone. The Commission will continue to consult citizens through a series of public hearings and reshape the districts accordingly up until an Aug. 15 deadline.

Proposed redistricting map for State Assembly.

“I think [the maps] are tremendously in flux,” said Commissioner Maria Blanco in a television interview with NBC.

In addition to the public hearings, the Commission can also be reached on its website, where anyone may submit a public comment. The fluctuating manner of the proposed districts and the open dialogue approach of the Commission may help settle concerned voters and politicians.

“We listened to people,” Blanco said of the original construction of the maps. “We had over 1500 persons testify to us for this first draft, telling us what their community was like, who they needed to be grouped with because they shared a particular social, economic industry, etc.”

Proposed redistricting map for State Senate.

As for the foothills, much of the area has been consolidated into a small number of districts. La Crescenta and La Cañada, formerly of different assembly and congressional districts, now fall within the San Gabriel Mountain Foothills district. They also now share the same senate district, the South Los Angeles-Glendale district.

Glendale shares that same South Los Angeles-Glendale senate district with La Crescenta and La Cañada, along with the San Gabriel Mountain Foothills Congressional district, but is part of the Burbank-Glendale Assembly district.

The changes in the landscape will certainly change things for local politicians, including David Dreier (R-San Dimas), whose district in La Cañada is now part of the San Gabriel Mountain Foothills district, which also encompasses the area in Glendale where Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) former 29th district lies. San Dimas now lies within the E. San Gabriel Valley – Covina District, an area with a significantly higher proportion of Latino voters and a higher Democratic representation than his current district. With Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) vying for a congressional seat as well, the potential for competition for the district is ripe.

With La Crescenta, represented in the senate by Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) now sharing the same senate district as La Cañada and Glendale, represented by Carol Liu (D-La Cañada-Flintridge), the San Gabriel Mountain Foothills district could be set up for an interesting race for the senate seat as well.

While politicians may find the coming months to be a struggle as they try to plant their flags in their respective districts, the Redistricting Commission will have their own workload trying to maintain the population and other census numbers for each district while also making adjustments in response to concerns from the citizenry.

To comment on the new districts or to find out when a hearing is being held locally visit the Redistricting Commission’s website at http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov/.

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