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A closer look at new legislative map proposals

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Posted: Tuesday, June 14, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:02 am, Tue Jun 14, 2011.

In Congress, Lodi and Antioch could be represented by the same person.

In the Assembly, Lodi and Galt might become married to Solano County and places like Woodland and Winters.

In the State Senate, the new Assembly district would not only encompass Lodi and Galt, but the entire Napa Valley, Santa Rosa and Sebastopol to boot.

Sound a little far-fetched? Not really.

These are some of the scenarios presented in draft maps released Friday by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was formed after California voters approved Proposition 11 in November 2008. In that election, voters took the redistricting authority away from the state Legislature and asked what they hoped would be an independent commission to give it a try.

The commission has 14 members, including five Democrats, five Republicans and four registered as Decline to State.

“It’s an earthquake with a tsunami,” Doug Johnson, a redistricting scholar from Claremont McKenna College, told the Contra Costa Times from Walnut Creek.

Lodi vintner Bruce Fry, president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau Federation, said he would rather see the Lodi area in a district encompassing communities like Elk Grove and Amador County.

Grape growers, whether they be from Lodi, the Napa Valley or Sonoma County, are pretty united on major agricultural issues, Fry said. But Lodi would be more comfortable in the more conservative areas like Elk Grove and the foothills, he said.

Here are some new characteristics stemming from the proposed maps:

  • Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who represents most of San Joaquin County, plus the San Ramon Valley, parts of the Livermore Valley and Morgan Hill, would gain the Fremont-Newark area, which is represented by Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont. Members of Congress are not required to live in their district, just within California.
  • State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who has championed major safety improvements on the hazardous portion of Highway 12 between Lodi and Suisun City, would lose the entire Highway 12 corridor from her district.
  • State Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, would be in the Lodi-Galt Senate district. Evans would lose most of her current district, which runs the entire Highway 1 and 101 corridors from Santa Rosa to Humboldt County.
  • The city of Galt would be separated from rural areas west of town. Wolk, the Davis senator, would be in the same district as the rural area of Galt from Christensen Road to the San Joaquin County line in Thornton.
  • Galt is likely to keep Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, but areas west of the city limits would have a different member of Congress, representing Solano and Yolo counties.

“It’s still a lot for me to digest,” Galt Mayor Barbara Payne said. “It bothers me that they carved out Galt like they did.”

Payne said she understands why Galt would be packaged with Lodi in the Assembly and State Senate, but she’s confused about her city’s connection with Woodland and Solano County. Elk Grove would be a logical fit for Galt because they have commonalties, such as fire service, Payne said.

Wolk wasn’t available for comment on Monday afternoon because she was presenting two bills to the Legislature, Chief of Staff Craig Reynolds said.

In a news release, Wolk said, “I commend their work so far, recognizing they have much more work to do. I am prepared to support their final product regardless of its potential impact on my political future.”

Former Galt City Councilman Tom Malson, who follows the political scene, wonders how a Galt-Napa-Santa Rosa marriage would turn out.

“That’s going to put Galt farther away from the Central Valley conservative core. Do they know where we are?” he said.

And this in from the Sonoma County side of the proposed Senate district: “I call this the foreclosure district. The only common community of interest in that whole swath are people who have been thrown out of their homes,” David McCuan, political science professor from California State University, Sonoma, to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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