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San Joaquin County will be better represented, expert on reapportionment says

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Tony Quinn

Posted: Friday, March 18, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 8:50 am, Fri Mar 18, 2011.

A longtime expert on reapportionment in California predicts that San Joaquin County will no longer partner up with the East Bay and Morgan Hill for a single congressional seat when district boundaries are changed for the 2012 election.

Tony Quinn, co-editor of California Target Boo — which analyzes congressional, assembly and state senate districts and is considered by Republicans as the premier GOP expert on reapportionment — predicts that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, will not represent the Lodi area unless he decides to run in San Joaquin County instead of his East Bay roots.

Quinn, meeting with Republican officials in Stockton on Thursday, said that most of San Joaquin County will be in the same congressional district. In fact, Quinn predicts that the newly carved congressional district will bring Galt and part of Elk Grove together with Lodi and Stockton. He said about 185,000 Sacramento County residents will share Lodi's congressional district.

Quinn envisions major changes in Lodi's representation in the state assembly. Incumbent Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, will no longer represent the Lodi area unless she chooses to move to Elk Grove, Galt or San Joaquin County for the 2012 election.

A 14-member group called the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, replacing the Legislature as the group drawing legislative lines this year, is required to draw new congressional, assembly and state senate lines by Aug. 15. The commission's decision will be final unless the California Department of Justice rules that boundaries weren't drawn legally or unless someone files a lawsuit, Quinn said.

Once the boundaries are finalized, potential candidates will have to quickly decide whether to seek public office, and if so, which district. State legislators must live within their district boundaries, but congressional candidates need only to live in California.

Here is how Quinn predicts legislative districts will appear in the Lodi area:

CONGRESS: McNerney currently represents the entire Lodi area north to the Sacramento County line, but he also has Morgan Hill and portions of the Livermore and San Ramon valleys. Galt is represented by Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River.

Beginning in 2012, Quinn predicts that all but southernmost San Joaquin County will be in the same congressional district, plus Galt and part of Elk Grove. Lodi will no longer share a member of Congress with the East Bay.

STATE ASSEMBLY: Currently, Huber represents the Lodi area and a small portion of north Stockton, but it extends to Amador County, eastern Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and El Dorado Hills. Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, has Lockeford, Clements, Morada, eastern Acampo and part of Victor in a largely rural district in eastern San Joaquin County. Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, represents Galt and Thornton, but most of her district is in the East Bay.

Quinn sees San Joaquin County divided into two assembly districts, possibly divided at the Calaveras River in Stockton. Like its future congressional district, Lodi's assembly boundaries could extend north to take in Galt and a portion of Elk Grove.

Another possibility is that Stockton may want to be in its own district rather be carved in half. In that event, Quinn envisions Lodi going around Stockton and sharing a district with Tracy.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel, who represents the Lodi area, north Stockton and rural east county areas, says that one reason to keep Stockton in a separate assembly district is that agriculture is a community of interest in itself with interests different from Stockton.

STATE SENATE: The Lodi area is currently in the 14th District, held by Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Oakdale. Galt is represented by Ted Gaines, R-Roseville.

The redistricting commission has three primary requirements when drawing boundaries — putting populations next to each other (no more Morgan Hill being paired with Lodi), keeping "communities of interest" in the same district and to accommodate the increasing Latino population, Quinn said.

However, he said, "Nobody really knows what a 'community of interest' is."

Former Republican Assemblyman Dean Andal of Stockton, who organized a series of meetings for Quinn to explain the process to interested Republicans, said he is excited about San Joaquin County, regardless of party affiliations. Currently, there are no state or federal representatives who live in San Joaquin County.

"We're going to have more competition than ever," Andal said. "The winner of this will be the voters."

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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