The California Citizens Redistricting Commission seems to have listened to us, and is keeping San Leandro whole in the new district maps. However, they’re cutting our long association with Hayward and we will now be bunched with Oakland/Alameda for both the California Assembly and Senate districts. This means that from a practical point of view it’s unlikely that any San Leandran politician will be able to be elected to the California Legislature – Oakland politicians are not only better known, but they are able to tap into deeper pockets for campaign contributions. But candidates for state office will still have to pay attention to San Leandro and our particular issues if they want our votes. It’s not the ideal situation, we’d have more political clout if we were part of a district that included Hayward, but it’s better than the alternative of being cut in two, as the earlier maps suggested.
Sandre Swanson, who represents the 16th Assembly district that currently includes Oakland, will be termed out and several city council members from Oakland and Alameda are expected to run for his seat in 2012. I’m sure we’ll be seeing them around these parts soon. As for the Senate, we’ll be in a district that will now include both our current Senator, San Leandro native Ellen Corbett, and Loni Hancock of Berkeley. At this point it’s impossible to know who will be our state senator come 2012. Depending on what number the Redistricting Commission assigns to that senate district, there may be an election for that senate seat in 2012 or a senator may be appointed to the seat until 2014.
San Leandro will not be lumped with Oakland in the new Congressional district (sorry Barbara Lee fans), but rather we will be part of a new district that goes as far south as northern Fremont/Newark and that includes of all Livermore and areas further to the east. This is an area currently represented in congress by both Pete Stark and Jerry McNerney. Stark is one of the most liberal members of Congress, while McNerney is a somewhat conservative Democrat. This new district will be heavily Democrat, but with a strong conservative base. It’s difficult to know what will happen if this district map is finalized. Stark could chose to run against McNerney in a primary, or against Zoe Lofgren, who will take over the southern part of Fremont/Newark that Stark currently represents. More likely, he’ll chose to retire. He’s 80 years old and in ill health, and still has a young family he could spend his last years with. Ellen Corbett has expressed interest in running for Congress before, and she may be willing to confront McNerney in a primary election. Indeed, this may be her only if not best chance to continue in politics.
Of course, the maps issued today are the first draft. The Redistricting Commission will continue hearing testimony and may redraw the maps based on that. For that reason, I think it’s still important to continue writing to the Commission and asking them to make sure that San Leandro is kept together in the final maps.