The California Citizens Redistricting Commission is hard at work drawing new lines for California Assembly and Senate districts as well as federal congressional districts, and things are not looking good for San Leandro. While the only maps published so far are just preliminary projections, they split San Leandro pretty much down the middle. Much of the northern part of town will join Oakland in the Assembly and congressional districts (good for Barbara Lee fans!) and the other part will stay with Hayward and Union City (that, if I’m reading the maps right, you can see the proposed Assembly map and proposed Congressional map for yourself). Stark and McNerney will end up in the same district, which may not be a bad thing as Stark is pushing 80 and probably ready to retire. Alas, it would do away with Corbett’s and Hayashi’s congressional ambitions.
In practical terms, this means that San Leandro will pretty much lose any of the political weight it has had as a city. The divided city will offer too few votes for any of its representatives in the Legislature or Congress to be concerned about any particular San Leandro issues. Local politicians will also have a very hard time rising to the state or national stage as they won’t be able to count with the backing of all their local constituents. Historically, San Leandro politicians have done well outside the city. Both the current California Senate Majority leader, Ellen Corbett, and the State Treasurer (and former Attorney General) Bill Lockyer are from San Leandro (though Lockyer currently lives in Hayward, he started his political career in the San Leandro School Board). I suspect that this has been in part because San Leandro is, all in all, pretty cohesive as a community. It enjoys a local newspaper read by everyone in town and has a relatively active civic life. I suspect that San Leandro voters vote for San Leandro politicians much more often than voters outside our borders. In the last elections for the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee, 18th district, 13 candidates run for 6 seats. Five of the candidates elected to those 6 seats were from San Leandro, only one San Leandro candidate did not get chosen (but she was close). I suspect that this will no longer be the case after the split.
The map is still preliminary, and the Commission will accept public input until it issues its final maps in August. I’ve heard that they are very interested in hearing from the public, and they do want to keep cities and communities of interest together. If you feel, like I, that San Leandro is not just a city but a community and that it should be kept whole, please contact the commission and let them know. Every voice will count. You can e-mail them using this form.