Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - June 17, 2011

All over the map

Pleasanton's five years of fame as a city nationally known for its hometown Democratic Congressman Jerry McNerney may soon come to an end with a citizens' commission recommending that the 11th district he represents be moved farther east. Instead, Pleasanton would become part of the 13th Congressional District, long represented by Congressman Pete Stark (D-Fremont).

As troubling as that seems to many in Pleasanton who have come to know (and vote for) their local congressman, it may actually be one of the few changes proposed last week by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission that might stick. Many others, including those affecting Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley, have already been altered or soon could be as voters, politicians, city councils and county boards chime in with their own redrawn political boundary maps and suggestions. San Franciscans are upset that they may lose one of their two congressional districts. Marin County could soon share representatives with sparsely populated counties all the way to the Oregon boarder instead of San Francisco just across the Bay. Fremont leaders are upset that part of their city will be split into two state Assembly districts with a sizeable chunk being combined with a larger political base in San Jose. Districts in Southern California, and particularly largely Hispanic communities in the Los Angeles area, claim they are being disenfranchised by newly drawn congressional and state senate and assembly boundaries.

Early on, the maps first presented by the Redistricting Commission had State Sen. Ellen Corbett's 10th district staying mostly intact. That was fine with Pleasanton. Although this city represents only a small part of the 10th, Corbett is a former assemblywoman from the 18th Assembly District that includes Pleasanton. She's in our city frequently and, as a former mayor of San Leandro, understands municipal issues and supports the Tri-Valley. A newer map, however, moves Pleasanton into a district with Livermore currently represented by Mark DeSaulnier, a former Contra Costa County supervisor who is unknown in local political and business circles.

The newest redistricting map also rejuggles the already confusing state Assembly boundaries here. Currently, Pleasanton is split into three districts: Joan Buchanan's 15th, Mary Hayashi's 18th, and Bob Wieckowski's 20th. That's made no sense from the start and seldom helped Pleasanton when key state issues affecting this city were at stake. The city councils and mayors of Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon petitioned the redistricting commission to put their cities into a single state Senate and state Assembly district. For a few days, that seemed to be what the commission did, realigning these three districts to push Hayashi's west of Pleasanton to the Bay, Wieckowski's south into Fremont and San Jose, and expanding Buchanan's 15th to include all five cities.

No more. The newest map sends Buchanan back north to include San Ramon and Danville and then a huge swatch of population in Contra Costa County. Curiously, Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore got their wishes, at least for the time being. The newest redistricting map creates a new, yet unnumbered state Assembly district just for these three cities. That's good while it lasts, but stay tuned. Public comment, hearings and more map drawings are yet to come.


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