Redistricting makes a difference for city | August 5, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - August 5, 2011

Redistricting makes a difference for city

When Mountain View voters go to the polls next year they won't find the familiar names of Joe Simitian or Elaine Alquist on the state Senate ballot, or Paul Fong for the state Assembly.

Instead, due to redistricting and term limits, the likely candidates for the state Senate will be longtime Mountain View Democrat Sally Lieber facing current Assemblyman Jerry Hill from San Mateo. Both are Democrats and are not likely to see much serious opposition in the open primary, when the two top vote-getters of any party will square off in the general election Nov. 6.

If the new maps released last week are adopted Aug. 15, the number of Simitian's district will change from 11 to 12, and it will cover a wide swath of the Peninsula, starting at Brisbane in the north and running south to Sunnyvale, which, like Mountain View, will be added to the district. The new map will mean Simitian or his successor will lose his Santa Cruz constituents and the remains of Alquist's district will shift south into Santa Clara County.

A major impact of the changes is that Mountain View will join other Peninsula cities in the same district, rather than being the far northern reaches of Alquist's Senate territory.

In comments to the Voice for a story in June about the expected districting changes, Lieber said, "Mountain View is going to be more politically linked to the Peninsula. I think that is a positive thing," adding, "when we are more grouped with South Bay cities, we are really overshadowed by the city of San Jose."

The new Senate district also means that the city will be represented in 2012 by Rich Gordon's new more compact 21st Assembly District, as will Half Moon Bay and other coastal communities. Paul Fong's new district will move south, taking in more of San Jose.

But despite the changes, Mountain View's districts will remain heavily Democratic, with Rep. Anna Eshoo continuing to represent the city in the 14th Congressional district.

The 14-member Redistricting Commission, created by California voters in 2010, held 23 public hearings around the state and is scheduled to approve a final map Aug. 15. This very public process is a welcome change from the gerrymandered districts created by legislators, whose main goal was often to protect their own seats.

Simitian, who is termed out in 2012 and who has yet to reveal if he will seek another public office, said the commission did a good job.

"If you look at the first set of draft maps, they followed the rules, exercised common sense and kept it as apolitical as it was possible to do." In a story published in the Voice's sister paper, the Palo Alto Weekly, he said, "I give them high marks."


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