Revised State Assembly districting plan released

By Jennifer Coleman Associated Press Writer
Monday September 10, 2001

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Democrats unveiled a revised plan for new districts Saturday, tweaking several key districts in response to last week’s hearings. 

Lawmakers were further from agreement on how to shape new districts for the state Senate and California’s congressional delegation. 

Kam Kuwata, a spokesman for Assembly Democrats, said the new Assembly maps contained minor changes. 

Lawmakers must redraw the districts every 10 years to keep up with population changes revealed by the federal census. They unveiled redistricting plans for all three bodies last week and then held hearings on the proposals Tuesday and Wednesday. 

During the hearings, which included televised testimony from around the state, groups representing Hispanics, Asians, women, environmentalists and regions said the plans slighted their interests. 

Republican Assembly spokesman Jamie Fisfis said the new plans were “closer to what they’ll be when they’re finalized.” 

The 77th district, currently represented by Assemblyman Jay La Suer, R-La Mesa, gained a few more Republican voters in the latest proposal, growing from 44 percent Republican to more than 46 percent. Democrats would make up about 32 percent of that district, down from 34 percent in the first plan. 

A nearly even split among Democrats and Republicans in the first proposal for the 78th District in San Diego was also redrawn. The move shifts more support to Democrats in the district currently represented by Howard Wayne, a Democrat. 

Amadis Velez, redistricting coordinator for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said his group was pleased with changes made to the 49th district, currently represented by Judy Chu, a Democrat from Monterey Park. 

“It’s now very similar to the one that MALDEF originally proposed in July,” he said. The new proposal encompasses about 42 percent Latino voters, up from 37 percent in the first plan. 

However, Velez’s group still plans to contest the proposed lines drawn for Senate and congressional districts, saying Latino communities were “fractured” by the initial plans. 

Kuwata said Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, has been talking to Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, about making changes in the Senate lines that would help his members. 

If embattled Rep. Gary Condit, D-Ceres, decides soon to retire instead of run for re-election, it could help resolve some of the criticism of the Senate plan. 

Condit’s departure would clear the way for Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza, D-Atwater, to run for Congress, not the state Senate, and allow legislative leaders to redraw the Senate maps to help another aspiring member of the Assembly. 

Lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn for the year next Friday, but the final session could be extended by majority votes in both houses.