A ‘Jewish State Senate district’ in San Diego County?
By Gary Rotto
SAN DIEGO — I have my “own” State Senate District. No, I’m not planning to run anytime soon for the State Senate (or Assembly or Congress). But Paul Mitchell and his folks at Redistricting Partners created a proposal shaping it on my suggestion. A long-time political consultant in North California, Paul started Redistricting Partners which has
become probably the most widely consulted website for understanding the redistricting process. Redistricting
Partners had analyzed most of the major map submittals leading up to the release of the 1st maps by the official California Citizens Redistricting Commission. And they continue to analyze the official maps and “visualizations” that the commission
So I asked Paul for to put two proposed Assembly districts together to form a State Senate district. And he “named” it for me. The Commission would call it RCHMM plus LMSAND but I think that the “Gary Rotto District” is a little easier to remember.
What’s exciting about it, is that it is a district that includes the major centers of the Jewish community.
The San Diego Jewish community is very spread out with the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Family Services Headquarters in parts of Kearny Mesa; the JCC in La Jolla; the retirement villages of Seacrest in Encinitas and Poway; the San Diego Jewish Academy in Carmel Valley; and congregations spread from Carlsbad to Rancho Bernardo to Chula Vista. But the acknowledged population centers are Carmel Valley, Del Cerro, University City and La Jolla. It’s not an easy district
to create these days.
It was easier to have the Jewish community in one district when the majority of community lived in Del Cerro. The community was much smaller then. As late as 1975, a study commissioned for the Jewish Federation showed that there were only 30,000 people in the Jewish community. A study in 2003 showed that this number just about tripled to 89,000.
And it was only in the 1990’s that the community settled in significant numbers in the developing neighborhood of Carmel Valley.
There stands a decent chance that when revised maps are released that the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will include at least Del Cerro and Carmel Valley – if not University City as well – in the same State Senate district. Right now, Carmel Valley is in one proposed assembly district and Del Cerro in a separate one. With the size of the urban area and the
distance between the two communities, it’s not feasible to have both communities in an Assembly district. However, state
Senate districts encompass about 850,000 people. Since there are 80 assembly districts and 40 state senate districts, theoretically, two assembly districts can be put together to form a senate district. This is called “nesting” districts.
There’s a major problem with how the assembly seats have been nested in the first drawings of the maps by the Commission in that this probably has caused two Voting Rights Act violations just in San Diego. The commission has to go back to the map boards and re-nest the districts. This allows for the possibility that the Del Cerro, Carmel Valley and even
University City areas will be united in one district. So back to the GR map. Not only does it contain those three areas, but
also Scripps Ranch and Rancho Bernardo! The resulting district has a Democratic-Republican registration of 39%-33% (with 25% registered as independents and 3% registered with other parties). Barack Obama won this area by 15% while Meg
Whitman won by 1%.
The chief beneficiary could be Assemblymember Marty Block, the former president of the American Jewish Committee in San Diego County. Having already declared he will run for a State Senate seat, he may be able to do so in a district tailor made to his moderate-left of center political leaning, including most of the city of San Diego with its main centers of the Jewish community.
There are other scenarios for renesting, but most observers acknowledge that in the present plan, Latino voter strength is diluted. And the consolidation of the Latino community could cause the consolidation of the Jewish community.
Even without having the community concentrated in one district, the Jewish community has done very well in San Diego – from Democrats Larry Kapiloff, Lynn Schenk , Bob Filner, Howard Wayne, Marty Block and Marti Emerald to Republicans Bill Kolender, Bonnie Dumanis, Susan Golding, Greg Smith and Abbe Wolfsheimer.
Historically in California politics, the discussion about the Jewish community focuses on the West side of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. In fact, there are engaging discussions about what will become of the careers of legendary
Congressman Howard Berman and Congressman Brad Sherman, who have been placed in the same San Fernando Valley Congressional district in the current plan. For once, the Jewish community of San Diego is also talked about, albeit at a different level, in redistricting conversation. But the strong possibility is that – that just like our cousins in LA — there may be a political seat for the Jewish Community in San Diego.
Note: The district map does not imply promotion or endorsement of this or any map by Redistricting Partners
Rotto is a freelance writer based in San Diego County. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Short URL: http://www.sdjewishworld.com/?p=19302