The state’s independent redistricting commission unanimously approved its final maps Monday night, setting in stone the brand-new districts California voters will use to elect legislators at the state and Congressional level in 2022.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years following the census, and the new boundary lines in California have been drawn by an independent, 14-member commission twice now since 2010. Commissioners must create new districts which contain an equal number of people while ensuring no minority votes are silenced in compliance with the Federal Voting Rights Act. This year, slower population growth in California meant the state lost one of its 53 U.S. House seats.
The maps approved on Monday will go into effect for the June 2022 primary election, creating an environment political consultant Tim Rosales likened to “The Hunger Games” as new battlegrounds are created and politicians must decide where their allegiances lie.
“They've got to decide right now…You see people coming out right now with statements on what they're going to do and they’re being pretty definitive about that. And some people are kind of holding their cards close to their chest, which you can completely understand,” Rosales said.
Congressman Josh Harder, who currently represents all of Stanislaus County and part of San Joaquin County, saw District 10 split in half as part of the redistricting process.
Turlock is now part of the new Districts 5 and 13. Turlock’s east side and Denair are included in District 5, which stretches from the eastern Sacramento area, through Tuolumne and Mariposa Counties and down into Kings Canyon, jutting west into Stanislaus County to include a portion of Modesto and all of Oakdale, Waterford and Hughson.
District 13 includes downtown and the west side of Turlock, as well as some surrounding neighborhoods, and reaches up to Lathrop, down through Patterson and Mendota, and into Coalinga of Fresno County.
Harder’s campaign has yet to comment on the redistricting process and where he’ll run for re-election in 2022; the Congressman and his wife, Pam, announced on Tuesday that they’re expecting their first child. The new District 5 shares territory with current District 4 Rep. Tim McClintock, while Rep. Jim Costa, who formerly represented parts of Fresno, Merced and the town of Hilmar, told the Sacramento Bee he’ll be running for election in the new Fresno-based District 21.
Rosales, who served as campaign manager for former Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze’s 2020 Congressional run against Harder, was an advocate for the creation of an independent redistricting commission back in 2008, but said commissioners failed areas they were less familiar with, like Turlock and Modesto.
“The incompetence of this commission splitting those communities is mind-blowing,” Rosales said. “...For somebody like Mr. Harder, he has to consider a community he’s represented for a while. How do you choose which part of it to represent in these communities that have now been split in half, based on these new maps?”
Members of Congress don’t have to live in the districts they’re elected to represent, making the decision for representatives like Harder a bit easier. His current District 10 has been a battleground between Republicans and Democrats like himself for the last decade, and Rosales anticipates the newly-drawn, local districts remaining competitive.
“In terms of the overall dynamics and how we think about the Central Valley, I think it will continue to be one of those areas that Republicans and Democrats can continue to tussle over and that will change hands over the next 10 years until the next redistricting,” Rosales said.
In the State Assembly, Turlock’s representative will likely be a new face as Heath Flora’s District 12 was sliced. The Ripon native now lives in the newly-drawn District 9, encompassing parts of the lower-Sacramento region, Lodi, Manteca and Waterford.
Turlock is now part of District 22 along with Modesto, Patterson, Newman and Gustine, and east into Snelling. Assemblymember Adam Gray will likely stay in the new District 27, which includes Merced and Delhi and stretches down to Coalinga.
“The voters gave the Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission the job of drawing new maps. We have to accept and respect their decisions. While I am less than thrilled to lose so much of my constituency in Modesto and Turlock, I look forward to building new relationships and working just as hard in the areas where I have new constituents,” Flora said in a statement to the Journal. “I’ll go as far as saying this: As messy as the redistricting process was, after working in Sacramento for five years, I trust a citizens commission much more than I would the legislature to draw lines for new districts.”
Turlock’s State Senate seat will also feature someone new after current District 8 Sen. Andreas Borgeas filed papers earlier this month to run for Congress in District 22, where former Rep. Devin Nunes is resigning to run former President Donald Trump’s new media group.
Turlock’s Senate seat is now part of the new District 4, which stretches from Lake Tahoe, down through the foothills and all the way into Inyo County.
Though no further changes are permitted, the maps must now sit for three days for public input. After the commission completes its final report and submits it to the secretary of state, the maps are likely to be challenged in court.
“I don't think anybody is thrilled with these maps or thinks that they are the best representation of work by a redistricting commission,” Rosales said. “And I think that's disappointing to a number of folks, whether they’re on the ‘D’ side or the ‘R’ side.”
To view the final maps, visit https://www.wedrawthelinesca.org/map_viewer