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High Desert lacks a Congressional rep in latest redistricting plans

Staff writer
:

San Bernardino redistricting
San Bernardino County must use the state redistricting when determining new county district lines.  The next county redistricting workshop is at Covington Chambers at 385 N. Arrowhead Ave. in San Bernardino on Tuesday, Aug. 9 after the Board of Supervisors regular meeting, which starts at 9 a.m. County district drafts are available here.

SACRAMENTO • The finalized drafts for new Congressional districts leave the High Desert without a representative.

Congressional drafts released last week lump most of the High Desert from the 41st and 25th Congressional districts into a new 8th District, but doesn’t include representatives Buck McKeon (R-25) or Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-41).

A spokesman for Lewis said the congressman had not made any decisions about whether he would move to the 8th District — where most of his current constituents are — because he hopes the drafts aren’t approved.

Lewis isn’t satisfied with the latest draft lines and how they split close communities like San Bernardino and Highland into different districts, said Jim Specht from Lewis’ office.

“He doesn’t feel it does a great job at all in reflecting communities of interest in that area,” Specht said.

Brad Mitzelfelt, San Bernardino County’s 1st district supervisor, said he would run in the 8th District if Lewis didn’t.

“I hope that (Lewis) does,” he said, adding that Lewis could “easily win and be able to retain that seat as long as he’d want.” 81 percent of Lewis’ votes in the 2010 election came from San Bernardino County voters, and almost all of that area would be part of the new 8th District.

Specht said Lewis knows the desert well and feel very close to the constituents who would be in the 8th District.

The proposed districts were drafted by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, a 14-member commission mandated in 2007 to determine new Congressional and state Assembly and Senate districts after the census. The commission must submit final district maps by Aug. 15. Rob Wilcox, commission spokesman, did not return phone calls for comment.

A portion of the current 25th District west of the High Desert will become the new draft 25th District and includes the Santa Clarita valley where McKeon lives. San Bernardino, where Lewis lives, just misses being included in the 8th District and instead is part of the new 31st District with Colton and the Redlands. This information was incorrectly reported in a story in Saturday’s Desert Dispatch.

The drafts must be voted on by Aug. 15. Mitzelfelt said he thinks the drafts will likely be challenged because of the splits between communities of interest. For example, the High Desert is more similar to the eastern part of Kern County — also a desert — Mitzelfelt said, than to Highland, which is part of the 8th district.

According to the drafts, Barstow’s Assembly district would become the new 33rd District and would not be represented by current Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-34) from Tulare. There appears to be no current Assembly members living in the draft 33rd District.

Barstow’s draft State Senate district would become the new 16th District and current Senator Jean Fuller (R-18) from Bakersfield would also represent the new district.

The draft districts can be viewed at http://wedrawthelines.ca.gov and comments can be submitted to votersfirstact@crc.ca.gov.


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