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Ruffalo: Redistricting likely to impact Montgomery, Holmes

By: Jim Ruffalo
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The recent dump of U.S. Census data was intriguing, especially for political junkies such as myself. But besides making it a bit easier for Republicans to elect the next president, the reapportionment merry-go-round also could have implications locally. Probably the biggest impact redistricting will have will be in the 2012 Board of Supervisors races, especially for the Auburn area. Currently, all of the city and a very large part of unincorporated North Auburn are in Jim Holmes’ 3rd supervisorial district, but for those who have already done the math, the high-country’s 5th District will need right around 14,000 new residents to achieve demographic parity with the remainder of those districts. And from where will those new voters come? Well, nobody has yet asked for my input but it seems that North Auburn — and perhaps a slice of the city — may have to move into District 5 next time around. As I see it, the process will probably push Jim Holmes’ district a bit more into the Lincoln and Rocklin areas, leaving North Auburn to slide into Jennifer Montgomery’s bailiwick. And therein may be a problem for the supervisor who inherits North Auburn. Judging by statistics from recent elections, North Auburn residents are a bit more Republican and somewhat more conservative than the county norm. Keeping that in mind, should Montgomery inherit that area, her re-election (and she has already said she’ll run for another term), might be a bit more difficult. That’s because the new section would negate a lot of the liberal voters’ ballots, which already reside within her current district. Montgomery said she’s ready to welcome them into the fold. “I may not be perceived as being a conservative, but (my record) will show I’m more conservative (then some say),” she said while heading for the high country for a Christmas break. “If I get North Auburn, I’ll campaign the same way I did last time,” she added, explaining that she meant a shoe-leather effort where she goes out and meets and greets the populace. “People who know me know I’m even-handed and that (my priority) is always to represent the district and not a political party.” Meanwhile, having North Auburn remain in the 3rd District could also work against Holmes, and again for the reason that the area in question is more conservative than most. Should the new 3rd take in chunks of Lincoln and Rocklin, it becomes an even more inviting target for a conservative candidate, especially in the primary. That supposed candidate could come from Lincoln, which has a growing cadre of Liptonites in its Tee Party, or it could even come from Auburn should Cheryl Maki listen to her supporters and make a run against Holmes. “I haven’t heard of anybody putting together a campaign for this seat,” Holmes said after returning from his efforts as a Salvation Army bell-ringer. “I’ve been out and about and while (voters) are very concerned over (the political process) of late, they seem to think I do a good job of representing them,” he added. By the way, some of us have noticed that Holmes’ more recent “out and about” include forays into the Rocklin and Lincoln areas, giving credence to folks who insist those areas will soon be a part of District 3. Then allow me to point out one more concern that Holmes has about the upcoming redistricting. Once the lines are drawn and redrawn, the question is, will Holmes’ home remain in the 3rd District? He resides near the intersection of Bell and Joeger roads, which already is quite close to the 5th District boundary, and could be well within it once the new boundaries are put into place. And we all know that you have to reside within your supervisorial district to hold that seat. “Well, I can thank former supervisor Harriet White for my home being in the 3rd District, because her trailer is close to my home,” Holmes said. True, but let’s remember White’s home is on wheels, and could have been moved if redistricting didn’t go her way. “I hope the house stays in the district,,” Holmes said, adding “I’ve been here all my life (63 years) and both sides of my family have been her since the mid-1800s. I just enjoy being in Auburn.” Whether he stays in Auburn is up to those who draw the new lines. As I understand the process, several county departments, along with CEO Tom Miller and County Clerk and elections honcho Jim McCauley do the heavy lifting, then send the preliminary map to the supes for their blessing. “We (supervisors) have no say in running the redistricting process,” Montgomery insisted. However, seeing as how I got a stocking-full of cynicism for Christmas, it occurs to me that everybody involved in the preliminary effort either has their salary or budget — or both — eventually reviewed by those very same supervisors who will approve the final effort. Jim Ruffalo’s column runs Sundays in the Journal. Reach him at jimruffalo@yahoo.com.