Ceres is proposed to be placed in the 13th Congressional District under a redistricting plan unanimously approved by the state’s independent redistricting commission on Dec. 20.
Changes were also ordered for districts used to elect legislators at the state level in 2022.
Redistricting takes place every 10 years following the U.S. 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 approved maps 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 his District completely changed as part of the redistricting process. Harder will seek re-election in the new 13th Congressional District, which will encompass western Stanislaus County, Merced County, and the western half of Madera and Fresno counties, all the way south to Coalinga and Huron.
Part of Harder’s current 10th Congressional district will become the 5th District, including the rest of Turlock and Modesto plus Oakdale and Riverbank. It includes Placerville and El Dorado Hills in the north, Sonora, as well as most of Tuolumne, Calaveras, Mariposa, and Merced counties. It also includes Yosemite as well as King Canyon national parks.
The new 10th Congressional District has been shaved down closer to the Bay Area communities of Brentwood, Oakley, Clayton, Walnut Creek, Concord and part of Dublin. Most of those communities are now in the 11th Congressional District.
Most of the eastern half of Stanislaus County, including Hughson, Waterford, Hickman and Oakdale, will be placed into the 5th Congressional District. Currently that district is represented by Rep. Mike Thompson, a Democrat. The top pointy portion of Stanislaus County, which includes the rural areas around the Woodward Reservoir, and Eugene, will now fall inside of the 9th Congressional District now represented by Democrat Rep. Jeremy McNerney.
Turlock was diced up and 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 west 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. The new District 13 shares territory with current District 4 Rep. Tim McClintock, while Rep. Jim Costa, who formerly represented parts of Fresno, Merced and 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 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 Modesto and Turlock.
“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,” said Rosales.
In the state Assembly, Ceres’ representative will likely be a new face as Heath Flora’s District 12 was sliced. The Ripon Republican now lives in the newly-drawn District 9, encompassing parts of the lower-Sacramento region, Lodi, Manteca, Oakdale, Waterford and Hickman. Ceres is now part of the 22nd Assembly District, along with Turlock, Modesto, Patterson, Newman and Gustine, and east into Snelling. Assemblyman Adam Gray will likely remain in the new 27th Assembly District, 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. “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.”
All of Stanislaus County is part of the new 4th Senate District.
The district is geographically massive, stretching from Lake Tahoe, down through the mountain and eastern Sierras, all the way into Inyo County. Ceres is currently in the 12th Senate District represented by state Senator Anna Caballero, a Salinas Democrat, while the eastern half of Stanislaus County is represented by Andreas Borges, a Republican in the 5th Senate District.
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
Jeff Benziger contributed to this report.