Supervisors flip-flop on new district

September 04, 2001 11:00 pm

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

The Del Norte County Board of Supervisors made an about face yesterday.

Last week, all five supervisors voted to oppose a state plan to shift Del Norte County out of its current coastal Senate District and align it with a district of inland counties on the other side of the mountains.

This week, it seemed the mind set was the opposite, as four of the five voted not to send a second letter of opposition.

The supervisors this week said they favored the change to be part of a conservatively minded community of counties.

I dont believe we are currently receiving much support from our senator and I think well have a great deal more support from a more conservative district and representative, said Supervisor Clyde Eller. Joining Eller in voting against sending a letter of opposition were supervisors David Finigan, Jack Reese and Chuck Blackburn.

Under the redistricting plan, Del Norte County would be removed from the 2nd Senate District, which includes the coastal counties of Humboldt, Mendocino and Sonoma, and be combined with the landlocked counties of the 4th District.

As the four supervisors discussed sending the letter of opposition, Supervisor Martha McClure waited in Sacramento for the decision.

McClure and County Assessor Gerald Cochran went to the state capitol to implore the Senate and Assembly committee on re-apportionment not to move Del Norte out of its coastal community.

The other district has issues on their front burner that are different than coastal issues. Its not the same community of interest that our coastal counties have in common, said McClure from Sacramento yesterday.

Because the Senate and Assembly must have their plans in front of the governor by Sept. 15, time is running short for officials and citizens to speak their mind on the possible move.

To help the supervisors make a case against redistricting which they voted to do last week County Counsel Bob Black drafted the letter they voted against yesterday.

In it, Black points to possible violations of the state Constitution if Del Norte is shifted to a new district.

Specifically, it would violate Article XXI of the Constitution, according to Black. It says:

The geographical integrity of any city, county, or city and county, or any geographical region shall be respected to the extent possible.

Black added that The plan to sever Del Norte County from the coastal region and attach the county to an inland district violates this principle.

But, the four supervisors said the letter is not worth sending and that Del Norte may be better off aligned with the Siskiyou, Tehama and Shasta county community.

Some of the best relationships we have are with supervisors of those inland counties, said Supervisor David Finigan.

McClure said she was surprised by the boards change of opinion, but said she already testified to the Joint Conference Committee Tuesday morning to oppose the change.

We were well received and it was Senator Wes Chesbro that got us on the hearings, she said.

Chesbro, a Democrat currently represents Del Norte, As does Assembly Member Virginia Strom Martin, also a Democrat.

If Del Norte is moved to the inland 4th District, representatives there will likely be Republican, as it has been historically.

Though Supervisor Eller said conservative Republicans would better represent the views of Del Norte citizens, McClure said it shouldnt be a Democrat or Republican issue.

Its way beyond a Democrat, Republican issue, its a community issue, she said.

Its uncertain what effect the boards apparent change of heart will have on the redistricting plan.

Supervisor Jack Reese said last week that the plan will likely go through no matter what local officials have to say.

The redistricting plan still faces public comment hearings, approval in both houses and ultimately a signature from the governor all to be to done by the end of next week.