Will SLO County bid farewell to Kevin McCarthy? We may indeed — if the first draft of a map drawn by an independent redistricting panel holds up.
The congressional map unveiled last week by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission keeps SLO County in one district — the one currently represented by Santa Barbara Democrat Lois Capps.
It’s a logical change, and we hope it’s adopted.
No matter who winds up representing the district — a Democrat or Republican — it makes sense to keep the county in one piece. For one thing, it’s much less confusing for voters.
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Consider: Under the current configuration, McCarthy represents Paso Robles, Atascadero, Arroyo Grande and Templeton, but Capps represents San Luis Obispo and the coastal cities.
Another advantage: The new map, which puts all of SLO and Santa Barbara counties in one district, creates the “community of interest” that the commission is striving to achieve.
Certainly, San Luis Obispo County has much more in common with Santa Barbara County — another coastal area with large tourism and agriculture industries and state universities — than with McCarthy’s home county of Kern.
The reconfigured district would also be more balanced between conservatives and liberals than Capps’ current district. While Democrats are in the majority in Santa Barbara County, Republicans hold the majority here in SLO County. And both regions have sizeable populations of “decline to state” voters.
As for the remaps of state legislative districts, SLO County also is kept in one piece in the commission’s proposals for the state Assembly and Senate.
Katcho Achadjian’s entire Assembly district is largely unchanged, except for an unfortunate division of the Lompoc area.
Sam Blakeslee’s state Senate district remains geographically daunting and diverse — stretching from north of Santa Cruz to nearly as far south as Santa Barbara — but it doesn’t extend as far east into Santa Clara County as it does now. That’s an improvement, anyway.
All in all, we believe the California Citizens Redistricting Commission did a commendable job, and it underscores the wisdom of voters in taking that critical task out of the hands of the state Legislature.
It’s about time.
Allowing the Legislature to redraw districts every 10 years was political cronyism at its worst. Too many seats were safe havens for incumbents, who have been elected year after year after year.
Under the new system, we should see more competitive races.
And dare we hope?
We could even wind up with more moderate political leaders who will practice — rather than preach — bipartisanship.
Go to wedrawthelines.ca.gov to view maps of proposed districts and to offer comments to the commission.