Friday, July 16, 2010

What Could Happen to the 18th Assembly Seat

By Steven Tavares

The 18th Assembly district covers San Leandro, Hayward, Dublin and parts of Castro Valley and Pleasanton. Those areas will obviously still exist, but the seat currently held by Mary Hayashi may not after the Citizens Redistricting Commission is finished redrawing the landscape of the California Legislature.

Advocates of taking the Legislature's power of gerrymandering away and giving it to the people will point to the crazy-quilt borders of 18th district as evidence of the gridlock in Sacramento and redistricting meant to preserve the status quo. For instance, despite widespread dissatisfaction with the Legislature and constant bipartisan battles over its woeful state budget, not one seat has changed hands in either the Assembly or State Senate.

A seat from the 18th will likely look vastly different than it does today or even cease to exist. This dilemma has a few possible suitors for the seat waiting on the commission's finding to make a slew of political calculations.

By 2012, term limits will preclude Hayashi from running for her seat (presuming she beats her youthful Republican opponent Michael Havig this November.) Most say her political aspirations run further than the Assembly. She could have two options: wait until state Sen. Ellen Corbett terms out of office and run for her seat in 2014 (again, assuming Corbett wins in November) or aim higher. Hayashi is one of many said to have interest in snapping up Rep. Pete Stark's spot in Congress once his time in Washington ends. She has told insiders one of her goals is to become the first Korean-American member of Congress, but her political moves are often times difficult to assess.

Earlier this year she set off a mini-commotion among local politicos when she moved from Castro Valley to Stonebrae in the Hayward Hills. Some believed she was making a calculated move for the future. Eyebrows were then raised widely when rumors began swirling Hayashi's new home was not within the boundaries of the 18th making her candidacy this year ineligible for the ballot. It turns out her Stonebrae home sits just a few homes within the district. Others contend Hayashi recent move is designed to give her more options later. Sources say she is renting her previous home in the Palomares Hill development in Castro Valley to an aide.  In addition, they believe Hayashi is renting the home for a below-market rate--a possibly severe ethics violation, if proven.

What happens to the 18th in 2012 may depend on whether the strong likelihood the commission cobbles either Fremont or areas further east of Dublin and Pleasanton or even both scenarios to the existing district. Two possible Democratic candidates for the seat could be Hayward Councilmembers Bill Quirk and Olden Henson. Quirk, who is a Hayashi acolyte, said Tuesday he is definitely eyeing the seat, but is waiting on the commission's findings. For both Quirk and Henson or any other Democrat who enters the fray, the inclusion of the more voters from the slightly more conservative Tri-Valley area could be the deciding factor.

"If you add voters from Fremont to Hayward, San Leandro and Castro Valley, that's a solid Democratic seat," said Quirk. "But if you add voters from Dublin and Pleasanton, then you might have a Democratic tossup." He also adding he would not encroach on a seat held by new Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski in Fremont 20th district. No matter how the political redrawing of California falls in place, the political aspirations of many across the state will lie at the mercy of the 14-person commission.


  1. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 16, 2010 at 4:42 PM

    1: Someone other then Quirk and Henson should run for that seat. One needs to remind folks what city they serve and re-call what was said about Kevin Dowling when he ran for Supervisor. The Democratic party should not elect any local council members for this seat.

    2. Castro Valley isn't a strong Democratic voter; Mr. Quirk is ignorant in saying that.

    3. This won't affect Mary Hayashi; nothing does. She will run for Starks seat in 2012 if it's vacant or wait for Corbetts seat in 2014. Corbett is better suited for Starks seat; assuming his wife doesn't grab it.

    4. Why do you have to start my weekend off with reminding me of Mary Hayashi.

    5. I should keep my eyes on this one.

    6. Please remove that phony picture of Hayashi and see #4 above.

  2. A Concerned VoterJuly 16, 2010 at 5:09 PM

    This article is missing a key point. Where does Dennis live? CV, Hayward, the doghouse?

  3. Come on corrupt Dems. Let us gerrymander a Republican district in the Tri-Valley. And mother-f Fortney.

  4. It's not ethical to rent her house in the hills to her aide. He can't afford fair market value with his salary.

    Dennis is all alone in Hayward. Mary is in Sac. Fishy, that one.

  5. This story has some factual errors.

    - State legislative seats have changed party hands recently. For example, in 2008 the Democratic Party gained three Assembly seats and one Senate seat. One of the Assembly seats which changed hands was the 15th, portionse of which are in the Tri-Valley and Alameda County.

    - It is impossible for the 18th Assembly District to "cease to exist". California has 80 Assembly Districts and 40 Senate Districts, and the Citizens Redistricting Committee cannot change that.

    I'd also quibble with some of the analysis and assumptions made by the author and others. The East Bay Counties are not only heavily Democratic, but trending more so. This is one of the chief reasons that Joan Buchanan took the 15th back for the Dems.

    It would take quite a set of extraordinary gerrymands for any of the cities of the current 18th to reside in redrawn Districts which would be anything other than heavily Democratic.

    I believe your average citizen, the type which voted for the Proposition which created the Citizens' Redistricting Committee, wishes for the CRC to create contiguous Districts which have sensible geographical boundaries. Unfortunately, they will not be able to accomplish increasing the competitiveness of Districts in most regions of the State with sensible boundaries.

    For example, I'd concede that there is no way that the northeast portion of the State could become Democratic unless the Districts were drawn in a highly unusual manner.

    Besides its appearance of corruption, the others problem with gerrymandering a District is that the citizenry of the District will grow and change; eventually the District will both look silly and become uncompetitive.

  6. A recent breakdown showed that Castro Valley has:

    50% Democratic Party registration
    33% Republican Party registration

    The entire unincorporated Eden District was even more extreme in its imbalance:

    54% Democratic
    22% Republican

    This does go a long way in explaining ex- Assembly candidate Terry's view of the "facts", though.

  7. Nick,

    Why do you feel that "the Democratic party should not elect any local council members for this seat"?

  8. Nicholas, not NickJuly 18, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    I was sitting on the toilet after writing thinking, Doug Jones is geekishly looking up statics right now.

    Well put Knight Hawk.

    To answer your question.

    Because they need to elect someone that can do better then what they've done and better then the person they are replacing. It's time for change.

  9. Anybody but Quirk. Hayward has had some growth- may stay as center of 18th. I think it is more likely that 18th will pick up rest of CV and Fairview. Dublin and rest of Pleasanton may go to 15th.

  10. Nicholas E. TerryJuly 20, 2010 at 9:51 AM


    And to think, I'm moving...interesting.