Redistricting shakes up state Senate and Assembly in Kern County

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Dec. 23—Kern County's state representatives could look very different following the approval of new district boundaries by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission earlier this week.

The commission approved big changed to Kern's eastern Assembly and Senate districts, which are currently represented by Republicans. In both instances, the districts now swoop upward past Kern's north border into Tulare County.

State Sen. Shannon Grove's, district, which had previously encompassed much of rural San Bernardino County, now ends at Kern's eastern border and juts north into much of Fresno County.

Asm. Vince Fong — whose district had been contained in Kern County, but included north and west Bakersfield along with Ridgecrest, Tehachapi and rural western Kern County — includes Visalia and much of the mountainous areas of Tulare County.

Neither Grove nor Fong could be reached for comment Wednesday.

Still, some community advocates celebrated the new maps, which were drawn using data from the 2020 Census. The Dolores Huerta Foundation called attention to the two Senate districts in the Central Valley that were designed to align with the federal Voting Rights Act, which protects the ability of minorities to elect candidates of their choice, along with four Assembly districts.

"We are particularly excited for California City, Mojave, Rosamond and the Antelope Valley, communities championed by the Dolores Huerta Foundation's Chapters of Vecinos Unidos (Neighbors United), who will finally have representation," the organization said in a news release. "New districts that range from Merced to past Victor Valley show great promise for transformative change in representation for all people of color and the poor and disenfranchised of any race/ethnicity."

Even Democrat state incumbents have seen their districts shaken up. Although Asm. Rudy Salas has said he will not run again for his current position as he seeks a seat in congress, his district will change substantially.

He previously represented Hanford and Lemoore, along with southeast Bakersfield, but under the changes the new district cuts off at Kern's northern border and includes more of metro Bakersfield.

Former Republican consultant Tony Quinn, who has significant experience with redistricting, had several issues with the maps approved by the Redistricting Commission. He particularly took issue with the Congressional district represented by McCarthy, which has long arms reaching to Lemoore and Fresno.

"The Vince Fong district has a lot of the same problems as Congress," he said of the district's extensions, "but the Salas district is fairly rational."

Sen. Melissa Hurtado, however, will also see a big change. Her district, which had stopped at Fresno, now extends all the way up to Merced. That makes her a potential competitor for Sen. Anna Caballero, a fellow Democrat who has a residence in the city.

Earlier this week, a representative for Caballero told Fresno-based news outlet GV Wire the state senator was reviewing her options for the next election.

The Californian could not reach Hurtado for comment Thursday. She also has not spoken publicly about redistricting.

The Redistricting Commission must present a report to the Secretary of State by Dec. 27.

In the next year, voters will feel the impact of redistricting for the first time. Thousands of Kern County residents will have a new representative, bringing about the possibility for new faces in the state Legislature.

Sam Morgen can be reached at 661-395-7415. Follow him on Twitter: @smorgenTBC.