The following is an Associated Press Story released this afternoon.
Lawmaker who voted for current districts backs redistricting
SACRAMENTO (AP) A Northern California lawmaker broke ranks with fellow Democrats on Monday and endorsed Proposition 77, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s attempt to take away the Legislature’s power to draw legislative and congressional districts.
“The only way we’re going to be able to get electoral reform is through the initiative process,” said Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg. “If we fail in this effort we are providing a mandate for those who want to keep the status quo.”
Proposition 77 would give redistricting duties to a panel of three retired judges and require them to draw new lines in time for the 2006 elections. Most Democrats have characterized the measure as an attempt to elect more Republicans, although some Republican congressmen also oppose the proposal.
Paul Hefner, a spokesman for the No on 77 campaign, noted that Canciamilla voted for the current districts, which lawmakers drew after the 2000 national census.
Schwarzenegger has cited those districts, which were designed to maintain the Democratic and Republican balances in the Legislature and California’s congressional delegation, as evidence of the need for change.
Hefner also said the Legislature’s top Democratic leaders had expressed a “strong willingness to pursue real reform as opposed to the power grab that Prop. 77 represents.”
Canciamilla said he was a freshman lawmaker when he voted for the current districts. “I didn’t view it at that time as that big an issue,” he said.
“I was new. I thought that was the way things were done. I didn’t realize how dysfunctional the climate here was.
“The difficult issues that we need to deal with and address aren’t being done because of partisan politics and a lack of open debate. I believe that safe districts and lack of a fair redistricting process help support that kind of dysfunction.”
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