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[whitespace] Fred Keeley Map Quest: Assemblyman Fred Keeley (D-Santa Cruz) is fuming over new district lines on the coast.

Public Eye

Keeleying Me Softly

AS DEMOCRATS continue to tweak the new maps for state Assembly, Senate and congressional districts, plenty of elected reps are unhappy with what's proposed. Eyewatchers will recall that existing lines, drawn after a stalemate brought the matter to the state Supreme Court in 1991, cut each Senate district in half to form two Assembly districts. But this time, mapmakers have abandoned the technique, called "nesting." This means that each Senate district can now contain three, and maybe four or five, assembly districts, which scrambles the usual path of succession for ambitious pols. One of the rawest deals went to Assembly Speaker pro tem Fred Keeley (D-Santa Cruz), who went from being the obvious successor to state Sen. Bruce McPherson (R-Santa Cruz), who is termed out in 2004. Now, Keeley's Boulder Creek address is in Byron Sher's (D-Palo Alto) Senate district, which is populated mostly by voters in Redwood City, Palo Alto and parts of San Jose, plus possibly the worst voter he could imagine: Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who will likely make a bid to succeed Sher. Additionally, the proposed new Senate district would be heavily Republican and stretch south to San Luis Obispo County. All of which has Keeley fuming. "It's broader than getting the McPherson seat," Keeley tells Eye. "The proposal on the table would silence the voices of 700,000 people on the Central Coast, and that's unacceptable. Going back five decades in California, Santa Cruz and Monterey have been in a single Senate district." Keeley met last week to plead his case with Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys) and Gov. Gray Davis, and says he's dipped into campaign funds to pay for full page ads denouncing the proposed districts in the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Monterey County Herald that picture him with McPherson and ex-Clintonista Leon Panetta, who also oppose splitting the two cities by the bay. ... Also: Assemblywoman Rebecca Cohn did not pick up Cupertino, as was reported in this space last week. Rather, draft maps show her losing Cupe, which goes into Elaine Alquist's 22nd District. Eye promises to get its eyes checked.

Candidates and Staffers

Maybe the path to becoming a San Jose City Councilmember starts with working for one. That's what a couple of aspirants seem to believe, anyway. District 7 aspirant Ed Voss is now working for George Shirakawa Jr., the outgoing councilman he's trying to replace, and ex-cop Jim Spence, who ran last year for the District 6 seat, starts next week as an aide in District 9 Councilman John Diquisto's office. ... Spence, who retired as an SJPD sergeant in August, says he approached Diquisto about working in the office. As for his political plans, Spence says he's keeping his options open, although he says he won't be running for the District 9 seat next year. ... Shirakawa says Voss started last week as a three-quarters-time paid council assistant. Shirakawa assures Eye that Voss will be treated like any other staffer. "I needed someone, he was available, and he has experience working with all the community groups." Shirakawa says he approached Voss over the summer, and doesn't see any problem with bringing in a candidate. "It's good timing, and certainly it's advantageous, but I want him to have every advantage he can if he does win." ... Speaking of Voss, Eye reported last week that he had scored new boss Shirakawa's endorsement in the race. But Voss opponent Terry Gregory told Eye Monday that he'd nailed down endorsements from much bigger fish: Rep. Mike Honda, Assemblyman John Dutra (D-Fremont), and councilors Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese and Ken Yeager.

Republican Roster

Eye dropped in on Secretary of State Bill Jones's South Bay campaign kickoff at Bella Mia last week, and if the spread was any indication, Bill's gubernatorial bid is in trouble. Republicans filled the room, but the only things on the table in back were cookies, coffee and water. Given that Jones is still somewhere around the $1 million mark, or about what Gov. Gray Davis makes in annual interest on his $35 million campaign account, maybe it's best Jones didn't splurge on, say, fancy Togo's sandwiches. Jones hammered Davis during his remarks, while at the same time insisting that he wasn't there to take shots at the governor. Jones didn't mention, or even allude to, the name Dick Riordan, the wealthy, moderate ex-mayor of L.A., who could make life very hard for Jones by declaring himself a candidate in the race. ... Also on hand were the South Bay's three Republican sacrificial lambs for next year's congressional races: Tom Grassia, who plans a run against peninsula Rep. Anna Eshoo, Scott Moeller, a Los Gatos high-tech millionaire who wants to unseat Rep. Mike Honda, and Berryessa Union School District Trustee Linda Hermann, who was planning to run against Rep. Zoe Lofgren. Hermann, however, is now in Honda's district, which means she'll either have to face Moeller in the primary or move, which she says isn't an option. On the other hand, Grassia, a 28-year-old network administrator, needs to move into Eshoo's district from his current address in the Cambrian area.

Dando Decides

San Jose City Councilwoman Pat Dando put an end to talk of her mayoral ambitions next year, faxing out a statement Thursday indicating that she didn't have any. The short release also noted that Dando is being approached about bids for the Assembly or state Senate and "has not ruled out the possibility of running for other elected offices in the future." Presumably, the first thing the Almaden Republican needs to do is find out which districts she lives in, once Democrat mapmaking geniuses put the finishing touches on their project. From the looks of the newest state Senate maps, Dando could find herself drawn into the new 15th Senate District, a Republican coastal district stretching from Saratoga to Monterey to San Luis Obispo, which may be good news for a Republican in the heavily Democratic South Bay. ... But right now, Dando says she's starting to look "at opportunities that may present themselves in two to four years." Meaning, she says, Assembly, Senate, county supervisor or possibly San Jose mayor. On her decision not to run for mayor--which some observers say might be a better shot now than in four years when the field is crowded with challengers--Dando says she decided not to run because it's tough to beat an incumbent and because she and the mayor have built a good working relationship.

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From the September 13-19, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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