While Marin residents got a new state assemblyman Monday when former San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine took the oath of office, they also will get a new state senator due to redistricting.
But for the moment, Marin doesn't have a state senator until the Legislature returns to session after the holiday break.
On Jan. 7 or shortly thereafter, the Senate rules committee will vote to appoint Democrat Noreen Evans as the caretaker representative for Marin and parts of Sonoma County that previously were represented by Mark Leno, a Democrat from San Francisco. Redistricting went into effect on Monday, moving those areas into state Senate District 2. Leno now represents only state Senate District 11.
For the span between now and Evans' appointment next month, we have no state senator.
Teala Schaff, Evans' communications director, said lots of people have been confused by the redistricting switch of all odd-numbered districts this year and even-numbered districts in 2014. With Marin going to District 2, it won't be until 2014 when local voters can cast ballots for a new state senator.
"Right now we don't know legally whether we can reach out to constituents and not be in violation of the law," Schaff said Tuesday. "We are in limbo. It's not seamless, but we're trying to make it that way. If somebody calls the office, we will try to help them. We're in the business of trying to help Californians."
Redistricting in the odd-numbered districts went into effect for the 2012 election cycle. The new even-numbered districts will go into effect for the 2014 election cycle, and the even-numbered districts previously established by the 2001 redistricting will continue to exist until 2014. These strange circumstances create some areas of overlap between the old and new districts (which they're calling “accelerated areas”) and some areas without coverage (“deferred areas”).
Leno wrote to his constituents on Monday and said goodbye to Marin and Sonoma voters. He acknowledged being new to the North Bay when he began running for office but hailed Marin's "incredible beauty and rich resources" and said "Marin and Sonoma were a revelation in their diversity."
"I will dearly miss working directly with you and advocating for the issues we care about," Leno wrote. "... From the thriving agriculture industry in West Marin, to the spectacular fields of grape vines lining Highway 101, I have loved connecting with all of the different towns, cities and areas that make up my spectacular district."
Schaff said the Evans staff would work closely with the Leno staff through the transition period. "We'd like to legally reach out to the voters but there are rules about how elected officials can reach out to them," she said. "We are trying to be very cautious on how we do that. This is new to us."
Evans is a former Santa Rosa City Council member and state assemblywoman who has represented all or parts of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties in the Senate since 2010.
Evans, whose website does not yet reflect the addition of Marin to her district, has a doctoral degree from the McGeorge School of Law at the University of Pacific and a bachelor's in government from Sacramento State. She lives in Santa Rosa and has three children.
Evans can be contacted at (707) 576-2771 or Senator.Evans@sen.ca.gov.