Fair Senate Map … San Diegan Gil Ontai hits 9th inning Home Run at State Redistricting Commission this week — Oh Doctor !

Jim Sills Jim Sills Leave a Comment


Three on, two out, bottom of the 9th.  The Chris Kehoe-Toni Atkins team is 1 out away  from sewing up the 39th for another decade.  Staff-drawn maps will keep it a One Party district.  That’s when Gil Ontai, Lone San Diegan on the state Redistricting Commission came to bat …  and hit a rocket over the 3rd deck. 

Scoring ahead of him on the Epic Blast were  Rancho Bernardo,  Mira Mesa,  and  Penasquitos names that are “freighted with nothing but trouble” for Toni Atkins’ campaign in 2012 .  The practical result?  A Toss Up  district where  Republicans have a  50-50  chance to beat Atkins in 2012  and  flip  this seat back to the GOP.  (Republicans held the 39th SD for 23 of the 27 years between 1962 and 1989.)

For months Ontai fought a patient battle to unite Asian-American  and Pacific Islander areas of East San Diego and Linda Vista, with those further north in Mira Mesa.  State staff resisted at every step, but Ontai won respect from fellow Commissoners, and they finally accepted his key arguments when the rubber met the road.


Here is a summary of the neighborhoods within the new 39th State Senate district and their general political affiliations based on past election returns and anticipated reaction to likely nominees:

Lean  Republican:  (17) Rancho Bernardo,  Point Loma, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, Clairemont, Bay Park, Rancho Penasquitos, Mira Mesa,  Serra Mesa, Del Cerro,  Tierrasanta, Navajo, La Jolla, University City, Fairbanks Ranch, Carmel Valley, Coronado.

Lean Democratic: (13) Linda Vista,  South Park, Oak Park, Normal Heights, North Park, Hillcrest, Mission Valley, Mission Hills,  Downtown, Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, College Area, Del Mar.

The election breakdown here is substantially between North of  I-8  neighborhoods (Republican) vs. the communities South of  Interstate 8 (mostly Democratic).


Here at the  Rostra Institute for Election Studies, we laughed out loud as commission staff  and  consultants tried discouraging Ontai with active/passive tactics.  Boy, did they pick the wrong guy for that!  Gil Ontai is a longtime successful S.D. architect, a  planning commissoner and CCDC board member.   Like all good architects, he thinks ahead and stays with a plan once drawn.

They had two chances to discourage him, the proverbial Slim and None.  And “Slim” just moved to Bullhead City  (wherever that is).


The State Redistricting Commisson has taken its share of criticism, but in San Diego we can point to multiple new “competitive” districts in which the voters will choose the politicians,  not the other way around.   The principal reasons for that are Gil Ontai’s willingness to (a) travel  to distant meetings and (b) patiently educate a few Sacramento Know-it-Alls.  They will long remember that winning home run disappearing over the  Western Metals Building.

Take a bow for all of that,  Mr. Ontai.  And you can Hang a Star on that Baby!


[Hat Tip to Matt Rexroad for the baseline map on which this graphic is based].


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