My Assembly district cuts across two counties, Contra Costa to the north and Alameda to the south, and includes about 80% of Walnut Creek. It is shaped like a toilet or somebody sitting on one.
I mean really, take a look.
It’s an odd shape primarily due to the thousands of acres of open space on and around Mount Diablo.
Fun fact: Mount Diablo offers views of more of the earth’s surface than any other mountain in North America and is second in the world only to Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro.
For those of you aren’t from this district or are from here but never looked out your window, Mount Diablo is that huge mountain and swath of open space north of the straight eastward district line (which is the 580, or the toilet seat) and east of Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, and San Ramon. In other words, the person sitting on this commode would be looking right at it.
Far from being anything like a bathroom stall, our district is beautiful. I know because I have hiked throughout this district and District 14 to our north. I love the trailhead at Sycamore Valley because of its perfectly-sized loop and beautiful park to reward us upon return. On one of my hikes I ran into a herd of cattle grazing on both sides of the trail. I had my daughter in my hiking backpack nonchalantly hiked through, excusing myself and my dog, trying not to startle them since there were calfs nearby. I also run into cattle grazing nearly every time I’m in Briones, which I’ll hike into from the little trailhead near Acalanes High School or the larger one (in District 14) off Alhambra Valley Road.
When I’m not hiking I’ll venture over to Blackhawk Plaza. I appreciate any shopping center with a playground connected to a restaurant and we love that Beep’s Burgers is right next to a play structure with outdoor seating. With so many kids here and new families drawn in for our top-rated schools, it’s not surprising that there would be so many family-friendly community features: parks, splash pads, daycares, and shopping centers with playgrounds.
Demographically, Assembly District 16 is mostly white. In fact, there are twice as many whites in this district as every other ethnic group combined. There is no majority party here, but Democrats enjoy a plurality of registered voters with 41% while 28% are Republicans and 26% expressed no party preference. This large independent voter group explains why our district is the most Democratic seat held by Republican in the entire state. There are about 300,000 total registered voters here.
The problems we face are similar to the other counties in the Bay Area: a lack of affordable housing, which leads to homelessness, deteriorating schools, unkempt streets, and stagnant wages. We want to preserve what makes this area beautiful (open space) while providing the new housing supply we need (and thereby reducing our open space).
These are the problems with no easy answers. This is what I want to spend the rest of my career thinking about. It’s why I want to eventually run for public office.