Are you ticked off by Bay Area trans­plants now in­flu­enc­ing Cen­tral Val­ley pol­i­tics?

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY RYAN LILLIS rlil­[email protected]

The mass mi­gra­tion of Bay Area trans­plants to the Cen­tral Val­ley is lead­ing to stress on lo­cal ser­vices, a squeeze on avail­able hous­ing and longer com­mute times. But will it also im­pact the Val­ley’s pol­i­tics?

De­spite an in­flux of thou­sands of new res­i­dents from the typ­i­cally-lib­eral Bay Area, the Cen­tral Val­ley is main­tain­ing its mod­er­ate-to-con­ser­va­tive pol­i­tics. That’s left some to won­der whether many of those Bay Area trans­plants are just plain dis­grun­tled with the coastal ide­olo­gies that de­fine Cal­i­for­nia pol­i­tics — and have found a safe haven in places like Modesto.

“There may be a re­vul­sion against Bay Area ide­olo­gies by peo­ple who feel like they’ve been priced out of the Bay and they may have enough re­sent­ment that it starts ef­fect­ing their votes,” said Thomas Holyoke, a pro­fes­sor of po­lit­i­cal sci­ence at Fresno State. “To some ex­tent, the true die-hard lib­er­als want to stay in the Bay Area. If you’re re­ally rich and liv­ing in the Bay Area, you’re fine with the sta­tus quo.”

So what’s both­er­ing th­ese Bay Area refugees and con­vinc­ing them to vote against the coastal pow­ers? For many, it’s a re­sent­ment to­ward the lack of af­ford­abil­ity near San Fran­cisco, a place they once called home. Or per­haps they’ve up­rooted their en­tire fam­ily and moved to the Cen­tral Val­ley, only to dis­cover the re­gion has its own set of prob­lems.

“They’re now liv­ing lives in the Cen­tral Val­ley where poor roads, poor schools and fewer high-pay­ing jobs are a part of ev­ery­day life and they want bet­ter so­lu­tions to those is­sues and I don’t think that’s top of mind to peo­ple who live in the Bay Area be­cause things are just more plen­ti­ful there,” said Kristin Olsen, a for­mer Repub­li­can leader in the state As­sem­bly and a cur­rent Stanis­laus County su­per­vi­sor. “I think peo­ple in the Cen­tral Val­ley feel largely ig­nored by gov­ern­ment.”

The di­vide be­tween Cen­tral Val­ley ide­olo­gies and those found in Cal­i­for­nia’s wealth­ier coastal coun­ties was on full dis­play on Elec­tion Day in Novem­ber.

John Cox did far bet­ter in the Val­ley than just about any­where else in his oth­er­wise dis­as­trous at­tempt to de­feat Gavin New­som in the gov­er­nor’s race. Propo­si­tion 6, the failed pro­posal to re­peal the so-called “gas tax,” was sup­ported through­out most of the Cen­tral Val­ley. An­other propo­si­tion, Prop. 12 — which ap­plies new reg­u­la­tions on farm an­i­mal con­fine­ment — was de­feated in ev­ery Val­ley county be­tween Modesto and Bak­ers­field, while it was strongly sup­ported on the coast.

And some lo­cal can­di­dates who ran on plat­forms of de­fend­ing the “for­got­ten” class in the Val­ley fi­nally broke through.

Ben Cantu, who has been run­ning for of­fice in Man­teca for a decade, was vic­to­ri­ous this year in his at­tempt to win the mayor’s seat. One of his cam­paign prom­ises was to de­fend “For­got­ten Man­te­cans” — those who he said watched as their city rapidly grew in re­cent years, but still deal with out­dated li­braries and wors­en­ing traf­fic. Nes­tled be­tween Stock­ton and Modesto, the city has grown by roughly 18 per­cent since 2010, one of the fastest rates in the re­gion.

“The tim­ing of my cam­paign and the over­all con­di­tion of our re­gion, that res­onated with peo­ple,” Cantu said. “There are politi­cians in of­fice who are ba­si­cally the sta­tus quo. Noth­ing’s changed, noth­ing’s got­ten any bet­ter and (vot­ers) want some­one who makes sense on try­ing to im­prove things.”

Rob Stutz­man, a Repub­li­can po­lit­i­cal con­sul­tant, said it’s un­likely the en­tire Cen­tral Val­ley will re­main a Repub­li­can strong­hold. He noted the vic­tory of Fresno Demo­crat T.J. Cox over in­cum­bent David Val­adao, a Repub­li­can from Han­ford, in their race for the 21st Con­gres­sional Dis­trict. Andy Vi­dak, an­other Repub­li­can, lost his bid for re-elec­tion in the state Se­nate.

Voter reg­is­tra­tion fig­ures re­leased by the sec­re­tary of state show Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans in the Val­ley. In 2010, Repub­li­cans held an ad­van­tage in the re­gion. That could in­di­cate that the new wave of Cen­tral Val­ley Democrats are more mod­er­ate than their coastal coun­ter­parts, based on this year’s elec­tion re­sults.

“I’m not sure it man­i­fests it­self as a Repub­li­can strong­hold, it may be a more mod­er­ate Demo­crat base with Democrats and Repub­li­cans united (on some is­sues),” Stutz­man said.

The gas tax re­peal may have been one of those is­sues. More than 53 per­cent of Cen­tral Val­ley vot­ers wanted to re­peal the tax, in­clud­ing nearly 60 per­cent in Kings, Madera and Tu­lare coun­ties. The propo­si­tion even had sup­port in two Val­ley coun­ties — Fresno and Stanis­laus — where Democrats out­num­ber Repub­li­cans.

How­ever, Prop. 6 was crushed statewide, re­ceiv­ing just 43 per­cent of the vote.

“There are parts of the the state where life is hard — there’s pollution, it’s hot, in­fra­struc­ture is ques­tion­able, there’s poverty and high un­em­ploy­ment — and then you get things like the gas tax, which is com­pletely re­gres­sive,” Stutz­man said. “It’s a pol­icy driven by peo­ple on the coast about what we’re do­ing about climate change, but there’s a price to that and the price to that is go­ing to man­i­fest it­self in the Cen­tral Val­ley and In­land Em­pire (east of Los An­ge­les).”

The Val­ley/coastal di­vide was also ev­i­dent in the gov­er­nor’s race.

Cox was soundly de­feated by New­som — the cur­rent lieu­tenant gov­er­nor and for­mer San Fran­cisco mayor — and earned just over 38 per­cent of the statewide vote as of Thurs­day. How­ever, it was a dif­fer­ent story for Cox in the Cen­tral Val­ley, where he took in more than 53 per­cent of the votes. That fig­ure in­cludes the eight Val­ley coun­ties be­tween San Joaquin and Kern.

Olsen said Cox “made af­ford­abil­ity a cen­ter­piece of his cam­paign and that’s a mes­sage that re­ally res­onates with peo­ple in the Val­ley.” And with many Bay Area refugees mov­ing in­land be­cause they couldn’t af­ford the coast — “it makes sense that af­ford­abil­ity chal­lenges would still be at the top of their minds, even to a higher de­gree be­cause they had to trans­plant their en­tire fam­i­lies,” she said.

With thou­sands of peo­ple mov­ing in­land ev­ery year, the Cen­tral Val­ley is clearly chang­ing. But Olsen and Stutz­man aren’t ready to pre­dict what the Bay Area mi­gra­tion may mean to Cen­tral Val­ley pol­i­tics in the fu­ture.

“Will it start to change our dy­nam­ics over time? I don’t know,” Olsen said.

JOSÉ LUIS VIL­LE­GAS jvil­le­[email protected]

Moona Cavett cod­dles Je­sa­iah Ro­jas, while be­ing held by his mother Ester, as both women filled out their bal­lots on Novem­ber 6, 2018, at the Boathouse at Bridge­way Lakes in West Sacra­mento

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.