Wesley Chesbro announced Monday he is running for re-election to the State Assembly in 2012 in a reconfigured North Coast district that plunges deeper into Sonoma County as a result of redistricting.
The announcement, which Chesbro made at a pair of Labor Day gatherings, was widely expected.
Chesbro, a 60-year-old Democrat from Arcata and former Humboldt County supervisor, has represented much of the Assembly District since 2008, and if reelected, would be termed out in 2014.
Currently, he represents the 1st Assembly District. But next year it will be called the 2nd District and will be substantially revamped at its southern end — adding more than half of Santa Rosa but losing Sebastopol and Lake County — while the northern portions of Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties remain unchanged.
"I'm going from a district where the two largest cities were Windsor and Eureka to the largest city being Santa Rosa, so it does shift the character somewhat," Chesbro said Monday.
Overall, however, the district remains an overwhelmingly rural and mountainous one, with vast stretches of redwood forest and picturesque but isolated and economically challenged coastal communities. Chesbro's home is a five-hour, 300 mile drive from Sacramento.
He announced his intentions at the North Bay Labor Council's Annual Pancake Breakfast in Santa Rosa and the Mendocino County Democrats' Annual Labor Day Picnic in Redwood Valley.
"It has been my honor to serve the residents of the North Coast and if I am able to earn their votes again in 2012, I will continue to work hard for them as their representative in the Second Assembly District," Chesbro said in a statement. "I will continue to fight for working families, rural communities and small businesses and to protect public education, child care, law enforcement and access to affordable health care, as I have throughout my service in the Legislature."
Chesbro said representing Santa Rosa won't be new to him because he did so during twoterms in the State Senate from 1998 to 2006. He said he has a "very comfortable relationship" with Santa Rosa. His brother lives there and he has a district office there, he said.
After the Assembly session ends next week, Chesbro said he intends to spend some time in the city reconnecting with residents, city leaders and businesses owners.
The new district will include 94,000 Santa Rosa residents, or 56 percent of the city. Overall, 199,000 Sonoma County residents will be in the new district, or 41 percent of the district total.
Asked about the tension that at times divides local city politics between those interested in economic development and those concerned about quality of life and environmental issues, Chesbro said he believes both can survive side by side.
He noted the county has long had a leadership role in the recycling and solar energy industries.
"I think we can have a green economy that will put people back to work and will be sustainable environmentally in the long run," Chesbro said.
Asked about potential challengers, Chesbro said he hasn't heard of any, but notes they have until the end of the year to file.
"I never take anything for granted," he said.
What marijuana legalization means
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, which will appear on the November ballot, would:
Allow people 21 and over to possess, transport or give away an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six plants at home for personal use.
Require all plants or marijuana in excess of an ounce to be kept locked up and out of public view in or outside a person’s home.
Prohibit smoking or ingesting marijuana in any place open to the public.
Set no limit on the size of a commercial marijuana garden.
Allow cities and counties to ban any type of cannabis business and to prohibit outdoor but not indoor residential cultivation.
Set a 15 percent sales tax, in addition to existing sales taxes, on all marijuana sales, plus additional taxes on commercial cultivation. Local governments could impose taxes, as well.