Lawmakers settling in to new offices

By Sean Janssen, The Union Democrat January 15, 2013 10:36 am

Recently elected and assigned federal and state representatives for Tuolumne and Calaveras counties are covering a lot of ground in reaching out to new constituents.

Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, State Sen. Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, R-O’Neals, each have a district and accompanying responsibilities stretching from the foothills east of Sacramento as far south as the rural eastern reaches of Fresno County.

 

Having an expansive geography is not new to McClintock, a longtime state legislator first elected to the U.S. Congress in 2008, but much of the territory in the 4th District is. The district formerly reached north to the Oregon border from the foothills of Placer and El Dorado counties but, as redrawn in 2011, it exchanged those northern lands for much of the Central Sierra south of those suburban population centers, including Tuolumne and Calaveras counties.

McClintock’s district office director, Rocky Deal, said the congressman’s staff spread out to make contacts across the new territory shortly after McClintock was sworn in Jan. 3 at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Between the Nov. 6 election and that date, McClintock still formally represented the old district, and Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, remained the Mother Lode representatives. Congressional rules prevented McClintock from spending any district funds in the new parts of the district until the 113th Congress had been seated, Deal said.

McClintock will maintain in his district office in Granite Bay. He will continue to have one to two “town hall”-style meetings at various locales in the district each month as well as one to two days of mobile office hours at a central location in each county every month, Deal said.

“Wherever the local electeds tell us is the best place to reach out to constituents,” he said, which in many cases is a county Board of Supervisors chambers.

McClintock also hosts tele-town halls, Deal said, about every other month, where a random sampling of district voters will receive a call about 6 p.m. welcoming them to engage in an hour-long session including opportunities to pose questions directly to the congressman.

He also attempts to accommodate as many speaking engagement requests for local organizations such as chambers of commerce and veterans groups as possible, Deal said, citing a Jan. 24 Mariposa Chamber of Commerce function as an example.

A McClintock town hall had been scheduled for Jan. 30 in Angels Camp that may be rescheduled in Sonora for late this month or February. The McClintock staff canceled the Angels date so as not to conflict with the annual Calaveras County Chamber of Commerce dinner across town.

“We want to get a maximum number of people who are interested to attend,” Deal said.

Berryhill represented Tuolumne and Calaveras counties in the Assembly for six years before his 2010 election to the 14th District seat that covers Tuolumne. When redistricting left Calaveras without a senator, the Senate Rules Committee assigned its constituent duties to Berryhill earlier this month. He has indicated he will run for re-election in 2014 in a new 8th District that includes both counties.

With district offices already in Modesto and Fresno, Berryhill wasted little time in establishing another in Jackson to reach out to newly assigned foothill constituents.

The office is a joint venture with Bigelow, staffed by Dana Jorgensen, who is familiar to many in the region as a former staffer for senators Rico Oller, Dave Cox and Ted Gaines.

“We feel very fortunate to have Dana on staff. He has a long and varied resume of representing elected officials in this area of the state,” Berryhill said in a prepared statement. “His experience is parallel to none and I look forward to working with him to best represent the citizens of these communities.”

Bigelow is a freshman assemblyman and he has been in contact with McClintock and Berryhill in regards to the challenges and opportunities related to covering so much ground, said Kirk Kimmelshue, his chief of staff.

“Assemblyman Bigelow, Senator Berryhill and Congressman McClintock have a very cohesive relationship,” Kimmelshue said. “We all have very large districts and share strategies for serving the respective communities.”

Kimmelshue said Bigelow will soon add a Madera office to the one in Jackson and mobile office schedules are in the works. The assemblyman has also set up a Twitter account @FrankBigelowCA.