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Santa Clarita Activist to Seek Assembly Seat


Santa Clarita slow-growth activist John Drew announced Tuesday that he plans to run for state Assembly in a new electoral district that would encompass Santa Clarita and parts of the Antelope Valley.

Drew is the first to announce his candidacy in the proposed 36th Assembly District, in which there is no incumbent.

The district was created by a specially appointed panel of three retired judges, who redrew congressional and state legislative districts to reflect changes in California's population documented by the 1990 census. The new redistricting map is scheduled to be adopted by the California Supreme Court next week. The election is expected to take place June 2.

The proposed district would encompass the cities of Palmdale and Santa Clarita, as well as the communities of Acton, Lake Los Angeles and parts of Lancaster. It would contain about 160,000 registered voters, 56% of whom are Republican.

Lancaster City Councilman Arnie Rodio, a Democrat, and three Republicans also have expressed interest in the seat--Palmdale Mayor William J. (Pete) Knight, Palmdale School District Supt. Forrest McElroy and Tom Smith, an aide to Assemblyman Phillip Wyman (R-Tehachapi).

Wyman represents part of the proposed 36th District but is running for Congress. Assemblywoman Cathie Wright (R-Simi Valley) also represents a portion of the new district, but under redistricting would be placed in a Simi Valley-based district.

Drew, a 34-year-old Republican and political science professor, is president of a Santa Clarita citizens group backing a growth-control measure that would allow only 475 housing units to be built in Santa Clarita annually through 2002. The group, Citizens Assn. for a Responsible Residential Initiative on Growth, or CARRING, collected more than 6,000 signatures last fall to qualify the measure for the April 14 ballot.

Drew described himself in a brief interview Tuesday as an environmentally conscious, pro-choice, "slow-growth" Republican. But he would not comment further on his candidacy, other than to confirm that he will run.

Drew, who founded the local chapter of the Young Republicans two years ago, teaches political science at College of the Canyons. In 1988, he ran unsuccessfully on the Republican ticket for the state House of Representatives in Massachusetts.

Opponents of the slow-growth measure have long criticized Drew as a political upstart who is using the slow-growth movement to sweep himself into office.

Drew's press secretary, Chip Meyer, scoffed Tuesday at the criticism. "John has always been very politically involved because he cares," Meyer said.

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