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Assemblyman Richard Pan is packing his bags in hopes of staying put.

The Sacramento Democrat said today that he has decided to move into a newly drawn south Sacramento Assembly district to seek a second term in the Legislature next year.

Pan characterized his decision as a return to a part of the county where he lived for about two years. He resided in Sacramento's Pocket area from about 1998 to 2000 after moving to California from Boston in 1998, he said.

"I believe that people, when they go to the voting booth, they're looking for someone who will work effectively in the Capitol to represent their community, to represent them -- and that's what I'll do," Pan said.

Pan's current Assembly District was redrawn recently by California's citizens redistricting commission, placing the pediatrician and freshman lawmaker in the same district as Democratic colleague Roger Dickinson for next year's election.

By moving from North Natomas, Pan will avoid a high-powered political showdown with Dickinson and seek an open seat - the 9th Assembly District - that stretches from south Sacramento through Elk Grove and Galt to Lodi.

Elk Grove Councilwoman Sophia Scherman, a Republican, also has expressed interest in the seat.

Pan said the new south Sacramento County district is a good fit for him partly because many issues he has tackled as a lawmaker and pediatrician -- from expanding children's health care to promoting job creation -- impact residents throughout the region.

Pan is targeting a seat that tilts more to the left than the one he holds now, the 5th Assembly District, which represents a largely suburban area from Folsom to North Highlands and Granite Bay.

Heavy spending from the state Democratic Party and labor-funded committees helped Pan overcome a Republican registration advantage of 2 percentage points to beat Andy Pugno in last year's election.

Pan's victory was one of two Assembly races last year in which Democrats captured a seat previously held by a Republican. Pan succeeded termed-out Roger Niello of Fair Oaks.

In his freshman year at the Capitol, Pan - who turns 46 on Friday - crafted legislation recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown that will require newborns to be screened for a fatal disease, Bubble Boy Disease, and will ban stores from selling expired baby food and over-the-counter drugs.

Pan said he probably will search for a home in the Pocket area, where he lived previously. He has no plans to sell his current residence in North Natomas.

"I think we have time to work all those things out," he said.

Pan's decision leaves Dickinson as the only incumbent running in the Sacramento-based 7th Assembly District.

Another local Democrat, Assemblywoman Alyson Huber of El Dorado Hills, saw her Assembly district redrawn in a way that gives Republicans an overwhelming advantage in voter registration. She no longer will represent portions of Elk Grove and Lodi, for example, when her current term expires.

Huber, who is eligible to run for a final Assembly term next year, has decided not to move into the south Sacramento County district -- she grew up in Lodi -- for a ballot-box showdown with Pan.

"I have enjoyed representing Lodi and Elk Grove in the state Assembly and will continue to fight for this area through the remainder of my term," Huber said in a written statement. "Dr. Pan would do a great job representing these diverse communities and I plan to help him in any way I can."

Huber is weighing other options for next year's election, including the possibility of seeking an open seat in a newly drawn Assembly district extending from Citrus Heights south to the communities of Herald and Clay.

* Updated at 10:20 a.m. to include quotes from Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento.
* Updated at 11:20 a.m. to add quote by Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills.


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