CASA GRANDE — The latest maps drafted by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission include major changes for Pinal County and represent a shift from earlier maps to try and avoid splitting up municipalities.
The latest maps, released Tuesday by the IRC, are not final and will be continually adjusted, but they represent the latest templates for the redistricting process.
The congressional district map would have Pinal County mostly contiguous but extending east to New Mexico, combining portions of Graham and Greenlee counties. Earlier drafts showed a district almost entirely comprised of Pinal County by itself.
The state legislative district draft fixes previous issues with dividing cities like Casa Grande. In the latest draft, Casa Grande and Eloy are now whole and united within a proposed district while Maricopa is in another. Florence and Coolidge are now part of a proposed district with unincorporated San Tan Valley.
Currently, Pinal is part of Congressional District 1, the 11th largest district by size in the country, which extends all the way up to the Four Corners region of the state.
According to Andrea Varela, community outreach coordinator for Rural Arizona Engagement, the commission has not yet sufficiently addressed concerns about representing minority communities.
This is despite recent comments from Chairwoman Erika Neuberg defending the commission’s public hearings process.
Varela said much of Monday’s meeting discussion was about how to keep tribal nations contiguous and how many majority-minority districts to create. Then, on Tuesday, the commission got more into the minute details of the maps themselves.
Varela said one concern is that the commission members were over-reliant on the mapping consultants for guidance.
“The commission is the body there to make the ultimate decisions,” Varela said. “They are the ones who need to determine which communities should not be divided. The mapping consultants shouldn’t be inserting themselves.”
Despite noting the meeting discussions were “interesting,” Varela said that the process was still inaccessible for the general public.
“It’s important for the public to see the evolution of these lines being drawn,” Varela said. “But the public hearings still aren’t being held in communities of color, or rural communities, and or in times and places accessible to those who work during the day. But it’s still early.”
Varela did say RAZE was pleased with how many members were engaged or following the process.
So far, 37 members of the public have submitted their own proposed maps for the commission to consider as part of the drafting process. Further adjustment of the draft maps is expected to be presented at the IRC’s regular meeting next Tuesday.
The IRC will hold its next public hearing at 4 p.m. Thursday in Surprise.