FLORENCE — A Gold Canyon man said half of his subdivision is in state Legislative District 16 and the rest is in District 8. Nick Myers of San Tan Valley said he lives in “the gerrymandering portion of LD 12,” where he’s surrounded on three sides by District 8.
While a state commission assured the public it seeks to keep “communities of interest” intact, it received an earful about how existing state and congressional lines carve them up.
Anthony Smith of Maricopa, president of Pinal Partnership, said Pinal County has three congressional districts and six state legislative districts. This may sound like good representation, but it “somewhat dilutes the voice of Pinal County,” he told the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said he’d also like to see “a more Pinal-centric district” in Congress.
The IRC met July 23 at the Pinal County Administrative Complex, the first stop on its listening tour, in preparation for drawing new boundaries based on new census data.
At least three speakers noted that Casa Grande is split between Legislative Districts 8 and 11. Andrea Varela asked the IRC to “unsplit the community.” Other speakers said state District 16 in Apache Junction includes a portion of Maricopa County, which they said groups constituents with different needs and also causes confusion in political campaigns.
Speakers also talked about how Queen Creek’s Encanterra community is split by Legislative Districts 8 and 16; Saddlebrooke Ranch is split from Saddlebrooke; Gold Canyon is divided by two state districts and two congressional districts; and Florence-Kelvin Highway is a congressional boundary dividing the Florence area between Districts 1 and 4. Anthony Ireland of Apache Junction said District 1, which meanders from the top to the bottom of the state, is “a monstrosity,” and the state can do better.
Neil Carter implored the commission to keep San Tan Valley together in a state district. Donald Hunt Sr. of San Tan Valley said the new maps should reflect “the ‘purple’ nature of Arizona, not a stronghold for either party.” John Dantico of San Tan Valley urged the IRC to draw competitive districts that incentivize both parties “to represent the interests of all the people and not just a small partisan segment of the population.”
Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson was perhaps the most easily pleased person in the overflow crowd. He said the city is happy to be in state Legislative District 8 and Congressional District 1 and asked the IRC “to leave us there.”
Former state Sen. and former Pinal County Supervisor Pete Rios of Dudleyville asked that state District 8 remain competitive, where people of color and minorities have a chance to be elected, and suggested making San Carlos part of the district. He continued that Robson Ranch should be in District 11 instead of 8.
One of the IRC’s goals is to draw boundaries that preserve “communities of interest” that have similar economic interests or social characteristics, have other similar issues or are similarly affected by government policies. These can also include churches, traditions, languages spoken and major employers, within easily identifiable boundaries, according the IRC’s presentation July 23.
After some speakers advocated keeping the Copper Corridor intact, IRC Chair Erika Neuberg asked for a definition. Rios said it’s the network of communities in Pinal and Gila counties that began generations ago as mining camps. It starts in Superior and extends to Miami and Globe. It also reaches south from Superior to Kearny, Winkelman, Dudleyville, Mammoth, San Manuel and Oracle, Rios said.