FLORENCE — Trusting that a pending state law will give them more time to draw new Pinal County supervisor districts, county staff plans to present new boundaries to the Board of Supervisors in June 2022.
Prior to that, citizens will have the opportunity to offer input in public meetings in late 2021 and early 2022. The board must adopt final maps by July 1, 2022.
The board adopted a set of principles to guide the redistricting process Wednesday. A public website on Pinal County’s redistricting process is scheduled to go live next month.
Pinal County' districts now include:
District 1 (Riverside, Oracle, Coolidge, Florence, part of Eloy)
District 2 (San Tan Valley)
District 3 (Casa Grande, part of Eloy)
District 4 (Maricopa, Arizona City, Saddlebrooke)
District 5 (Apache Junction, Gold Canyon)
Tami Ryall from the county manager’s office told the board that census data was originally supposed to be available at the end of April but is now delayed until the end of September. The county originally planned to propose new districts by Dec. 1, which would only give county staff two months to develop maps based on census data.
County staff asked the County Supervisors Association to propose legislation to extend the deadline to July 1, 2022. The bill appears headed for approval and “I think we’re going to get our extension,” Ryall told the board.
The delay in census reporting is the result of the pandemic and prioritizing delivery of apportionment results. Unlike with previous censuses, the Census Bureau will deliver the data for all states at once. The Census Bureau said in a news release the goal is “to deliver complete and accurate redistricting data in a more-timely fashion overall for the states.” The next board election is in 2024.
To preserve the “one person, one vote” requirement of the U.S. Constitution, any jurisdiction that elects public officials must readjust its boundary lines after every federal census to re-equalize the population.
Supervisor Jeff Serdy, R-Apache Junction, noted the old districts don’t have equal population, with District 2 in the San Tan Valley area having grown out of proportion with the rest of the county.
Supervisor Kevin Cavanaugh, R-Coolidge, suggested the county obtain some private data on population growth and begin sketching out new districts “to get ahead of the curve.” The county already knows the shapes of the census tracts and can use them for a guide as well, he said.
The new districts must be “relatively balanced on population,” within 10% of each other, Ryall said. A district may appear odd-shaped for this reason, plus the goal of not splitting census tracts. Further, the county should take care not to split up communities of interest, Ryall said.
Cavanaugh said Florence and Eloy are already split by supervisor districts. Ryall said the law still prefers keeping communities of interest intact. This was one of the redistricting principles the board adopted Wednesday, along with:
- Representation: Each district has a substantially similar number of people.
- Compactness: There should be a minimum distance between all parts of a constituency, for example in a circle, square or hexagon.
- Contiguity: All parts of a district must be connected at some point with the rest of the district.
- Preservation of political subdivisions and communities of interest.
- Preservation of cores of prior districts as previously drawn, to preserve continuity of representation. New districts should also avoid creating contests between incumbents.
- District lines should not intentionally or unduly favor a person or political group, or create a “safe” district for a certain party.