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Although Pinal County was not on the first list for hearing sites by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, it was added, and a meeting was held last week. The comments from Pinal residents were thoughtful and no doubt helpful to the commission, and they showed that at least some Arizonans really understand the political process.

As we’ve said before, the congressional and legislative districts drawn 10 years ago have been largely beneficial to Pinal residents, giving them more clout. However, the county has grown tremendously since then, and the comments show a number of things that could be improved. Although Arizona surprisingly is not adding a congressional seat this time, growth in the county should allow some improvements in the form of consolidation of districts.

Northern Pinal residents pointed out how they are divided. This is especially true of San Tan Valley, which is partly in a legislative district that extends into Maricopa County. Anthony Smith, president of Pinal Partnership and a former county supervisor and Maricopa mayor, said having parts of three congressional districts and six legislative in Pinal causes dilution. Current Maricopa Mayor Christian Price called for a more “Pinal-centric” district. That certainly would be desirable and is more likely this time.

Some speakers, including Andrea Varela, called for “unsplitting” Casa Grande, which is in Legislative Districts 8 and 11. That would be welcomed, although the split was worse in an earlier time and there also was a split between congressional districts. Meanwhile, Coolidge Mayor Jon Thompson said his city is happy to be in one legislative and one congressional district. It’s hard to argue with that.

Some called for keeping the Copper Corridor of eastern Pinal and Gila County intact, and former legislator and County Supervisor Pete Rios wanted to keep District 8 competitive. It has been pretty competitive, electing both Democrats and Republicans in the past 10 years, although Republicans lately.

The commission seeks to keep “communities of interest” intact, and the remarks heard in Florence are leading in that direction. That is a good thing.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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