Arizona’s Independent Redistricting Commission is working on redrawing congressional and legislative districts as it does every 10 years, this time slowed by a pandemic-caused delay in census numbers. The current system began in 2000 after voters created it and is an attempt to make the process less partisan. It nevertheless cannot be completely that, and it usually is criticized and also sued by one party or the other, feeling that party has been shortchanged. But the process is more fair than the old one, which was done by the Legislature.
Ten years ago the commission held many hearings, and they were in all parts of the state. With the pandemic, people are more accustomed to meeting virtually, and that may lead to fewer hearings. But in-person hearings are important. The preliminary list does not include any sites in Pinal County, something that is touching a nerve with residents in the third most populous county. The panel may have felt that Pinal is close enough to the metro areas, but in-person hearings certainly are important if they are physically possible.
A commission spokeswoman responded quickly in a news report, calling the hearing schedule “very tentative” and “far from final.” The tentative schedule obviously was intended to create a debate about where the hearings would be held, and that certainly will not be the last debate in this process.
Pinal County has grown tremendously in the last decade. Although the congressional and legislative districts drawn 10 years ago provided more influence and less splitting for Pinal than previously, that should be further improved this time. As always happens, congressional candidates are getting ready to run without knowing what the districts will be for some time. It seems likely, however, that a Pinal resident could be in the U.S. House.
The election season never really ends, and with redistricting, that certainly is true this year.
— Donovan Kramer Jr.