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The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has released grid maps, its preliminary attempt at new congressional and legislative districts for the next 10 years. These are done with the idea of advancing the discussion on what changes are needed. But they also show the growing size and clout of Pinal County. Actually, there’s much to like in the grid maps even though they need modification.

The congressional map essentially has Pinal County as a district, with the addition of Queen Creek, which is partly in Pinal anyway, and a chunk of Pima County, including parts of Marana and north Tucson. The legislative map puts most of Casa Grande in with Eloy, eastern Pinal and a small part of Pima County. Most of Maricopa is with Coolidge, Florence, Apache Junction, Superior and part of San Tan Valley. Parts of Casa Grande and Maricopa are in the other city’s district, something that seems switchable. Gila County is gone from the Pinal legislative districts, and northern Pinal is not split off in another congressional district.

County and city leaders know the recent census was flawed, with possibly as many as 80,000 people not counted. That number is greater than the size of Pinal’s largest cities. That is difficult to change, but nevertheless, the county is much larger than it was 10 years ago. That means there is less need to carve it up in the redistricting process.

Hearings now will be held, and there is much work to be done before the process is complete near the end of the year. Public meetings start Tuesday, and the only one in Pinal County will be at noon Thursday at the Radisson Hotel (formerly Holiday Inn) in Casa Grande. It actually is a satellite site for a Scottsdale meeting.

Citizens should take an interest and consider speaking up. The process is proceeding quickly and will be over soon. But the potential is there for a good outcome for Pinal citizens.

— Donovan Kramer Jr.

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