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Concerns Over Redistricting

Message from Carl Taylor, Coconino County District One Supervisor:

I wanted to make sure that you are aware that the County supervisorial districts have to be redrawn as a result of the census results.  This is a requirement of the Dept. of Justice and is quite involved.  Salient guidelines are as follows:

1.  Draw districts of equal population.  A deviation of up to 5% is allowable, but less is better.
2.  Do not dilute the voting strength of racial and/or language minority groups.
3.  Preserve communities of interest.
4.  Districts must be compact and contiguous.
5.  Maintain traditional geographic and political boundaries.
6.  Do not create a substantial, long-term negative effect on a specific political party.
7.  Base the new plan on existing districts, to the extent possible.
8.  When drawing district boundaries, take into account current incumbents.

Our County staff and Supervisors have spent considerable time wrestling with this.  The single largest problems we face are caused by the substantial out-migration from the Navajo and Hopi people – resulting in little or no growth in District 5 (Supervisor Lena Fowler) and to a less extent in District 4 (Supervisor Mandy Metzger).  On the other hand, District 3 (Supervisor Matt Ryan) had very substantial growth – approximately 30% and thus must shed voters.

Unfortunately, we cannot just transfer precincts between 5 and 3 because they are not contiguous.  The result is that every district has to be redrawn in order to transfer enough population to District 5 – while trying to follow the above guidelines.

We have created 3 scenarios (imaginatively called A, B and C) which appear to be within the DOJ guidelines in terms of acceptable impact on minorities, etc.  Some transfer very substantial portions of existing districts – especially District 1.  Careful review is required to understand the potential transfer of precincts within the City of Flagstaff.

We are inviting public review and input on these three options – which you can examine at the County Admin Building or find on the County website (www.Coconino.az.gov/redistricting).  Please pay particular attention to the potential impacts on your precinct in deciding which, if any, of these options that you prefer.  It is also OK to say that you do not like any of them.

I am the primary author of one of the options, which I would be happy to disclose if you wish; but, in any event please take a look and let us know what you think.  The Supervisors are divided regarding their preferences and public input will be helpful in clarifying which of these redrawn districts would be preferred by their constituents.

We are under time pressure on this, so your quick review and response will be most helpful.

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