'The War Is Not Over'

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by Ray Schum

mayor, town of payson

By now, everyone should know that the Gila County redistricting issue is all but over. The present board of supervisors, at its regular meeting Nov. 20, unanimously selected alternate plan No. 2 as its final choice of the three plans that were presented. The plan selected will now be recommended to the Justice Department for approval. If approved, the new district boundaries become effective during November 2002, and new county supervisors will be elected to reflect equitable representation.

While we may have lost this battle, we now take the position that "the war is not over." Beginning now, we should seek and encourage qualified and dedicated candidates to run for county elected positions. With new district boundaries, we should strive to ensure that the county supervisors elected are selected from geographical areas that result in the most equitable representation for all. We should now focus our efforts to ensure that the Payson area is well represented in county affairs. In addition to county supervisor positions, other positions such as county sheriff, superior court judges, treasurer, recorder, assessor, school superintendent, etc. should all be in our sights as well.

Managing County affairs through locally elected officials may be the best, perhaps even the only, way for Northern Gila County to be fairly represented. To dramatize this point, consider the following statistics:

Census figures by district:

1990 2000

District 1 15,454 21,844 (Northern Gila County)

District 2 13,854 13,778

District 3 11,408 15,715

Instead of reflecting changing demographics in the county and the growing population in the north, the new district boundaries will, in effect, move approximately 5,000 voters from the Payson area and include them with Miami and Globe to the south. I believe that we should stand united and by the vote, ensure that our citizens are fairly represented. By so doing, we can win this "war" and ensure that Northern Gila County receives fair and equitable representation by its duly elected officials.

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