by Donald Evans
The Gila County seat of government historically has been located in the southern geographic portion of the county. Virtually all major county government infrastructure and citizen resource centers are in the Globe/Miami areas.
Based on the last population census, the northern Gila County communities of Payson, Star Valley, Pine, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, and Punkin Center have experienced a population and building explosion that continues. Yet, the southern half of our county retains two supervisor districts to one supervisor district for northern Gila County, which has the majority population and representation need.
Current county department-head positions are almost exclusively staffed by residents of southern Gila County. These positions represent the highest tax-based salaried positions available in Gila County government. This is relevant, in that our rural county employment opportunities are limited. County government and related departments are the largest employers. Northern Gila County residents are disenfranchised from having any relevant impact on the allocation of county tax-based dollars due to the stranglehold maintained by the two district county supervisors 2 and 3 and the nexus that exists with the lopsided staffing of necessary county infrastructure.
One need only look at the actual location, size, staffing, and quality of county public facilities to see that Payson and northern Gila County are being neglected by the current system of supervisor district boundaries and its political incest. A realignment of the supervisor districts to better reflect the representation and equity of the majority northern Gila County population is long past due.
What boundary lines would you like to see used in your area and why?
I would suggest that the redistricting proposal as submitted by Payson Mayor Ray Shum be adopted. This will give equity of county government representation to all the residents of Gila County. It will remove the political disparity that the current districts impose. Politics aside, realignment of the current districts or the addition of two new supervisor positions for northern Gila County are easily justified no matter how you look at the demographics. Should these suggestions fail the criteria to be imposed, relocation of the Gila County seat to Payson would be a possible viable and fair solution.