Northern Gila County residents, who have long outnumbered the people in southern Gila County, have a rare opportunity this year to shift the uneven balance of county power and we're blowing it.
A Gila County redistricting meeting was held in Payson Wednesday, and only seven people showed up to tell the five-member panel how the lines of the county's supervisor districts should be redrawn.
The 2000 census puts the total population of Payson, Pine and Strawberry at 15,689 and Globe, Miami, Hayden and Winkleman's combined population at 10,757. With those figures, the districts must be redrawn to evenly divide the county's population among its three districts.
For the first time in county history, northern Gila County residents have the chance to demand that the boundaries be redrawn to make two supervisors directly accountable to northern Gila County voters.
The good news is that it's not too late. Northern Gila County residents can send their written opinions to redistricting committee member Phyllis Windle at 1810 W. Fairway Lane, Payson 85541, or call her with questions at 468-8550.
Residents also can attend one of the following three redistricting meetings: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. June 25 at the Hayden Town Hall in Hayden; 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. June 25 at the San Carlos Library in San Carlos and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 26 at the Gila County Courthouse in Globe. County officials must submit a proposal to county supervisors by Dec. 1.
If we miss this chance, we face another 10 years of unfair 2-1 votes for the interests of southern Gila County's petite voting population.