When the three-member Gila County Board of Supervisors meets in December to decide how the county's districts will be redrawn, the stakes will be high, Payson Mayor Ray Schum said.
Either the Rim country will get the supervisor-representation its growing population deserves, he said, or the bulk of representation will remain in the southern half of the county, where it has been "since the beginning of time."
Currently the southern half of the county is represented by two county supervisors and the northern half of the county is represented by one.
Schum, of course, is hoping for a change especially in light of recent census statistics which show that the voting population of District 1 is 21,844 36.93 percent higher that District 2 and 28.07 percent higher than District 3.
According to the Constitutional and Voting Rights Acts Requirements, "Districts should be substantially (sometimes: reasonably) equal in population" within 5 percent of each other.
Schum decided to take an active role in the redistricting campaign, he said, when he attended a June 20 meeting of the county's redistricting committee, which was attended by just seven people. Still, Schum said, he could see what Payson is up against.
"One of the things I detected was that the majority were from the southern end of the county," Schum said. "They were working very hard in trying to save what they have two supervisors and the county seat to the point where they wanted to put some of their redistricting lines through one of our precincts ...
"It's no fair splitting these communities down the middle of the road," Schum said, "and that was my thought when I came up with what seems to me to be a fair redistricting proposal."
As the districts now stand, District 1 contains Payson, Pine-Strawberry, Star Valley, Whispering Pines and Zane Grey. Schum's proposal is to focus District 1 on just Payson.
District 2 is now comprised of Central Heights, Gisela, Roosevelt, Tonto Basin and parts of Claypool, Globe and Miami. Schum suggests that the lines be redrawn to encompass Pine-Strawberry, Whispering Pines, Zane Grey, Star Valley, Gisela, Young, Tonto Basin, Sierra Ancha, Roosevelt and Canyon Day.
District 3 currently contains Canyon Day, Carrizo, Christmas, Hayden, San Carlos, Sierra Ancha, Winkleman, Young, East Globe, and parts of Globe and Claypool. As Schum re-envisions the district, it would include Miami, East Globe, and the southern ends of Globe and San Carlos. In Schum's plan, the northern sections of Globe and San Carlos would be split between Districts 2 and 3.
"It's all about representation," Schum said. "This way, we'd have majority representation; it's as basic as that. The population has shifted and times have changed."
Phyliss Windle, Payson's representative on the county's supervisoral redistricting committee, agrees that crunching the county's population number a bit more tightly is a top priority if Payson is going to get the representation its population calls for.
Northern Gila County residents can still send their written opinions to Phyliss Windle at 1810 W. Fairway Lane, Payson, 85541, or call 468-8550.