With the 2000 census numbers now in, Gila County is gearing up to redistrict as required by federal law.
The three county supervisors will each recommend a resident from their respective districts to serve on a special redistricting commission, Gila County Elections Director Dixie Mundy said. "We haven't had any meetings as of yet, but we have until Dec. 1 to have our redistricting plan approved."
A tentative letter of agreement also has been signed with Anthony Sissons of Phoenix-based Research Advisory Services, Inc.
"If the supervisors approve the agreement, he will assist us in the preparation and actual drawing of the boundaries," Mundy said. "He has done this for many years and is very familiar with Gila County."
Census results indicate that District 1, which encompasses most of the Rim country, now has 21,844 residents. Districts 2 and 3 to the south have 13,778 and 15,713 residents respectively. Mundy said that federal law requires the new districts be within 10 percent of one another in population.
"Our goal will be to get them within 5 percent, and that's harder than it might seem," she said. "The ideal balance would be 17,112 citizens in each district."
Once the redistricting commission is selected, a series of public meetings will be held. "We will post and advertise the meetings as soon as we know when and where they are going to be," Mundy said.
Meanwhile, the two remaining supervisors are turning their attention to the appointment of a temporary successor to Gila County Dist. 2 Supervisor Edward G. "Bunch" Guerrero, who died April 28 at the age of 68.
"They wanted to wait until after the funeral service to start working on a replacement," County Administrator Steve Besich said.
"As it currently stands, when we meet on May 31, (Dist. 1 Supervisor) Ron Christensen and (Dist. 3 Supervisor) Cruz Salas will have some discussions about the procedures they want to follow," Besich said. "We'll have that on the agenda for information, for discussion and for possible action."
One option under consideration, according to Besich, is to "accept applications for a week, take a week to think about it, and then put it back on the agenda." Whoever is appointed will serve until Dec. 31, 2002.
"That person will have the option to run in the primary in September 2002, but then would have to run again in two years."
Besich said so far nobody has expressed interest in the position "directly to me."
Guerrero, who died after a long bout with cancer, was in his fifth term as county supervisor.