Mayor Unhappy With Redistricting Decision


Payson Mayor Ray Schum is not happy with the redistricting plan they chose or with the Gila County Board of Supervisors for choosing it.

In rejecting the mayor's plan in favor of one of the alternatives Tuesday, the northern part of the county has been effectively disenfranchised Schum believes.

"Instead of recognizing the shift in growth from the south to the north, they've just shifted that growth back to the south," Schum said. "They've moved about 5,000 voters right out of the Payson area."

Plan 2, the one chosen from three finalists by the board, separates the Tonto Apache Reservation and Star Valley from Payson by placing them in District 3. It also separates Payson's Precinct 2 from the rest of the town by placing it in District 2, which, Schum points out, "ends in the Miami area, about 85 miles away."

The mayor's plan would have created two "urbanized" districts the Payson and Globe areas and a third rural district made up of the rest of the county.

According to Beverly Hawkins, assistant elections director, Plan 2 was selected because it is the easiest to implement.

"We wanted to stay away from splitting precincts because that is confusing," Hawkins said.

Schum not shocked

The decision did not surprise Schum, who said the board had its mind made up even before it appointed a redistricting committee to select the finalists.

"The board comes out looking clean by saying this is what the committee wanted," he said. "But look who appointed the committee."

Schum was also frustrated that the board did not allow him to speak after he had traveled to Globe for the meeting.

"They acknowledged my presence in the audience," he said, "but they wouldn't let anybody say anything on the subject."

Schum vowed to continue the fight for fair treatment on other fronts. "We lost this battle, but the war is not over," he said.

The board voted to implement the new districts Nov. 27, 2002. According to County Administrator Steve Besich, implementation was delayed until after next year's elections to avoid disenfranchising some voters and allowing others to vote twice.

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