Only a small number of Northern Gila County residents attended a special meeting on redistricting Feb. 10.
Held at the Payson office of District One Supervisor Tommie Martin, about a dozen residents participated.
The county’s redistricting consultants, Bruce Adelson of Federal Compliance Consulting of Maryland, and Tony Sissons of Research Advisory Services of Phoenix, along with Linda Eastlick, director of the Gila County Division of Elections, made presentations. Adelson and Sissons gave overviews of the redistricting process.
They shared the principles guiding the process:
• New districts should be substantially equal in population and
• Not harm minority voting rights.
Those are the only two absolute requirements; then there are principles to be applied “to the extent practicable”: new districts should be compact, contiguous, preserve communities of interest and respect political subdivisions.
Additionally, the following principles may be made a priority by the county supervisors: preserve the cores of prior districts; politically competitive; not split existing voting precincts or census tracts; and use visible geographic features in determining boundaries.
Whether the new districts protect incumbent elected officials is also at the discretion of the supervisors.
Each supervisor will appoint three members to the citizen redistricting committee. Martin said she thinks it would also be a good idea to have at least one alternate named by each supervisor.
Citizens interested in being considered for appointment to the committee must have their applications submitted by 5 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 22. The applications are available at Martin’s office, 604 E. Hwy. 260, Payson, or they may be downloaded from the county’s Web site: www.gilacountyaz.gov.
The goal is to have the committee’s work completed by late summer or early fall and approval by the Department of Justice by the end of December.
To meet the goal, the committee could meet up to three times a month early on and then have one or two meetings closer to the conclusion of the process. The committee will also have two public meetings in each of the three supervisor districts.
The committee will also be responsible for drawing new boundaries for the five Gila Community College districts and the county’s two vocational institutes of technology — Northern Arizona (NAVIT) and that serving southern Gila County.