The Gila County Board of Supervisors is coming up against redistricting deadlines. At its Jan. 18 meeting it is expected to make a decision on guidelines for selecting a redistricting committee.
The supervisors began the process of redistricting in December in a meeting with special consultants Bruce Adelson of Federal Compliance Consulting of Maryland and Tony Sissons of Research Advisory Services of Phoenix. The two made a detailed presentation on redistricting.
The county must redistrict after every census, using the data collected to make sure its districts have an equal number of voters.
While the county’s detailed census information is not yet available, it still must get a citizens committee in place to make recommendations on new boundaries of the three supervisor districts.
Once a committee is selected, it will have to be trained about the restrictions and requirements under which is must operate. Chief among these is not diluting the votes among the county’s larger minority populations.
Working with the supervisors, county staff and the consultants, the committee will:
• Determine the population, race and ethnicity in current districts;
• Determine the size of population shifts necessary to equalize districts;
• Determine the minority race proportions in each current district;
• Determine the permissible population movements necessary to equalize district populations without diminishing minority voting strength.
The process also involves reaching out to community leaders to educate them about what must be done, learn their expectations and encourage their participation.
There will also be workshops with the public about the process and to get its input.
Following outreach work with community leaders and residents, the committee and consultants will prepare three or four alternate plans for the supervisors’ district boundaries. These will be published for review by residents and a second round of workshops in each district will be held to refine the proposals. A final plan will be prepared and published, providing another opportunity for citizen comments prior to the formal adoption of the new boundaries.