The supervisors’ appointment of six residents from the south part of Gila County and only three from northern Gila County to the redistricting committee will be revisited at its meeting March 15 meeting.
“Following in-depth discussions about appropriate representation of county residents, it has been determined that the number of Redistricting Advisory Committee members should increase from nine to twelve,” wrote elections director Linda Eastlick in the documentation for the agenda item.
District One Supervisor Tommie Martin, who represents the majority of northern Gila County, said she hopes the change will make it possible for three more Rim Country residents to be named to the committee — and three more alternates.
Martin can name one resident to the committee, plus an alternate, and so can both Supervisors Mike Pastor and Shirley Dawson.
The boundaries for Pastor’s and Dawson’s districts are drawn in such a way that both represent northern Gila County residents, so they could select their added choices from the area. Neither chose to name northern Gila County residents during the first selection process March 1 — Dawson did name a Star Valley citizen as one of her alternates.
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said on Thursday that Pastor and Dawson should have appointed committee members from the portions of their districts in northern Gila County.
“We live in a county that’s stuck in yesteryear and that’s sad,” said Evans. “What seems skewed is that two supervisors would choose to appoint all three representatives from the southern ends of their districts. I can’t believe they can pretend they only represent voters from the south end of the county.”
Evans has previously said Payson will file a lawsuit if the board of supervisors ends up approving district lines that don’t reflect the district’s population distribution.
Supervisor Martin discussed the matter at the March 10 meeting of the Citizens Awareness Committee at the Payson Public Library.
She said any residents who would like to be considered for appointment to the committee must have their completed applications into her Payson office by noon, Monday, March 14. Martin’s office is at 610 E. Highway 260. Application forms and information can be picked up at the office or downloaded from the county’s Web site: gilacountyaz.gov.
Officials from northern Gila County have been sharply critical of the redistricting committee appointments.
The committee will be responsible for several months of work to redraw the boundaries for the supervisor, community college and vocational education districts.
Martin said the initial meeting of the committee is planned for Tuesday, March 22 at the county’s maintenance yard east of Star Valley.
A time had not been set as of press time.