The Gila County Board of Supervisors dove into all things redistricting, tackling three agenda items on the topic at its Sept. 21 meeting.
Prior to the meeting, the Roundup asked each supervisor if they would like the boundaries of their district to be redrawn or remain the same, and the reason for their position.
District One Supervisor Steve Christensen replied, “Although I don’t want to lose any more of my district, District One, I believe it’s inevitable. District One has grown (in population) over the last 10 years, while the other two districts have shrunk slightly. This is according to some preliminary (census) figures. One thing I did learn was that any adjustments of the boundaries within the district must encompass complete and full precincts.
“It appears that the list of candidates for the redistricting committee that we will be appointing on Tuesday is very balanced politically. We have a good balance of Republicans, Democrats, and independents, the team should not have political slants or prejudices, as a whole, and so I’m encouraged how this committee is shaping up, and I’m excited to watch the process move forward. District One is the smallest district geographically and is likely to shrink even more geographically. But I think that’s going to be necessary because it will become more out of balance, population wise, as we continue growing in the future.”
District Two Supervisor Tim Humphrey, chair of the BOS, said, “If the districts need to change to better represent the people, I am OK with that. We will see how population has changed in different areas and adjust as necessary.”
District Three Supervisor Woody Cline said, “I don’t have a problem at all if my district boundaries remain the same. My district is the largest geographically, and it has presented some challenges, but I have enjoyed those challenges.”
Naming the redistricting committee was one of the three items. The committee will organize two public meetings to give residents the opportunity to make suggestions on district boundaries and then create a series of maps to submit to the supervisors for approval.
Candidates for appointment to the committee were:
District 1 — Robert Hershberger, Democrat; Jim Muhr, Republican; Carla Raymond, independent; Gerald Woodward, independent.
District 2 — Alfred Guerrero, independent; Bill Marshall, Republican; Jose Medina, Republican; Judy Moorhead, Republican; Michael Pastor, Democrat; Sherry Rice, independent.
District 3 — Maria Brazil, Democrat, changed party in 2020; Bernadette Kniffin, Democrat, ran for partisan office in 2020; Tanner Hunsaker, independent; Mary Marshall, Democrat; Mickie Nye, Republican; Larry Stephenson, Democrat.
Mary Springer, Gila County finance director, led the supervisors through the redistricting agenda items. She said, “I was asked by the county manager to help with the redistricting process since I am part of his Administration Team. I am also working with Deputy County Manager Jacque Sanders, Election Director Eric Mariscal, and our two contractors Mac Feezor and Bruce Adelson. It takes a team of people to engage this process so I was lucky enough to be asked to help.”
She told the board that the committee guidelines require a candidate to have been continuously registered with the same political party or registered as unaffiliated with a political party for two or more years immediately preceding appointment. This disqualified Maria Brazil from serving on the committee.
Another guideline states, “Within the three years previous to appointment, members shall not have been appointed to, elected to, or a candidate for any partisan public office, and shall not have served as an officer of a political party, or served as a registered paid lobbyist or as an officer of a candidate’s campaign committee.” Due to this, Bernadette Kniffin, Democrat, who ran for partisan office in 2020, was also disqualified.
Selected by the supervisors to serve on the redistricting committee were:
Robert Hershberger, Jim Muhr, Carla Raymond, Gerald Woodward, Alfred Guerrero, Jose Medina, Judy Moorhead, Sherry Rice, Tanner Hunsaker, Mary Marshall, Mickie Nye, and Larry Stephenson.
Selected as alternates were Bill Marshall and Michael Pastor.
Another redistricting agenda item included a resolution to revise the Guidelines and Redistricting Principles regarding the Gila County Redistricting Advisory Committee, which the BOS approved.
The application package approved in August had conflicting information and the dates in the selection guidelines also did not agree with the timing of the release of the census data. The revised selection guidelines correct the inconsistencies, typographical errors, and dates to coincide with this redistricting advisory committee selection process.
The final redistricting item approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Gila County Provisional Community College District to allow the Redistricting Advisory Committee to conduct the public participation process and review the college district boundary maps submitted by the public and determine the final submittals to propose to the GCPCCD for final review and approval.