Vice mayor: Plan reduces Black influence
By Dustin Gardiner
The Arizona Republic
Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Johnson has reignited the fight over Phoenix’s new council district boundaries by asking federal officials to reject the map over concerns that it disempowers Black voters.
Johnson submitted a letter to the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice protesting the map because he says it was not publicly vetted and reduces the voting power of African-Americans in District 8, which he represents. The south Phoenix area has elected a Black council member for decades.
Much of the dispute involves boundary changes in the downtown core. The council in June adopted a map that left many of the area’s economic and cultural assets, such as US Airways Center and the CityScape office and retail development, in Johnson’s district.
But the council scrapped that map last month when it voted 6-3 to approve an alternate proposal brought by Councilmen Sal DiCiccio and Michael Nowakowski. The two argue that downtown should be split into two districts. Johnson was irate over losing parts of the area to Nowakowski’s District 7.
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