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By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror
The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission made its first staffing decision and saw its first notable partisan split, hiring Brian Schmitt, chief of staff to a Republican Phoenix City Council member.
Schmitt, who has spent nearly the past decade as chief of staff for Phoenix City Councilman Jim Waring, was selected on a 3-2 vote on Tuesday afternoon. Independent Chairwoman Erika Neuberg joined Republican commissioners David Mehl and Doug York in voting to offer the position to Schmitt, while Democrats Shereen Lerner and Derrick Watchman opposed him.
“I know that this was hard. There were people of multiple perspectives. In terms of going back in the history of our state, with soliciting opinions from all sides with who could represent us from an honest perspective, as a staff member — not as a voting member who will have no say in the lines of the districts — I feel that, with the checks and balances, and the information that we received, I’m very comfortable with this choice,” Neuberg said after the vote.
Thus far, the commission has been staffed by personnel from the Arizona Department of Administration, while the Attorney General’s Office has provided legal counsel. Schmitt’s selection as executive director marks the AIRC’s first step toward becoming an independent and self-sustaining entity.