Flashpoints emerge as Arizonans lobby redistricting commission for changes

Members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission hear public testimony during a hearing at the Mesa Convention Center on Aug. 9, 2021. /Photo by Jeremy Duda /Arizona Mirror

By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

After weeks of hearings on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission’s draft maps of its proposed legislative and congressional districts, members of the public have no shortage of gripes about how the lines are drawn or suggestions on how to make them better.

Various hotspots have emerged as points of controversy since the AIRC began its mandatory 30-day public review period on Nov. 6. Among them: How many legislative districts Gilbert should be split into, whether the northern and eastern outskirts of Tucson should be drawn into a safe Republican district, whether the Verde Valley should be joined with Flagstaff or Prescott, and whether the commission should create an additional legislative district that is predominantly Latino.

The final meeting of the public review period will be on Saturday. Next week, the commission will return to the business of drawing the maps — adjusting the boundaries of its proposed districts based on the testimony they’ve heard throughout the past month.

Many people urged the AIRC to make specific changes they’d like to see, such as moving the boundaries of a Scottdale-based congressional district out of central Phoenix, adding neighboring areas into a majority Native American legislative district or keeping the West Valley’s Sun Cities together.

Others have more general complaints, especially regarding competitiveness. Dozens of members of the public have lobbied the commission to create more competitive districts — only six of 30 legislative districts qualify as competitive under the AIRC’s metrics — which has long been a rallying cry of Arizona Democrats who hope that competitiveness can help them take control of the legislature for the first time since the 1960s. But few have proposed explicit changes that would make districts more competitive, indicating they’d rather the commissioners simply figure it out for themselves. 

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