Public Comments to the Independent Redistricting Commission ASAP

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URGENT! CALL FOR ACTION!

Public Comments to the Independent Redistricting Commission ASAP

Phase 2 – New Maps

On Tuesday, the Independent Redistricting Commission listened to public comment and released a new, updated, version 12.1.1 map. It placed Flagstaff into the Tribes proposed map, restored the eastern towns in their own district, kept all of the “copper corridor” intact, addressing the ranching, farming, forest “community of interest” desires of the new district residents. Nearly all of the district is rural as we desired. NOW THE COMMISSION HAS REVERSED ITSELF TO CATER TO SPECIAL INTERESTS…A VIOLATION OF LAW.

FROM GILAGOP CHAIRMAN MORRIS:

Dear Commissioners:

I have applauded the Commission’s  “balanced” work, and the Commission’s focus on the prime directive in the law, complying with the “community of interest” throughout the process. That support ended Friday with the new version 13.1 and 14 maps. With these new maps the Commission is violating their prime directive that requires the Commission to focus on the “community of interest” mandate stated in the law.

At the December 1st public hearing in Payson, the hearing started with ZOOM testimony from 7 members of the Navajo Nation. In each testimony, the Tribe members testifying used the word “republican” in derogatory terms repeatedly and in every case stated the Tribe wanted to “elect the candidate of their choice…” – meaning only a Democrat candidate. The Commission failed to intercede and direct the speakers to comply with non-partisan criteria which they stated at the opening of the hearing. 

Then, Navajo Commissioner Watchman stated to the Commission, “Because we have to consider whether or not including Flagstaff jeopardizes the ability for the Natives to elect the candidate of their choice…”again meaning a Democrat only.

After Navajo testimony, the Commission received the last-minute map submissions of major changes in statewide legislative and congressional districts by the very “political” Latino and Native American Coalitions, which is clearly disruptive to the redistricting process. For the Commission to accept them without vetting their impacts reeks of unethical conduct and politics.  

The last minute13.1 and 14 maps reflect that the Commission is folding to political pressure and the new maps send a wave of changes across all of the state’s legislative and congressional districts, creating major disruptions in the Commission’s work late in the process. 

The Commission is disregarding the more than 350 Gila County area residents who attended the December 1st hearing in Payson. 95 county residents signed up to speak and 90 percent spoke in OPPOSITION to inserting Flagstaff into the new legislative District 7. 

Flagstaff has no “communities of interest” linkage at all to “rural” counties. There are no ranches, farming, or mining interests in Flagstaff. The 12.1.1 map was excellent in addressing rural communities of interest.

Flagstaff has a greater linkage to the Navajo Nation than to any other cities or towns in northeastern Arizona; and further, Flagstaff’s own website brags of the city’s relationship with the Navajo Nation. 

Flagstaff is the commerce and cultural hub of everything north of Interstate 40, including the Navajo Nation. Flagstaff should be inserted into the new District 6 as the reflected in the 12.1.1 map.

Federal law requires (1) the most and least populous districts’ population must be within a small window of just 10%; and (2) maintain majority-minority districts so that they do not “improperly dilute minorities’” voting power” (Voter Rights Act).

The Arizona Constitution requires the committee to favor districts which are (1) geographically contiguous, (2) geographically compact, (3) comprised of a community of interest (a perceived common geographic, political, or cultural boundary), (4) account for political boundaries (such as cities, town, counties), and (5) competitiveness.  

The Commission needs to return to map 12.1.1

The Gila County Republican Party is asking all Republicans to take 5 minutes and call and/or email the Commission and simply state (in your own words) that you are impressed with the new 12.1.1 map, and that you support this version of District 7.

Do it by email or phone (both preferred).

Call (602) 364-0240

IRCAdmin@azdoa.gov or, Google  Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission

Another alternative is to place a comment to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission by clicking on the following link https://irc.az.gov/contact-us 

If for any reason this doesn’t work on your email client, then you must do a two-step process:

  1. First access the AZ Independent Redistricting Commission homepage at https://irc.az.gov/
  2. Then you must click your cursor directly on the “CONTACT US” in the banner headings at the top of the page that takes you to the same email comment fill-in form.  Do not click on any of the three drop down menu options under CONTACT US.

When you go to the email site, it will read “Contact Us – Arizona Independent Commission”

  • Click on the title (It brings up the comment boxes)
  • Fill the boxes and click the green box titled “Submit”.

How to Write Effective Community of Interest Testimony

by Fair Maps Arizona in News. Posted July 13, 2021

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has released official draft legislative and congressional district maps. The commission is requesting feedback from the public to learn what it got right and what it got wrong with these maps. The commissioners are willing to make major changes to these maps before they become final. For Gila County legislative districts we are working with version 10.2

There have been a series of public hearings across Arizona to gather input. Comments are gathered until December 22, 2021. Individuals speaking will be limited to two minutes. We recommend preparing your testimony in advance, and reading it to the commission at the hearing in your area.

When writing your testimony focus on these points:

  • Introduction
    • Tell the commission who you are, where you live, where you work, where your children go to school, where you spend your free time, etc.
  • Body
    • Inform the commission of your communities of interest
      • Examples include your local school district, your zip code, your children’s sports teams, your local church, where you work, and where you live
      • Your neighborhood, your area, and your town are all communities of interest and when practical they should remain whole
    • Tell the commission to follow the constitution
      • Stress the importance of adhering to all six of the criteria laid out in the Constitution
    • Explain that the previous commission was too focused on competitiveness
      • Lumping people who live in completely different areas together in the same district for the sake of competitiveness is wrong
        • People choose where they live for specific reasons and those communities of interest should be respected
      • 49.5% of the population feels unrepresented when the side with 50.5% wins the district
    • If there was a problem, explain what went wrong 10 years ago with your current legislative and congressional district
    • Inform the commission that the previous maps that were drawn did not have equal population
      • Some districts had 12% more population than others
    • Districts should be compact to accurately represent communities of interest who live and work together
      • People choose where to live in our state based on their interests. The commission should respect that
  • Conclusion
    • Convincing the commission you belong to a community of interest that should not be divided is the goal of your testimony
    • Convincing the commission that your community of interest should not be lumped in with other dissimilar communities is equally important

The commission has specifically called these hearings on communities of interest. That is what they are most interested in hearing about.

Please write no more than 300 words. You will be limited to two minutes and it is important to be to the point.

Once you have a draft, send it to our Statewide Director Jay Wilson at jay@fairmapsarizona.org and he will help you finish it up.

If you need more help writing your draft, review the below example of community of interest testimony: [here is an example…use your own words]

Hello, my name is [insert your name here], I live in __________ County, and I am here today to give you information about my communities of interest.

I live off of Broadway and Mill Avenue in Tempe. My community is made up of college students who attend Arizona State University and and young professionals work in offices along the Tempe Town Lake. We also have many people who commute to work in Central Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Mall.

We gather to support local restaurants and arts and entertainment venues on Mill Avenue and at the Scottsdale Mall. We never travel south into Tempe or norther of Camelback Road. The City of Tempe is very different above Broadway versus below Broadway. This is similar to how the City of Scottsdale is very different below Camelback versus above Camelback. Our urban communities are primarily student housing, apartment buildings, and high rise condominiums. This is very different from the suburban single family housing you will find in southern Tempe and Ahwatukee or in McCormick Ranch and North Scottsdale.

Last time around my community was split into two different legislative districts. The commission’s proposed legislative map has followed that mistake again this time around. North Tempe and South Scottsdale should not be split. We are a single community with shared interests and should be kept whole.

Please keep our community whole in a single congressional district as well. We are an urban community and do not want to be added into a suburban district with North Scottsdale or the City of Mesa. Those areas do not represent our values or respect our priorities.

Furthermore, the districts the previous commission drew were not compact, did not have equal population, and were too focused on competitiveness. I do not want that to happen to us again. Please follow the Arizona Constitution when you are drawing districts this time.

Thank you for hearing my views.

Remember to be respectful. Giving testimony is a persuasive exercise. Be respectful to the commissioners and lay out your arguments in a calm and collected manner. The commission wants to hear from you, but will only listen if you are being reasonable. Anger and frustration will turn them off.

For one-on-one help with your testimony, please send an draft to our Statewide Director Jay Wilson at jay@fairmapsarizona.org.

Public comments to the Independent Redistricting Commission Needed ASAP

URGENT!

Public comments to the Independent Redistricting Commission Needed ASAP

Background

The Independent Redistricting Commission is re-drawing Arizona legislative district boundaries based on the new census data from 2020. There are 30 legislative districts in Arizona. Based on census data each district should have a resident population of about 230,000.

The primary goal assigned to the Commission is to develop districts based on “community of interests”. For the new district 7 for the Gila County region, community of interests would be rural communities, ranching, farming, the copper mining industry, forest lands, etc.

The Commission has conducted two hearings in Payson for community input. In the first hearing, Gila County residences strongly requested the Commission to adhere to the “community of interest” goals. And the Commission did so by producing a very acceptable map of the new district.

The Commission held a second hearing in Payson on December 1st where more than 350 people attended! NINETY-FIVE speakers signed up to speak. 90 percent of those stated they supported the Commissions new district map (identified as 10.2). The hearing was the largest turn out and the longest list of speakers in all their hearings

The audience and speakers had learned that the Coconino County Board of Supervisors had passed a resolution to support inserting Flagstaff into the new district. NINETY PERCENT of the speakers adamantly stated they did not want the urban Flagstaff population inserted into the new district! There is no “community of interest” from an urban population entering a rural district.

The Commission disregarded the publics input and inserted Flagstaff into the new district – thus diluting rural community interests at the State Capitol in developing legislation which benefits rural Arizona.

TAKE ACTION!

We are asking Payson area Republicans to call and/or email (both preferred) the Commission to restore the previous 10.2 map and absorb the eastern White Mountain towns into that new district.

 Phone: 602-364-0240

Email: IRCAdmin@azdoa.gov

Click here to comment on the IRC website it will read “Contact Us – Arizona Independent Commission

Click on the title

It brings up the comment boxes

Fill the boxes and click the blue box titled “submit”.

  • State that you are highly disappointed in the Commission’s latest District 7 map of the Gila County region that includes Flagstaff and excludes eastern towns.
  • State that the Commission disregarded the public comments at the December 1st public hearing in Payson where 350 plus residents attended and 95 people spoke AND 90 percent stated they did not want Flagstaff in the new district.
  • There is nothing of “community of interest’ in inserting and urban area into a rural area
  • State strongly that you want the Commission to restore the previous 10.2 map and absorb the eastern towns into that new district

Please consider 2 or 3 other comments listed below. Try to say them in your own words

  • You like that fact that the Commision applied “Communities of Interest” as a priority factor in the 10.2 map.
  • State the state wide mapping models at the Payson meeting looked well balanced and should be adopted.
  • Adamantly state that you don’t want Flagstaff in our district, no demonstrated community of Interest for that move.
  • We don’t support pushing District 7 onto the reservation, there are no “common interests” there.
  • Tell them to please continue their commitment to the six mandates described in law for the map design.
  • Tell them to stay focused on the big picture and don’t get bogged down with low priority issues.

If there is anything you left out of your in-person testimony because of the two-minute time limit, now is the time to add it back in.

For example, if your previous testimony focused on your legislative district, it is important to also submit an online comment regarding your congressional district.

Here’s how to submit a public comment online:

  1. Read our guide on How to Write Effective Community of Interest Testimony [If you cannot access this link, try this one...]
  2. You can review your completed testimony by sending a copy to the Fair Maps Statewide Director Jay Wilson at jay@fairmapsarizona.org
    1. He will reply via email and set up a call with you
    2. He will answer any questions you have
  3. When you have your comment in satisfactory form, visit the commission’s website at the link above, and fill out the public comment form.
    1. Enter your information, copy and paste your comment at the bottom, and hit submit.

Your comment will then be entered into the public record as required by law. Please also comment on our Gila County webpage.

Comment On Draft Congressional Map