Pinal County Board of Supervisors submit new boundaries to DOJ
by: Terrance Thornton
Moving from three to five supervisor districts, the unanimous vote came during the Oct. 19 meeting of the governing board.
The Department of Justice will scrutinize the map — vetted by various public meetings and online comment — to ensure the proposed boundaries of the political districts comply with the Voting Rights Act, Pinal County officials say.
Bruce Adelson, CEO of Federal Compliance Consulting, was hired by the county for $25,000 to aid in the redistricting and drawing of the proposed maps, according to Pinal County officials.
Upon receipt of the redistricting packet there will be a 60-day waiting period before county officials are given permission to move forward with proposed boundaries, according to Heather Murphy, Pinal County spokeswoman.
The 2010 Census found that Pinal County‘ s population is at 375,770, which, by state law, stipulates the county must add two new supervisors to its governing board, according to Queen Creek/San Tan Valley Independent archives. The change from three to five supervisors will occur in 2013 following the November 2012 elections and within that change resident and municipal concerns had risen and been addressed, Pinal County officials contend.
The sent- off map coined 3A went through minor boundary amendments during the Oct. 19 meeting.
“I think it is a good product given the constraints of the voter majority,” Bryan Martyn, board of supervisors member, said in an Oct. 26 phone interview of minoritymajority population breakdown requirements. “Overall, I am pleased, we listened to the public.”
Supervisor Martyn’s district encompasses Apache Junction, Gold Canyon and much of San Tan Valley.
According to Supervisor Martyn, two concerns raised by Queen Creek officials and San Tan Valley residents were addressed in the amended map sent to the Department of Justice.
“In reviewing Pinal County’s proposed district options, the town’s incorporated boundaries are not divided into different districts... However, options one and three do divide the town’s most-northern planning boundaries into a different district,” Queen Creek Mayor Gail Barney said in an Oct. 6 letter to Pete Rios, board of supervisors chairman.
Supervisor Martyn said the need was addressed during the amendment vote.
“One of them was the town of Queen Creek wanted to try and keep their planning area under one supervisor. We heard, and in fact, I was at the meeting where they publicly discussed it,” he said. “ We addressed it immediately and was able to accommodate the town of Queen Creek.”
Leo Guilmette of San Tan Valley expressed concern over boundaries drawn despite the stark contrast in some areas of his community.
“ The balance of the San Tan Park precinct is ‘horse lots’ with unpaved roads, opinions and attitudes vastly different from the developments,” he wrote in Oct. 20 email to Steve Kizer, Pinal County Elections Department director. “Perhaps this was the design, but the ‘horse lot’ people have no interest in being a part of the future San Tan Valley community.”
Supervisor Martyn says he sees future concerns emerging from the drafted boundaries.
“One of the stories coming into this is the community of Little Mexico,” he said of an area within San Tan Valley with a high density of Hispanic residents. “It is a high level of need for the county and that did not make it into the San Tan Valley district.”
The issues facing Little Mexico are very different from those facing surrounding portions of San Tan Valley, Supervisor Martyn says.
“Just as I want to make sure the representative that comes out of the Gold Canyon and Apache Junction (district) is familiar with the need,” he said of the diverse needs throughout San Tan Valley. “ The supervisor who represents San Tan Valley is going to have to work hand-in-hand with the other supervisor to make it work.”
But for San Tan Valley and Little Mexico the newly drawn boundaries support democracy and create an even voice of representation to the about 80,000 who call the area home.
“It’s a good thing; you know? The representative closer to the people is better,” he pointed out. “It is good that San Tan Valley will have their own representative because they will have their own issues.”
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