|New county district map given federal approval|
|Written by Greg Ruland|
|Monday, 12 December 2011 08:00|
U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division officially approved the controversial supervisory district map drawn by Yavapai County Board of Supervisors after a contentious hearing Aug. 22.
The map creates five new supervisory districts in Yavapai County, which means the number of supervisors elected to the board will go from three to five after the election Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2012.
Federal approval of the map in November was helped along by Federal Compliance Consulting of Maryland, a law firm hired by the county in 2010 to assist with the redistricting process. The $85,000 budget for the consultant proved to be a prudent investment.
Consultants helped with complex statistical and demographic analysis of the county’s voting history as part of the redistricting plan submitted to the Department of Justice, County Administrator Julie Ayers stated in a memo to supervisors.
Lines that once drew three supervisors’ districts were redrawn as five to accomplish several constitutionally required goals, Ayer said.
The map created districts that are relatively equal in population. It did not dilute the strength of minority voters.
Advocates of the map, like District 1 Supervisor Carol Springer, argue it adequately takes into account other constitutionally required criteria such as compactness, contiguity and respect for political subdivisions and communities of interest.
Others, like District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis, argued the map ignored the will of the people who attended meetings over several months, completed surveys and otherwise participated in the process.
Under the approved map, reformed District 3, a 429-square-mile district of 43,600 people, includes Jerome, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Verde Villages, Sedona and Village of Oak Creek in the same supervisory district.
Reformed District 2, a 2,068-square-mile district of 41,300 people, sweeps in Page Springs, Cornville and Camp Verde, communities formally represented by Davis in District 3.
The new District 2 also includes a large section of Prescott Valley along with communities in the far southeastern parts of the county, including Black Canyon City, Crown King and Mayer.
The split ignores views expressed by the majority of people who spoke up at meetings, Davis said after the vote.
Of the 483 completed surveys received during the public process, 46 percent favored Map C, and 21 percent favored Map A. No survey favored the map chosen because it didn’t exist at the time the survey was conducted.
Of the municipalities that passed resolutions in favor of one map or another, five voted in favor of Map C and four voted in favor of Map A. None voted in favor of the map chosen because it didn’t exist at the time the votes were taken.
Of the special interest groups, like chambers of commerce and regional councils, none voted in favor of the map approved.
Despite these objections, the map conformed to the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, according to the Department of Justice.