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Outside help needs to understand county before drawing lines
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Thursday, 23 December 2010 10:34

Yavapai County has grown since the last census, despite an economic downturn, and now it is feeling the growing pains.

The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors authorized $85,000 to be spent on a Maryland consulting firm hired to help the county redraw its district lines.

County Administrator Julie Ayers predicts the county outgrew the three-district model and will be forced to divide into five districts instead once the 2010 Census results are released.

Ideally, those of us in the Verde Valley would like to see two districts on our side of the mountain and three on Prescott’s side.

Yavapai County District 3 Supervisor Chip Davis currently stands as the lone Verde Valley representative on the board. Supervisors Tom Thurman and Carol Springer have not been known to blackball the Verde Valley when it comes to approving Verde Valley items that come before them, but their interests do rest with their constituents on the other side of the hill.

If there are going to be five districts, it would be nice if Davis received a little help.

Ayers predicted in November the population of the Verde Valley won’t be large enough to support two districts. Law requires all districts in a county be similar in size with regard to population.

She said a portion of the Verde Valley will likely be grouped with communities from the outside.
Where those lines are drawn will affect county residents forever, and it’s important it be done correctly.

Bringing in outside help may be necessary. Redistricting doesn’t happen often in small-growing rural areas so it’s not surprising the county doesn’t have the staff to do the job completely in-house.

Bringing someone in from the outside, however, and from as far away as Maryland, also presents challenges. It’s important the consultant does not just look at a population map and start drawing lines.

He needs to study the county, community by community, and understand the culture of each area when it comes to conservation, way of life and future economic plan. Many factors other than population density need to be considered.

Redrawing the lines will be a tremendously demanding job completed in a relatively short period of time, which means everything possible needs to be done to make sure it is done right.


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