By Linda Kor–
Meetings are being held throughout Navajo County to obtain public input regarding the redistricting of the Supervisorial and the Navajo County Community College District election districts to balance their populations after the 2010 Census.
The need for changes in the boundaries of the districts is due to increases in the county’s population. The county now has more than 107,000 residents, an increase of 10.2 percent since 2000. The county’s Native American population grew about 1.4 percent to 46,483 persons, and the Hispanic population grew 44.4 percent to 8,011 persons.
During a meeting held Aug. 17 at the Board of Supervisors Chambers, only five Holbrook residents attended who were not part of the committee, including two councilmen, the mayor and two other individuals.
Marlin Gillespie, the advisory committee leader for District III, conducted the meeting. He informed those present that changes in the districts are not allowed to be greater than a 10 percent deviation and it is preferred to be around five percent.
Maps posted at the meeting were samples of those submitted by citizens for consideration. Those maps generally showed very little change to Districts 4 and 5 in the south county, with changes in District 3 to include moving Holbrook into District 2, and others that left Holbrook in District 3, but put Winslow and Sun Valley into District 2. Each map showed substantial changes to Districts 1 and 2, primarily due to the increase in the Native American population in the northern portion of the county.
Gillespie clarified that those maps were just for review and no selection has been made as of yet. “These are just tentative maps that can change and become different,” he explained, adding that anyone can create a map for submission on the county’s website at no cost.
To gain a better understanding of where the boundaries are currently and what possible changes can take place, the county created a free interactive redistricting map that anyone can participate in, create a plan for redistricting boundaries and submit for consideration by the redistricting committee at any of the public meetings. To learn more about the map and find the latest redistricting news, visit www.navajocounty.gov and click the link labeled “Redistricting.” The site also shows redistricting proposals from the public and provides the opportunity to sign up for e-mail updates.
Additional information on the website states that there are three criteria that must be maintained when sorting through the redistricting process. First, each supervisor/community college district should have a population close to the “ideal” district size of 21,490 persons; second, as much as possible, districts should be geographically compact and connected; and third, current Districts 1 and 2 have the largest minority populations, mainly Native Americans, but there are some Hispanics in District 2. Both districts need to be made larger in total population, but in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act, the new versions of those districts should not significantly reduce the proportions of voting-age minority residents.
The Winslow City Council has approved a resolution stating it wants all of that city to be in one district. In addition, the towns of Taylor and Snowflake have approved a resolution stating that they would like both towns to be in the same district, which would move Taylor from District 4 to District 3. The Hopi Tribe may also submit a resolution stating that it wishes to have all its tribal members in one district.
“If the City of Holbrook has a preference, they can make a resolution of preference so we know what they’d like. All five of the county supervisors have indicated they would like their residence to remain in their district for obvious reasons. So far, we are able to accomplish all of these preferences,” stated Deputy Navajo County Attorney Jason Moore.
Meetings have been held at 12 designated sites and each location will host one more meeting before making selections.
The advisory committee will make its final selection of two or three maps on Sept. 25 for submission to the Board of Supervisors. After reviewing those selections, the board will choose one map to submit to the Department of Justice by Dec. 3 for final approval.
Photo by Linda Kor
Holbrook Councilman Wade Carlisle, Mayor Jeff Hill and Councilman Bobby Tyler (standing left to right) attended a redistricting meeting Aug. 17 in order to learn more about the redistricting of the Supervisorial and Northland Pioneer College Governing Board districts. Also participating in the discussions was Holbrook resident Frank Lucero (seated).