Aug 262011

By Sam Conner–

A group of about 20 persons met with members of the Navajo County Redistricting Committee and other county officials in Winslow on Monday. The audience was informed that the committee had voted to continue considering and working on five maps of representative districts. The committee will meet in September to determine one or two proposals to send to the Board of Supervisors, which must adopt a proposal by Dec. 1. The districts must meet federal guidelines for approximately equal numbers of citizens represented and minority representation.

Marlin Gillespie, who was appointed by Supervisor J.R. DeSpain to represent District 3, chaired the meeting. Deputy Navajo County Attorney Jason Moore explained the maps, which were posted on the walls of the city council chambers. He said that the committee had attempted to keep Winslow in one district and the Hopi Reservation in one district. Other county officials present were Ryan Taylor from Planning and Zoning, secretary Veronica Dale and a translator.

The members of the Redistricting Committee are Robert Black from District 1; Leonard El Tsosie, District 2; Gillespie, District 3; Alice Franco-Anderson, District 4; and Michael Paddie, District 5.

All five of the proposals for which maps were prepared have Winslow in one district. One of the concerns of the Winslow City Council and most citizens was that the city is currently split between two districts. That concern will be addressed if any of the five proposals is adopted, although many in the audience had some concerns about some of the proposals.

Winslow would be in District 3 in two of the maps, along with Snowflake, Taylor and Joseph City. Winslow would be in District 2 in the other three proposals, with the Hopi Reservation in one and with more of the Navajo Reservation and Sun Valley in another. The Winslow City Council was said to have voted in favor of the proposition which put Winslow with the Hopi Reservation and part of the Navajo Reservation. Some in the audience expressed a preference for being with Joseph City, Snowflake and Taylor rather than the reservations.

Gillespie noted that it is virtually impossible to make a proposal which pleases everyone.

Winslow Mayor Robin Boyd said that there has been a huge increase in Anglo population in the Show Low and Pinetop area, which necessitated the changes that cannot be accomplished in very many ways.

It was stated that the Hopi Tribe has not taken an official position, but that there will be a meeting with the tribal council soon. A problem was said to be that the tribal council is not recognized by the villages.

Councilman Thomas Chacon asked what would happen if the tribes will not agree to any of the proposals, but his question could not be answered.

Ken Light asked if there had not been a proposal to create a new county north of the boundary line between most of Navajo County and the reservations. Gillespie said that such a proposal had passed the legislature, but was vetoed by then-Governor Bruce Babbitt.

The maps were left on the walls and were to be there during the Winslow City Council meeting on Tuesday. The audience was told that anyone could go to the county website to see there five proposals and others, and to offer comments and suggestions.