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Redistricting commission eyes late July start to statewide tour

If all goes according to plan, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will begin its statewide "listening tour" in late July and end in early August, shortly before it expects to get the census data it needs to begin drawing congressional and legislative maps.

Under a schedule the commission reviewed at its weekly meeting on Tuesday, the first date on its tour would be July 22 in Maricopa County and it would end the tour Aug. 8 in Pima County. The schedule calls for 15 meetings in 12 counties, most of which would include satellite locations for people in rural areas who aren't able to attend the main meeting in person.

"We now have a pretty good number and a nice distribution around the state, which is what we were hoping to do," said Democratic Commissioner Shereen Lerner.

AIRC Chairwoman Erika Neuberg said the schedule is close to being final, but some locations haven't been locked down, so it's still subject to change.

The tentative schedule calls for 15 meetings in 12 counties:

  • Thursday, July 22: Maricopa County
  • Friday, July 23: Casa Grande, with satellites in Sacaton and Winkelman
  • Saturday, July 24: Maricopa County
  • Sunday, July 25: Maricopa County
  • Tuesday, July 27: Prescott, with satellites in Cottonwood and Sedona
  • Wednesday, July 28: Kingman, with satellites in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City
  • Thursday, July 29: Flagstaff, with satellites in Tuba City and Page
  • Friday, July 30: Show Low, with satellites in Holbrook and Kayenta
  • Saturday, July 31: Window Rock, with satellites in St. Johns and Alpine
  • Sunday, Aug. 1: Payson, with satellites in Globe and San Carlos
  • Wednesday, Aug. 4: Yuma, with satellites in Parker and San Luis
  • Thursday, Aug. 5: Nogales, with satellites in Benson, Sierra Vista and Douglas
  • Friday, Aug. 6: Safford, with a satellite in Clifton
  • Saturday, Aug. 7: Tucson, with a satellite in Sells
  • Sunday, Aug. 8: Tucson

Weekday meetings are tentatively scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., and weekend meetings are expected to begin at 9 or 10 a.m.

The commission hopes to glean input and suggestions from the public during its listening tour on where people think the new district lines should be, what they liked and didn't like about the current districts, and what they want their districts to look like. Perhaps the AIRC's top priority is learning what people consider to be their communities of interest, a term used to describe any grouping of people with common interests or needs, or have some common bond.

A community of interest can be a racial or ethnic group, a faith community, a group of people who use a particular service or facility in a community, such as a park or a school, a geographic area, a group of people who use a particular transportation corridor, or a group of people who work for the same entity. Respect for communities of interest is one of the six redistricting criteria in the Arizona Constitution.

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"For the listening tour, the biggest thing is getting the community of interest input back from the community. That is all about what communities should be put together and why," John Stroud, a consultant with the AIRC's mapping consultant, the Timmons Group, told the commission at its June 15 meeting.

This report was first published by the Arizona Mirror.

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