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Guest opinion

Proposed redistricting diminishes clout of Southern Arizona voters

We are long-time organizers and community leaders from Southern Arizona. We love our state, and the wonderful people who live here. And we hail from diverse backgrounds – Latino, White, people with disabilities, Jewish – that represent the dynamism and vibrancy of our shared community.

Today, we’re coming together, united with a single message: we need leaders that are accountable to their constituents, that understand the communities they serve, and that will always put Southern Arizona first.

In order for that basic principle of leadership to become a reality, we need fair congressional and legislative maps that respect the identity of our communities, and don’t dilute the power of Southern Arizona. And that’s why we’re calling on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to reconsider their proposed congressional and legislative maps.

The IRC is doing important work, and we commend them for their commitment to hearing community input and striving for transparency in the map-drawing process. But we need to take the time to get these maps right, because these maps will determine how our communities are represented and how we grow not just for the next election, but for the next decade.

We can do better than the currently proposed maps, for two key reasons.

First, Arizona is a truly purple state, having recently elected both Democrats and Republicans to local and statewide offices. These maps, however, have a significant partisan skew. According to the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, the proposed congressional map has a major Republican partisan bias, leaning 5.6 percent more Republican than the state as a whole.

Second, and more importantly, regardless of partisan advantage, these maps dilute the power of Southern Arizona because they pack and crack our community into different districts. Under the proposed map, Tucson is not evenly split between two districts as it has traditionally been and as it should be. Specifically, the proposed Sixth Congressional District gets less of Tucson than the old Second District did. This needs to change. The Sixth District and the Seventh District must split the voters of Tucson in an equitable manner because we are a large community that deserves adequate representation in Congress.

If we don't take our time to get this right, the power of Southern Arizona will be unfairly diminished for the next decade, and our community won’t be ensured representation that reflects the values of our community and fights for our priorities.

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There is so much at stake, and we urge the IRC to reconsider its proposed maps to ensure Southern Arizona has the power and representation we need to shape our shared future for the next decade and beyond.

Sami Hamed is a disability rights activist, former aide to Rep. Raul Grijalva, and long-time Tucson community leader. Richard Estrada is a Latino civil rights activist who helped start the Arizona Chapter the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), where he currently serves as Vice President. Tony Zinman is the co-founder of Tucson Jews for Justice.

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1 comment on this story

Dec 5, 2021, 7:01 am
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The AIRC has an amazing ability to make Hispanic people disappear. But that’s an Arizona tradition that goes way back.

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TucsonSentinel.com publishes analysis and commentary from a variety of community members, experts, and interest groups as a catalyst for a healthy civic conversation; we welcome your comments. As an organization, we don't endorse candidates or back specific legislation. All opinions are those of the individual authors.