They're sparring over individual districts as they prepare draft map proposals for public comment hearings, starting October 10.
While I refer to them as "draft" maps, they are actually the baseline maps of the next legislative and Congressional districts. While tweaks will be made based on public input, the basic outlines and character of the districts won't change much.
Once the "draft" maps are published, it will be almost impossible to make uncompetitive districts more competitive. Individual precincts and neighborhoods might be moved between districts, but wholesale changes are unlikely.
As such, now is the last chance for people who are interested in helping Arizona as a whole move forward to add their voices in support of more competitive districts.
The AIRC's online input page is here; the agenda for Monday's meeting is here (relevant info: the meeting will start at 9 a.m. at the Fiesta Inn Resort at the SW corner of Priest and Broadway in Tempe).
Earlier today, I submitted a comment in support of increasing the number of competitive Congressional districts.
Here it is -
Chair Mathis and Commissioners Freeman, Herrera, McNulty, and Stertz,
Thank you for volunteering your time and energy to helping Arizona prepare its legislative and Congressional district maps for the next decade. It may be hard to see because of the pressures brought to bear on you, but we truly appreciate the sacrifice you are making for the state.
Today, I am writing to you to urge you to create four competitive Congressional districts.
During the past few months, you have heard from dozens of people suggesting that the AIRC's highest priority should be the protection of communities of interest.
Some of those people support genuine communities of interest (i.e. - Native American reservations), some support communities that are less well-defined (i.e. - a particular neighborhood in a particular city or county), and still others support "communities of interest" that are utterly irrelevant to the factors considered in the redistricting process (i.e. - partisan elected officials looking to keep their jobs while expending the least amount of effort necessary to accomplish that goal).
What none of them mention is that Arizona as a whole is a community of interest, and it and all of the sub-communities within it benefit from having the maximum number of elected officials who consider the needs and desires of the general electorate, not just the people who vote in primary elections.
Under the most recent proposed map of Congressional districts that I've seen before the Commission, only two districts would actually be competitive. The other seven would guarantee that the winner of a partisan primary would not have to worry about the general election.
That's not a situation that benefits Arizona.
It isn't the job of the AIRC to protect incumbent officeholders.
If that is what the voters wanted, "AIRC" would stand for "Arizona Incumbent Reassurance Commission" and the members would have to spend their days holding the hands of various elected officials while saying "There, there. It's only redistricting. It will only sting for a moment, then you're home free for another ten years."
Instead, "AIRC" stands for "Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission" and the members spend their days and evenings listening to people from all over the state express their concerns, desires, and hopes for the state.
Four competitive districts is an achievable goal, and one that can be achieved while complying with the Voting Rights Act and the other factors that the Commission must consider.
Satisfied elected officials is *not* one of those factors.Note: It's probably OK to be less wordy than me. It might even be a good idea. :)
Again, thank you for your time and sacrifice.
Note2: Once the schedule of the second round of public hearings is posted, I'll post it here as will Steve at Arizona Eagletarian (he's been doing a great job of covering the AIRC; I heartily recommend bookmarking his site).