Residents offer unanimous disapproval of redistricting plan

"Ridiculous" and "unacceptable" were words used more than once Saturday by Mohave County residents commenting on possible new legislative districts during a hearing of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in Kingman.

Commissioner Joshua Hall (D- St.

Johns) welcomed an audience of roughly 100 people that filled the city hall council chamber, which has a seating capacity of 62.

"We want to hear your comments on our draft plan, which is a continuing work in progress," he said.

Hall offered a PowerPoint presentation at the outset of the meeting in which he outlined the goals of Proposition 106, under which the IRC was created.

He also explained the six goals of redistricting, made necessary by the release of the 2000 Census, as follows:

• Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and Voting Rights Act.

• Congressional and state legislative districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable.

• Districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous to the extent practicable.

• District boundaries shall respect communities of interest to the extent practicable.

• To the extent practicable, district lines shall use visible geographic features, city, town and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts.

• To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment of the other goals.

Hall asked anyone wishing to speak to limit comments to three minutes, so everyone would have a chance to be heard.

When he opened the floor to the audience, a parade of speakers went to the podium and got their messages across.

"When I moved here, I found my legislators came from Window Rock," Darryl Nelson said.

"I picked up a map and found Window Rock is closer to New Mexico than Kingman.

"I've tried to contact them and feel they are not aware of the problems of western Arizona and don't care.

"What you're doing here smells like gerrymandering and I feel the Department of Justice should look into the lines you're drawing up."

Robert Holsinger of Golden Valley said present districts stretch across the northern part of the state from California to New Mexico and people within them have few common interests.

A district that includes Mohave, La Paz and northern Yuma County would be more suitable, he said.

Kingman Mayor Les Byram and District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers both spoke in favor of a river district that includes Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City, Kingman and La Paz County.

Dave Knisely said he represents the Mohave County Farm Bureau.

"I would rather be part of a rural district," he said.

"We don't get the representation now and haven't for eons.

"If you make the boundaries stretch all the way to the (New Mexico) border, our representation will be even less."

Richard Glancy of Kingman said he feels Arizonans want competitive districts.

"If you go for congressional districts that cover more than 20 percent of the land area, it's hard to gain effective representation," Glancy said.

"In a legislative district, I feel it would be 10 percent of the land area.

"I also suggest you check with the Hualapai Indian Nation and see if their interests lie with the Hopi and Navajo nations or with Mohave County."

Saturday's meeting was one in series of second-round statewide public hearings for the IRC.

They will conclude Sept.