City pursues redistricting battle

KINGMAN – The Kingman City Council voted 4-0 Wednesday to authorize City Attorney Bob Taylor to formulate legal options to oppose proposed changes in the Arizona legislative district for Mohave County and a portion of LaPaz County.

The motion authorizes Mayor Les Byram and the city staff, led by the legal staff, to move ahead on all legal fronts to keep Kingman and Mohave County properly represented in the state Legislature.

Byram, Vice Mayor Phil Moon, Councilwoman Monica Gates and Councilman Jim Baker attended the special meeting, making the quorum of four needed to take action.

Council members Dave French, Frank McVey and Ray Lyons were out of town.

The action allows the mayor and staff to move ahead on all fronts in an effort to keep the current district intact.

Taylor said he and the legal staffs from Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City and Mohave County have been in discussion on joint actions that could be taken.

The Kingman City Council action authorizes Taylor to join with the other groups to intervene in the court proceedings and with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission in an attempt to keep the current legislative district intact.

The action keeps open the option to file a suit or for an injunction in Mohave County Superior Court or in federal court.

All of Mohave County was placed in a single state legislative district for the 2002 elections.

In 2000, prior to the changes from the 2000 U.S.

Census, parts of Mohave County were in five different legislative districts.

State Sen.

Linda Binder of Lake Havasu City, and state Reps.

Bill Wagner of Bullhead City and Joe Hart of Kingman currently represent the county.

"A judge of the Maricopa County Superior Court (Judge Kenneth Fields) made the decision that is causing all the problems," Byram said.

"We have a Mohave County Superior Court of the same rank where we can file."

Fields ruled that more districts needed to be "competitive." The final goal of the redistricting initiative: "To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals."

The change would separate King-man, the Mohave County seat, from Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City and place Kingman with the Navajo nation.

Voters in the Navajo nation would outnumber Kingman voters 100,000 to 50,000, Byram said.

The district would extend from the Nevada state line to the New Mexico state line along the entire southern boundary of Utah.

Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City would be in a district stretching to and including Flagstaff.

"I told (the redistricting commission) the current district that puts all of Mohave County in a single legislative districts is one of the great success stories of the redistricting," Byram said.

"The proposal to separate the county seat from most of the population in the county without any representation in Phoenix is a hatchet job using a chopping block."

Byram said the issue is representation, not partisanship.