Less than a day allowed for public comment on districts 

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors will hold a work session Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. until noon in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room at the Pinal County Administrative Complex. [Jimmy Emmerson]

The Pinal County Board of Supervisors will allow less than 24 hours for public input on the boundaries for the new county supervisor districts the board will vote on. 

The board of supervisors will hold a work session Tuesday morning from 9 a.m. until noon in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room at the Pinal County Administrative Complex, 135 North Pinal Street in Florence. During that session, the board will hear information and make a recommendation on the proposed borders for the five supervisor districts, including a new option, “Map M,” which was proposed this week by the Maricopa City Council. 

However, the board will reconvene at its regular board meeting just 21 hours later, at 9 a.m. Wednesday, to approve a district boundary map. That short turnaround has several Maricopa leaders upset that they are not allowing sufficient time for public comment.  

“They may vote on it as early as Wednesday,” said Maricopa Mayor Christian Price. “And so, if they’re going to come out with any new maps, or they’re going to roll out new maps for us to view, and we get to see if Tortosa is back in (District 4 with the rest of Maricopa) or not as of Tuesday, then really, it doesn’t give the public a lot of time in which to actually say yay or nay, I’m good with it or I’m not.  

“That’s one of the things I would encourage our public to do is to contact their supervisor, contact all the supervisors, because it’s not just one that votes on it. It’s all five of them, that vote.” 

Price added that those who can participate in Tuesday’s meeting should do so, and request more time be allowed for citizen input. 

“I would encourage our citizens to not only call or write in, but to attend the meeting if they could,” Price said. “If they can participate in that through a speaker card or something like that, I would encourage them to…ask for more citizen or community input.” 

Price said councilmember Nancy Smith has led the charge on this issue. 

“Nancy has really done a great job of saying, ‘hey we need to get public input on this.’” Price said. “And the county, perhaps a little reluctantly, did that. And so, I don’t know how much they’re taking into consideration.” 

Smith said the history of District 4 is one of gerrymandering. 

“Ask anyone who has any knowledge of District 4, they will tell you that the district was totally gerrymandered from the beginning,” Smith said. Now is the time to fix that gerrymandering. But it won’t happen, because if we move Saddlebrooke out of District 4 like we should, it would basically move Jeff McClure out of District 4 and into District 1 and he’d have to run against Kevin Cavanaugh.” 

Smith said moves like that make it appear the supervisors are voting in their own self-interest rather than that of their constituents. 

“It doesn’t appear to me that anyone wants to do what’s right for the people because our current supervisor (District 4 supervisor Jeff McClure) lives in Eagle Crest,” Smith said. “That is part of Saddlebrooke and those are all unincorporated areas. Now all four of those developments are in District 4 which is why they had to move Tortosa out of District 4. Makes no sense whatsoever. It’s just going to be more gerrymandering and is very, very, upsetting.” 

Smith also railed against the short public input period. 

“The result of that (meetings on back-to-back days) is that we will have public input for less than 24 hours,” Smith said. “They have to have public comment before they can vote on it at the supervisors meeting. It makes you wonder what’s going to be incorporated from a three-hour meeting that hasn’t been incorporated in a month of redistricting meetings.” 

She added that she just wants the supervisors to do the right thing. 

“I have told a couple of the supervisors that what I want is for you all to be bold and do what’s right for the people and not worry about each other’s incumbent seats,” she said.  

Council member Henry Wade also weighed in, although his concerns were centered more around the supervisors’ lack of regard for local concerns about the redistricting. 

“I am upset that they chose to ignore our concerns and well-thought-out rebuttal to the decisions put forth by the redistricting committee which divides our community with limited benefits to either district,” Wade said.