Be heard: AZ Redistricting Commission hard at work
By Erika Neuberg
Please allow me to introduce myself. I am the Independent, politically unaffiliated chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
My colleagues and I are tasked with redrawing Arizona’s congressional and state legislative district lines, a process that occurs every 10 years, and serves as the boundaries from which our state and federal representatives seek elected office to represent us, individually and collectively.
Your AIRC has been hard at work preparing for the consequential next step of drawing draft maps. We have built a talented and diverse staff whose members share deep state knowledge and speak the same languages as the communities they are reaching out to.
We have gathered academics, demographers, legal consultants, mapping consultants, and others who, in a relatively short time, have seamlessly collaborated to advise us on meeting our obligations under the United States and Arizona constitutions.
We have studied our state’s racial and ethnic diversity, migration trends, economic drivers, natural resources, and comments from the citizens as to what links us together as communities of interest.
We hope the general public continues to take advantage of the trove of civic-minded information provided on the AIRC’s website under the newsroom link!
Since this past summer, we have engaged in an extensive listening tour to identify our state’s various “communities of interest” and hear from citizens as to what they believe is important in drawing district lines. I was honored to attend each of the 19 public hearings to date across 47 locations and thank the over 1,000 dedicated citizens who participated.
To be honest, I did not know what to expect at these meetings; we so often see rancor, negativity, and political extremism on traditional and social media. I am proud to say, however, that civic engagement in Arizona is strong.
Time and again, individuals, diverse in so many ways, took turns respectfully and passionately expressing their views.
We heard about the responsiveness (or lack thereof) of our local, state, and federal elected leaders.
We learned of historical, geographical, and economic connections, such as the Copper Corridor, that unite us.
We were reminded that political compromise is still possible, such as in Yuma, where Republican leaders spoke so positively of their Democratic colleagues, and vice versa. They demonstrated how to turn division into an asset by capitalizing on additional representation.
We heard from rural communities fearful that urban growth will impinge on their way of life. And we were reminded that too many minority communities still feel marginalized in their political representation.
Much work remains. The AIRC will continue to hold public meetings throughout the process. The maps will be drawn in a transparent manner in accordance with our constitutions.
You can follow each and every step of the map-drawing process live; up-to-date information with instructions for how to participate can be found on our website or social media platforms.
Citizens can submit maps, leaving no room for interpretation as to what is important to you as to the constitutional criteria. You do not need to attend a meeting to submit your comments; simply visit irc.az.gov and you will be directed to the appropriate links.
The AIRC is open 24/7 for feedback in the language that is most comfortable for you to express your thoughts. Please consider attending an upcoming hearing, or at minimum taking the time to share your feedback.
Our sincere goal is for all citizens of Arizona to be heard and counted. We are committed to conducting a transparent, ethical process that fosters as much confidence-building and trust as possible.
I appreciate that there is still much to learn, and take seriously our obligation to protect every citizen’s right to representation.
We have a once-in-a-decade opportunity to draw legislative and congressional maps that reflect the rich and diverse interests of our citizenry and of our shared home, Arizona.
On behalf of all the IRC commissioners, I look forward to hearing from you.
Erika Schupak Neuberg is a graduate of Colorado College and earned a master’s degree and doctorate in psychology from Arizona State University.