Verde Valley leaders learning to live with new districts
VERDE VALLEY -- Most of the fussing and fighting over re-districting is now behind us ... but not all of it.
Paul Gosar, a Flagstaff dentist who during his first term represented Northern and Eastern Arizona, says District 1 is now loaded against him, so he will move his campaign to District 4, which he believes is more politically Republican.
That would appear to give Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick an open door for a run to reclaim her former Congressional seat in District 1.
When asked his opinion, Prescott State Lawmaker Andy Tobin reportedly urged Gosar not to abandon his District 1 constituents.
Gosar is expected to have some Republican competition in District 4 with Sheriff Paul Babeau of Pinal County and Arizona Senator Ron Gould of Lake Havasu.
Yavapai County Supervisor Chip Davis believes Gosar and others challenging the boundaries may be wasting time.
"The clock is ticking. Either you accept the boundaries and go to work or you keep complaining while the clock ticks and lose a lot of time getting out into that new country and meeting people. Stuff happens all the time that you don't like, but you roll up your sleeves and get on with it. That would be my philosophy," said Davis.
"It would be nice to say were are still going to have influence whether we are in District 4 or District 1Congressional District," Davis added.
"The sad part and the realistic part is that District 4 is basically Cottonwood, Clarkdale and west through Yavapai to the Colorado River is primarily Republican. But right now, Congressional District 1 is Camp Verde, Lake Montezuma and Sedona and on up to the state line is primarily Democratic and now we do have conflict that if you are a Democrat and I am a Republican, we have to dislike each other but, we do have something in common here, whether it is our region or our state. But we have to draw a line in the sand and say we don't like each other."
Cottonwood Mayor Diane Joens added, "All the mayors asked that they not divide the Verde Valley. I have just kind of figured it is what it is and I gave my opinion and the council met and gave their opinions and the citizens met and gave their opinion and so it is what it is and if we got lemons we will just have to make lemonade.
"The Greater Arizona Mayors Association we have in Northern Arizona and meet together and try to work out what affects us the most and at one meeting, we decided we will work together no matter how it turns out."
Clarkdale Mayor Doug Von Gausig is not concerned with the redistricting process.
"My emphasis is on local government and we are going to deal with whatever they do with the legislative or congressional districts. There are reasons Yavapai County would like to stay together and reasons why the Verde Valley would like to remain as a community of interest. But I am not at all worried about the outcome of this. I am more worried about how local leaders respond to it and how leaders do their job than I am about who we get for state senator or representative or Congressman. It's going to be me and other mayors and other elected official talking to whoever their legislator or congressman is and their relationship with them. I am just optimistic that we have a bunch of good leaders in the area and they will do the job."
The Verde Valley has been attached to Flagstaff in Legislative District 6 in the State House re-districting, splitting it from the rest of Yavapai County, now in District 14 alone with Anthem, Carefree and New River. That concerns Yavapai's Prescott-based representatives who have said they would challenge the map.
The Redistricting Commission got a mixed message when it met in Cottonwood, said Mayor Rob Adams of Sedona.
"I know all the mayors and Chip were interested in continuing to be aligned with Prescott to continue to have a voice in the Verde River in the legislative as well as at the Congressional level. I agree with that. Our experience is that the Greater Prescott area has always had more power and gets elected because of the greater voter base. Particularly, here in Sedona, we have been more aligned with the Flagstaff area, because our water originates on the Colorado Plateau. Our eco-tourism base is often aligned with Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon."
"I think those thoughts voiced at the redistricting meeting was a little confusing for the commissioners and gave us what people were saying. I don't think it was the best possible outcome."
"Sedona clearly feels more aligned with the Verde Valley than with Flagstaff or Prescott. I think across the board, with the legislative and congressional, the best case scenario did not happen."