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Groups: AZ Redistricting Panel Excludes Communities of Color


Monday, September 20, 2021   

PHOENIX -- Latinos and other communities of color showed their newfound muscle in the 2020 elections, helping to vote Arizona Democrats into the White House and U.S. Senate.

While those groups want to consolidate their electoral gains in the state's redistricting process, some say the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is making it difficult for them to participate.

Victoria Grijalva Ochoa, program manager for One Arizona, an alliance of two dozen advocacy groups across the state, said by limiting the number of public hearings and not holding any in majority-Latino communities, the commission is not engaging all of Arizona's voters.

"There's about 30% of the state's population is Latino alone, and that is big for us," Ochoa explained. "We need to be properly represented in these upcoming maps because, as you know, they're going to dictate the next 10 years of our lives."

The commission is made up of two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent chair named by the governor. Before the independent panel, the state's political maps were drawn and approved by the GOP-controlled Arizona Legislature. Final maps must be approved by late December.

Ochoa claimed the commission provided insufficient notice of its public hearings, giving anyone who wants to attend less than a week to coordinate childcare, schedule time off work or organize transportation.

She noted her coalition is encouraging the commission to expand its public hearings to Latino communities, in places like Avondale, Maryvale, Nogales, South Tucson or Tolleson.

"There's just a number of organizations that are already familiar with the community, that have community experience, knowledge and trust," Ochoa outlined. "We know that this is a lot of work to do in a very short timeline. But there are groups that they could be working with to really extend this outreach and make sure that they're reaching folks, wherever we are."

The commission holds its first of five scheduled hearings beginning Tuesday at locations mainly in the Phoenix metro area, with virtual meetings set for towns in other parts of the state.

Disclosure: Fair Representation in Redistricting contributes to our fund for reporting on Civic Engagement. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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