Rancho Resort

Parts of Sahuarita, including Rancho Resort, west of Interstate 19 fell under District 3 after the last round of redistricting in 2011.

Sahuarita ended up in three supervisory districts the last time Pima County went through redistricting in 2010. Now the process is due to begin again, but the boundaries could stay the same.

Every 10 years, the state and local jurisdictions look at governing boundaries to balance populations following the U.S. Census. After the 2010 Census, the Pima County Redistricting Advisory Committee recommended splitting Sahuarita among three supervisor districts – Districts 2, 3 and 4. Rancho Sahuarita and Sahuarita Heights remained in District 2, but areas west of Interstate 19 shifted to Supervisor Sharon Bronson's District 3.

According to state law, counties must equalize district populations within 10 percent of each other. In 2010, District 4 -- which includes Green Valley -- had the largest growth among the five districts, leaving it overpopulated by about 18,000 people.

In a January memo, County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry told the Board of Supervisors that current population estimates for Pima County show the districts within 10 percent of each other. He said supervisors could consider maintaining the existing Department of Justice-approved districts. However, official Census data isn't available yet.

Bronson's district also lost precincts in Marana to District 1 during the redistricting in 2010.

The state will also redraw legislative and congressional districts statewide through a five-member committee made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent acting as chair.

During the last redistricting, the process was rife with disputes from Republican legislators and party members who claimed the committee was sympathetic to Democrats.

Redrawing districts

During the last redistricting, the county set up the five-member Advisory Committee made up of representatives selected by each supervisor. The committee redrew the county's districts and made a final recommendation to the board for approval.

In 2011, the Advisory Committee recommended a map, 3-0, with one abstention, that ultimately split Sahuarita into three districts.

County staff has yet to recommend a process this year for redistricting to the board. In his January memo, Huckelberry said the county could expect more interest and participation in this year's redistricting.

On Tuesday, Huckelberry said the Census data might not show up until the summer, and without it, the redistricting process couldn't move forward yet. He said selecting a supervisor-appointed five-member committee like 10 years ago is one option, but nothing would likely be presented to the board until about May.

District supervisors

District Supervisor Steve Christy, a Republican, wants to see Sahuarita fall under a single district during this year's process.

"Naturally, I'd like to see it in District 4," he said. "I think it's an unnecessarily complicated division right now. And I'm constantly getting questions of, 'Am I in your district or am I not in your district. Where is your district?' I think something with the size, population and importance of Sahuarita should have one supervisor."

Currently, his district includes Quail Creek, Madera Highlands and La Posada, which are in Sahuarita.

Democratic Supervisor Matt Heinz has the bulk of Rancho Sahuarita in his District 2. He said he likes the idea of keeping communities together when possible.

"I can kind of see both sides of that argument," he said. "Having three (districts) seems like kind of a lot. But having one community with two supervisors they can appeal to and seek to advocate for issues particular to their community on the board when there are only five members of the board. That's in some ways interesting."

Heinz said you could end up with a supervisor from both parties, as in his and Christy's case, advocating for one community on the board.

Bronson, a Democrat, picked up parts of Sahuarita west of I-19, including Rancho Resort.

"Our past procedure has been, and I've been through this a couple of times, we appoint an ad hoc board committee to make recommendations on redistricting," she said. "But we have to operate under the federal rules, which protect majority-minority or minority-majority districts."

Bronson said the county needs balanced representation, and it's difficult to say right now without Census data on whether Sahuarita could end up in one district.

Christy said local input should be given more consideration than federal. He also wants transparency in the process, with full access given to the public.

"That's very important as far as I'm concerned," Christy said. "Otherwise, it's always subject to conspiracy theories that don't lend itself positively for the process or the community."

Heinz doesn't know who he'll pick should the county go with a five-member committee selected by supervisors again. But he said the redistricting process at the county and state level should stay away from politics as much as possible.

"It really does set the stage for our representation going forward at the county level, at that JP and constable level, and then, of course, statewide you have the legislative representation and congressional."

Democratic Supervisor Rex Scott, District 1, said applying some of the state's independent committee's models in the county process would be something worth looking at as well.

Scott said he was aware there are some concerns about Sahuarita and Marana falling into multiple districts. But he said there are no ideas on the table for how this year's process will work until something comes to the board.

District 5's Democratic Supervisor Adelita Grijalva didn't return several requests for comment.

Jorge Encinas | 520-547-9732