As a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, I would like to express my thoughts on the Independent Redistricting Commission. For those who do not know, Prop 106 was a voter approved ballot initiative that was passed in 1998 putting the redistricting authority into the hands of an independent commission. The heart of the initiative was to create an independent body that would act in a non-partisan nature.
Ten years ago, the IRC, with then chairman Steve Lynn, was successful in achieving these goals. They were able to draw maps that adequately reflected voter populations, communities of interest and remained consistent with the federal voters rights act. In essence it created an equal playing field for both Republicans and Democrats in Arizona in relationship to voter registration and demographic numbers.
However, it is now clear at this moment the current IRC is unbalanced and is not acting in an independent method with Colleen Mathis at the helm. Most do not know this but, Colleen Mathis’ husband served as the treasurer for my Democrat opponent in the 2010 election cycle, unquestionably the most far left-wing ideolog who severed in the Arizona House of Representatives. Their unsuccessful campaign was one of the dirtiest in recent southern Arizona history. Colleen Mathis failed to mention this in her application to the IRC. That fact alone makes it all but impossible for Colleen Mathis to be impartial and to be able to act in an independent manner.
For me, as an Arizona State Representative from Northwest Pima County, it is not a matter of eliminating the IRC, but how we fix it so it functions as it did 10 years ago under Steve Lynn. The IRC has performed at a high level of efficiency and integrity in the past and it can again if we take steps to fix it. If Governor Brewer calls the legislature into special session next week I would be willing to vote for reforms to the current independent system. It is clear that Colleen Mathis is unable to conduct herself in a non-partisan and independent manner. Mathis must go.
As well, in order for the integrity of the IRC to be reestablished other reforms must be taken. The voters of Arizona should consider accepting a more thorough vetting process to ensure that people like Mathis who have a political agenda do not get put on the commission. There should be mechanisms in place to remove members that lie or mislead in the application process. We should consider expanding the board beyond its current level of five members, which will not allow so much power to be controlled by so few.
It is important that we honor the will of the voters and ensure that they get what they bargained for: a truly independent redistricting commission that does not serve the interest of ether the Republicans or the Democrats, but that of the interest of the people of Arizona.