Colleen Mathis

Colleen Mathis

After being forcefully removed as chairwoman of the Arizona Redistricting Commission, Colleen Mathis will challenge the state's decision in court.

The matter will now move to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Senator Al Melvin, R-District 26, voted with fellow Republicans to remove Colleen Mathis from the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Tuesday night in a special session.

Mathis, the Independent chairwoman of the five-member commission, was removed in a 21-6 party line vote. Senate Republicans unanimously voted to remove Mathis, while all six Democrats voted against the measure.

Melvin said he voted in favor of removing Mathis because he feels she did not fulfill her duties properly. “She was blatantly partisan,” he said. “She was supposed to be Independent, but she was anything but Independent.”

The special session was called by Secretary of State Ken Bennett on behalf of Gov. Jan Brewer, who was in New York to promote her book.

Brewer had pushed for not only Mathis to be removed, but also for the removal of the commission’s Democrats Linda McNulty, of Pima County, and Jose Herrara, of Maricopa County.

In a Nov. 1 letter to Mathis, Bennett said after careful review, it was determined that she failed to conduct the commission’s business in meetings open to the public, and failed to adjust the grid map as necessary to accommodate all of the goals set forth in the Arizona Constitution.

Gov. Brewer needed a two-thirds majority vote to remove Mathis.

In a Nov. 1 statement, Brewer said, “I recognize that my decision will not be popular in some quarters. I certainly did not reach it lightly. However, the conduct of the AIRC, led by Chairwoman Mathis, has created a cloud of suspicion that will not lift. A flawed redistricting process has resulted in a flawed product. Just as disturbing, the public does not have confidence in the integrity of the current redistricting process. As chairwoman of the this commission, the buck stops with Ms. Mathis.”

Brian Clymer, chairman of the Legislative District 26 Democratic Committee, called Tuesday’s vote to remove Mathis “a partisan power grab.”

Clymer criticized Melvin for voting to remove Mathis, and Brewer for ordering Bennett to call the special session.

“It deprives Mathis her right to due process,” he said. “It denies Arizona voters the opportunity to have their state legislative and congressional district lines drawn without interference from incumbent politicians.”

Melvin said the vote to remove Mathis was not about political power, but about doing what’s right as the process to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts moves forward.

In an Oct. 31 report, the Arizona Joint Legislative Redistricting Committee called the commission’s proposed district maps “fundamentally flawed.”

The commission now has 30 days to replace Mathis.

Meanwhile, the scheduled meetings to receive public comment regarding the proposed maps will move forward as planned.

On Friday, a public meeting will be held in Marana, starting at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at the council chambers, located at 11555 Civic Center Dr.

(1) comment


I know many Independent registered voters, who lean to one party but not always. That's why they are registered Independent. Had the chair been registered Independent leaning Republican, would that be too "blatantly partisan" for Senator Melvin?

The only hope is that the new final maps will be competitive. The voters do not want legislators responsible for drawing their own districts.

Ideally, congressional and legislative district maps would reflect the results of the most recent census. The concept of one-person, one-vote dictates that districts should be roughly equal in population.

On August 17th, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor addressed the Independent Redistricting Commission. Justice O'Connor praised the volunteer members of the Independent Redistricting Commission for their civic service.

Now over two months later, Governor Brewer and the GOP majority in the state senate cry "gross misconduct” to oust the IRC chair?? The rush by AZ Secretary of State Ken Bennett to call the November 1st special session is the epitome of a miscarriage of justice. The 21 AZ legislators responsible for the ousting should stand accused of “gross misconduct” for ignoring the voters’ will.

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