Fears that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission could water down Northwest Arizona’s political influence seem to have been somewhat allayed with the latest legislative and congressional maps.

New proposed district boundaries mostly keep the county whole and appear to take in less of the Phoenix metropolitan area than shown in the initial maps. You may recall that early maps showed a new congressional map that lumped Lake Havasu City in with Maricopa County communities of Sun City West and Surprise as well as Luke Air Force Base, Goodyear and Buckeye.

So much of the Maricopa metropolitan area was included in the proposed map that one redistricting commissioner called it a West Valley seat disguised as a rural district. The new map is an improvement, but make no mistake — the Phoenix influence is still there with Buckeye and other West Valley communities.

Still, the changes help assure that a congressional representative isn’t torn between the needs of our rural communities and those of more urban ones.

Interestingly, the redistricting process seems to separate Mohave County from Yavapai County and the rest of Northern Arizona, which means Congressman Paul Gosar would no longer represent this area unless he chooses to move here.

Still, the proposed Congressional District 9 basically includes all of Western Arizona, which has enough shared values and interests that any potential politician shouldn’t have much difficulty in representing the area in Washington.

On the legislative side of things, the new District 30 appears to be very close to its current boundaries. That’s a good development in a district that has recently produced three Legislative leaders who have found strong voices on issues such as water rights and transportation funding. All of that would be dilluted under the original plan.

The redistricting process appears to be working as it’s supposed to work, but it’s important for voters to stay engaged and on guard.

The commission will continue to meet through next week, and its decisions will impact our state for the next decade.

You can review the latest developments for yourself at https://irc.az.gov/.

—Today’s News-Herald

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