Peoria adopts new Council district map

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After a lengthy discussion and diverse public input, the Peoria City Council made a major decision Tuesday.

With five proposed maps of new City Council districts to vote on, the Council chose Map No. 4, as listed in the agenda materials for the meeting. That map’s set of six boundaries has been re-drawn using 2020 U.S. Census data and public and Council input.

Map 4 was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Council members Denette Dunn and Jon Edwards voting in opposition.

Just prior to the final vote, Map No. 1 was rejected by a 5-2 vote, with Dunn and Edwards as the only votes in favor of the map.

Map 4 and the other final proposed maps can be found on the Dec. 14 meeting agenda on peoriaaz.gov.

“I don’t think any of these maps hurt my (Acacia) district,” Council member Vicki Hunt, voicing one of the few neutral or positive comments about any of the five maps.

Most of the commentary at Tuesday’s meeting, both from Council and the public, observed one or more problems with one of the five maps.

Dunn moved for a postponement of the vote so that Council could more thoroughly digest information that had been released Monday. No one seconded her motion; City Attorney Vanessa Hickman reminded the Council that the following day —Wednesday, Dec. 15 — was Maricopa County’s established deadline for municipalities to submit final Council districts.

Input and Council discussion focused on problems with specific proposed districts and the process, and whether enough data had been supplied prior to the 10 public meetings. Dunn said she requested “haystack” data eight times, with Mayor Cathy Carlat finally agreeing to honor one of Dunn’s request the day before the Dec. 14 meeting.

Several Council members and public commenters mentioned a media report published Dec. 10 that characterized the city as having withheld important data.
Carlat took issue with the idea that there is any evidence of wrongdoing, pointing out that “newspapers do not always print the full facts and full truth.”

She also said there has been no manipulation of the redistricting process.

Hickman and City Manager Jeff Tyne both said all five proposed maps meet state and federal guidelines and follow all applicable laws, including the Voters Rights Act of 1965.

One of the handful of people who commented, Eva Osuna, said data received by the public later than it was needed.

“As a teacher, I would never give my students a test, and not give them all the information they’d be tested on.”

Osuna urged the Council to keep the Varney area intact and urged approval of maps No. 1 or No. 3. More than one Council member also mentioned trying to keep Varney and other neighborhoods intact.

Tyne mentioned, more than once, the difficulties of the city working on what he called a “truncated” schedule, with Census data being released this summer much later than it had been in 2011, following the 2010 Census.

The districts will be used for the city’s August 2022 elections.

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