Virtually every group on the Prescott side of Mingus Mountain that has weighed in on Yavapai County redistricting has favored the Map A option. Now, Dist. 2 County Supervisor Tom Thurman has suggested several minor changes that might make it his alternative Map A palatable to an even larger population.
Thurman has proposed an alternative Map A that will put Cornville, which was split in half on the original Map A, together in one district, and all of Cottonwood, which was also divided, in another district. Additionally, the alternative puts Skull Valley and Kirkland together in the same district. These changes, Thurman said, go along with residents' wishes that like communities stay together in their districts.
Yavapai County currently has three Board of Supervisor Districts based on the 2000 Census population figure of 167,517. According to the 2010 Census, the county's population is now at 211,033, which by Arizona State Law now requires a five-member board of supervisors.
Thurman said of 211,000 people in Yavapai County, only about 200 had commented on their preference for the configuration the five districts as of July, and most of those were from the Verde side of the mountain.
Since that time, Dewey-Humboldt, Prescott Valley, and some civic organizations in the Highway 69 corridor communities have said they will also support Map A. Public comment is now closed, and the Board of Supervisors is set to make a decision on Aug. 22.
One of the biggest areas of contention in the map configurations was that Map C put Sedona and portions of Prescott Valley in the same district. Maps C and D put Sedona and Camp Verde together. Some community representatives from the Highway 69 corridor, Cordes Lakes and Black Canyon City said they would rather see the more rural Camp Verde stay in their district, because the communities are more likeminded. Thurman said C and D were the least popular choices among those who commented.
Dewey-Humboldt Mayor Terry Nolan said he was concerned about choices such as Map C and D because they would bring large portions of the Verde Valley communities into East Chino Valley and Prescott Valley. He said he liked Map A because it would keep the similar communities of Dewey-Humboldt, Spring Valley, Mayer and Cordes Lakes in the same district with the Camp Verde area and Black Canyon City.
"Right now Humboldt is in Dist. 1, Carol Springer's district, but we have more communication with Tom than we do with her," because of the way the districts are configured, he said.
The D-H council heard from Prescott Valley Councilman Mike Flannery and former Yavapai County Supervisor Bill Feldmeier at its Aug. 2 meeting. Flannery pointed out Map C, saying it was one map that does the town damage by splitting it.
"You have a small population to begin with. You become, not a small fish, but minnows," he said.
Flannery and Feldmeier recommended Map A for Dewey-Humboldt, as it provides the most inclusive area in District 4. "It leaves Dewey-Humboldt pretty much alone," Flannery said.
Feldmeier told the council that the Board of Supervisors would be consolidating and reviewing all public and municipality input over the next three weeks. The decision will impact the county for at least 10 years, he said. At that time, the supervisors may need to move the precinct boundaries a little to create a balance based on changes in population.
For D-H, the difference between Map A and B is minimal. With Map A, Prescott Valley's portion in District 4 is slightly less - just under 10 percent -than the area shown in Map B - about 10 percent. Again, feelings about the districting run strong.
"The less of Prescott Valley in our area, the better," Council member Denise Rogers said.
Black Canyon City Fire Chief Tom Birch and community volunteer Bob Cothern agreed in July that they would not want the majority of representation to be from a larger community.
"I wouldn't want communities like Prescott and Prescott Valley involved in the decision- making for an area like Black Canyon City. We'd get overruled real easily. To design the districts to accommodate the rural areas such as BCC is key," Birch said.
Cothern said he liked Map A because he is involved in much of the recreation/open space work, such as the Black Canyon Trail, and efforts that include the Camp Verde area. For those areas to be in the same district would simplify the ongoing development of recreational opportunities, he said.
Rancher Bert Teskey said he was leaning toward Map D, but after hearing comments in July, he said he could support Map A.
"I can see that Camp Verde is more similar to what we have here (in the Mayer/Cordes area). If you think you can politically balance the Verde River for them and the Agua Fria for us, (I can support A)," he said.
Thurman said regardless of which map option the supervisors choose, he will maintain a more county-wide view.
"It's the same old thing. The Verde Valley doesn't want this side of the mountain to represent any part of them, and Prescott Valley doesn't want anyone on the Verde Valley side to represent this side," he said. "No matter what I do I'm going to get complaints that I side with one or the other. I hate the bickering with a passion."
Thurman said he was one of the designers of Map C, but he now agrees that Map A will make sure that the Verde Valley always has a representative, no matter how big Prescott Valley gets.
"There is one seat that's sole to the Verde. They can't lose that seat to someone from Prescott Valley," he said.
The Yavapai County Board of Supervisors will conduct a special redistricting meeting at 9 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 22. They invite the public to attend at 1015 Fair St. in Prescott or by video at 10 S. 6th St. in Cottonwood. They will receive more public comment at the meeting. Following comments and discussion, board members plan to approve a final redistricting map.
To see information on the redistricting process, or read public comments, visit the county's redistricting website at http://redistricting.co.yavapai.az.us. For more information, call Julie Ayers, Yavapai County administrator, at Julie.email@example.com or call 928-442-5205.
Reporter Sue Tone contributed to this story.