A proposal to redraw district boundaries for Cochise County Supervisors met with lots of opposition last week in Bisbee.

Citizens in the Sierra Vista area had their opportunity to comment on the proposal Tuesday night and undoubtedly differed in their opinions from those aired last week.

Rachel Gray, the city’s mayor pro tem and representative on the county redistricting committee, called for boundary lines to be redrawn to include Fort Huachuca within District 1. Currently the fort and portions of Sierra Vista’s West End fall into District 2.

We understand some of the reasons offered in opposition to the proposal. Redrawing the district would reduce the number of minority voters in District 1 and concentrate that population in District 2. That violates a basic principle of the Voter Rights Act to ensure minority representation in each district.

What we don’t understand are some of the emotional and openly hostile comments voiced during last week’s public hearing and at a previous meeting of the committee. We also don’t understand how elected public officials can confuse combining communities of similar interest — one of the goals of redistricting — with public services provided by the county.

Examples of both ideas, completely unrelated to the task of redistricting, have been aired recently.

A popular comment voiced during last week’s hearing contended “Douglas doesn’t need to be a suburb of Sierra Vista.”


Last we checked, suburbs are small communities outside of a city, not balanced population districts drafted to assure voter representation. No one questioned whether Douglas was its own city with its own identity and the redistricting process has nothing to do with determining the municipal status of that community.

Nonetheless, the emotional appeal and sectarianism of the comment touched a nerve for those attending the hearing. It revealed a deep-seated dislike for Sierra Vista and misjudged the process of redistricting as some sort of manifest destiny to expand the city’s sphere of influence.

Similar vitriol was expressed last month by committee member Cheryl Glenn, who represents District 3. Among a number of negative overtones, she characterized the proposal to include Fort Huachuca into District 1 as selfish, stating, “ … I can’t see we’re really doing anything but satisfying Sierra Vista by taking a block they want and taking a block they don’t care about. I don’t see any beneficial change for anybody but Sierra Vista.”

Then there’s Bisbee Mayor Ken Budge, who somehow thinks public services are an ingredient in whether district boundary lines should be redrawn. He noted the “ … county doesn’t do anything for the fort,” pointing out the post has its own police force. It’s notable that Bisbee also has its own police force, as do several communities in the county, regardless of district representation.

In fact, Cochise County has worked closely with the fort in the past to address water and environmental concerns involving the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area.

More importantly, the only real questions that needed to be addressed during the redistricting process should have focused on equal and fair representation of county residents on the Board of Supervisors.

All the other comments were unnecessary pot shots, creating confusion.