12/31/2011 1:05:00 PM Editorial: 2012 will be season of political change in Verde Valley
For most of us, a new year marks a season of change.
We make resolutions. We set goals. We make a commitment to better our lives.
Politically speaking in the Verde Valley, the winds of change will blow in a manner unlike any we’ve seen in the past 25 years.
It’s all because of this process we went through in 2011 called redistricting. At the county, state and congressional level, we re-divided the pie that defines representation. The political landscape in the Verde Valley shifted like a California tectonic plate.
At the county level, Yavapai now has five supervisor districts and it’s doubtful the Verde Valley gained any political clout from this split. Our best hope of having two votes on the new five-person board rests with someone from Cornville or Camp Verde knocking off incumbent Tom Thurman or another Prescott-area candidate in the newly configured District 2.
It’s a certainty the Verde Valley will have local representation in the new District 3. If we’re lucky, longtime Supervisor Chip Davis will again seek that office. But, realizing the potential 4-1 Prescott-weighted deck of cards he will be dealt, who could blame Davis if he calls it a career and moves on.
The Yavapai County dividing line between Prescott and the Verde Valley is even more pronounced when you look at the new state legislative districts. Here, the Verde Valley, in effect, divorced itself from Prescott and hopped in the political sack with Flagstaff in the newly created Legislative District 6. Prescott finds itself in the new District 14 with Anthem, Carefree and New River. Already, the current Prescott-based incumbents are voicing fears that they are now in an urbanized legislative district. It almost makes you think these new lines were purposely drawn to render Prescott’s two main power brokers -- House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce -- politically impotent.
“I believe this definitely is going to divide our county again,” said Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott. The new Legislative District 6 officials will likely be from Coconino County, and “they do not understand the water issues of the Big Chino and Verde River,” she said.
Hmmmmm. For years, a lot of folks in the Verde Valley have said it’s the Prescott folks who “do not understand the water issues of the Big Chino and Verde River.”
At the Congressional level, the divided house syndrome continues with Camp Verde, Lake Montezuma, the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona in Congressional District 1 with Flagstaff. The rest of the Verde Valley joins Prescott and the remainder of the county in Congressional District 4 with parts of Maricopa (including Apache Junction), Gila, Pinal (including Florence), Mohave, La Paz and Yuma counties.
The political landscape of the Verde Valley and the entire county has shifted dramatically. It’s time to forge new political alliances.