Center for Arizona Policy: There’s a lot on the line

There’s a lot on the line
In just four days, three very important elections will be taking place in Arizona that will have a profound impact on the state for years to come. In Tucson and Phoenix, voters will be electing new mayors. In Legislative District 18, voters are faced with a historic recall election between current Senate President Russell Pearce and challenger Jerry Lewis.CAP has published Voter Guides in all three of these elections on azvoterguide.com. City elections particularly are often overlooked, but local governments are playing an increasingly larger role in the lives of Arizona families. If you live in these communities, do not sit out these races! Be informed, and vote your values. If you don’t live in these communities, be sure your friends and family cast their ballots.One last important point – if you received an early ballot, it is too late to mail it in. For your vote to count, you must drop it off at an election center.

There’s a lot on the line, Part II
I’ve been getting asked “What’s up with this redistricting fiasco?” Make no mistake – what happens with redistricting of Arizona’s congressional and legislative district boundaries will determine the makeup of Arizona’s congressional delegation and State Legislature for the next 10 years. Don’t believe all you read in the newspapers.In 2000, voters approved Proposition 106 to establish a five-person “Independent Redistricting Commission” (IRC) to draw district lines rather than leave the task to the State Legislature. This commission is made up of two Republicans, two Democrats, and one Independent, who serves as the commission chair.The district lines drawn by the IRC must meet several constitutional requirements. Read a legal overview of the process here. Numerous and very serious legal questions have been raised about whether this year’s IRC has conducted a fair and open process, whether the mapping consultant and independent chair have political biases, and whether the draft district lines follow the constitutionally required criteria – like ensuring communities of interest are together and that the districts are geographically compact.
This week, Governor Jan Brewer and the State Senate concluded the IRC had not followed the constitutional requirements for redistricting. Pursuant to the authority granted to them by Prop 106, Gov. Brewer and the Senate removed Chairwoman Colleen Mathis from the commission. Read Gov. Brewer’s statement here and the Legislature report here.What’s next? Mathis has asked the courts to intervene and block her removal. The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is meeting Monday to discuss the process to recommend candidates to replace Mathis. Time is running short to have the new lines ready for the 2012 elections. The old lines for congressional districts cannot be used because Arizona is gaining one new congressional district due to population growth. Stay tuned – this controversy is far from over and the outcome critical to the future representation of Arizonans like you and me.

A Second Chance to Save a Marriage
No-fault divorce in America has wreaked immeasurable harm on so many families over the last 40 years. Through Covenant Marriage and divorce reform laws, CAP has workedto promote public policy that restores the meaning of marriage, and gives couples considering divorce the opportunity to reconcile.Former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Leah Sears released a bold plan to reduce unnecessary divorces, by giving couples a one-year waiting period before finalizing a divorce. According to Ms. Sears’ research, many divorces are preventable.Research over the past decade has shown that a major share of divorces (50 to 66 percent, depending on the study) occur between couples who had average happiness and low levels of conflict in the years before the divorce.I encourage you to read Ms. Sears’ recent op-ed in the Washington Post about her proposed legislation here.

Statement by Speaker Kirk Adams regarding discriminatory screening of applicant for IRC on the basis of faith

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2010

CONTACT: Paul Boyer, pboyer@azleg.gov

Statement by Speaker Kirk Adams regarding discriminatory screening of applicant for IRC on the basis of faith

PHOENIX – “Last week, an applicant for the Independent Redistricting Commission was blocked by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, apparently because of his religious faith. In an open meeting, a Commissioner opposed the application of Christopher Gleason for the sole reason that his application indicates he is a man of faith. Nothing was done to address this outrageous and offensive attack on Mr. Gleason’s faith. The Commission then proceeded to vote to prevent Mr. Gleason from reaching the other legislative leaders and I for consideration for an appointment to the Independent Redistricting Commission.

I am shocked and alarmed that a Commissioner of a constitutional commission, acting in an important constitutional proceeding, would openly oppose an applicant because his application appeared too religious. It is totally unacceptable to suggest that candidates for public service in Arizona must check their faith at the door.

I call upon the Commissioner in question to apologize and for the Commission to reconsider the application of Christopher Gleason. This incident smacks of an unconstitutional ‘religious test’ for public service. The members of the Commission must address this issue immediately. It must be made crystal clear that the applications of all Arizonans will be given fair, merit-based consideration; and that no other applicants who appear before the Commission will ever again be targeted for their faith.”

# # #