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Representative Vic Williams has written an amazing piece for a State Representative who has heretofore mostly succeeded in remaining at a distance from the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party, usually appearing quite reasonable in his positions and his rhetoric. Now he has come out as a super partisan, following in the steps of his stable mate, Representative Terri Proud. The fear for her political future that has motivated Ms. Proud in attacking the Independent Redistricting Commission from the moment the four partisan Commissioners unanimously chose Colleen Coyle Mathis to chair the Commission is now echoed shrilly by Mr. Williams. An Independent by registration, Ms. Mathis might have been registered as a Libertarian or a Green and been qualified to serve as Chairman, since the constitutional requirement is that the Chairman not be registered with any party already represented on the Commission. Further, the political leanings, registration, contributions, employment of a spouse or other family member are legally irrelevant to the qualification of an individual to serve on the Commission.
Although I was not actively engaged in following the work of the initial IRC ten years ago, my recollection is that it did not enjoy smooth sailing under the chairmanship of Steve Lynn. The Department of Justice was not initially satisfied with that Commission’s efforts to conform to the requirements of the Voting Rights Act, and the courts eventually played a significant role in the establishment of the districts with which the state has lived during the past decade. And questions were raised during the tenure of that Commission regarding the leanings of its Chairman, who had ties to then Congressman Jim Kolbe. But of course Mr. Williams had not yet moved to Arizona until after that Commission's work was done. Perhaps his not being here then explains the rosy picture he paints of its achievements.
I follow the political scene in Pima County closely enough to be somewhat surprised by Mr. Williams’ characterization of Nancy Young Wright as “unquestionably the most far left-wing ideolog who served in the Arizona House of Representatives.” Whether she would be pleased or not to be considered the most progressive member of a notoriously conservative body is for Ms. Young Wright to say, but Mr. Williams’ use of deliberately pejorative language does not speak well to his civility. I would ask Mr. Williams for some substantiation of his gratuitous assertion that the Young Wright campaign was ” one of the dirtiest in recent southern Arizona history.”
From his own words Mr. Williams makes clear that he has joined forces with the FAIR [Fearful And Intimidated Redistricting] Trust, apparently the creature of Arizona’s retiring junior U.S. Senator and the four members of Congress from his party who are planning to seek reelection in 2012. This group has been attempting to influence the course of the redistricting process since its beginning to the advantage of the party which currently has a 70% majority in the State Senate and 2/3 majority in the State House. He and they — along with Governor Brewer — are determined that fairness, competitiveness and basic justice shall be whatever they say they are.
I say let the Commission do its work, which at this stage is to pore over the mountains of comments, suggestions and pleas it has received during the course of a month of public hearings, and then to finalize its maps, addressing legitimate public concerns as best it can. I’m pretty certain no one will be completely satisfied, some will be quite unsatisfied, but the state will have Congressional and Legislative Districts with which we the people can live for the coming decade. And Friar Tuck concludes with words from Franklin Roosevelt’s first Inaugural Address: “… the only thing we have to fear is fear itself…”
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