Southern Arizona weighs in on redistricting hearing

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Southern Arizona residents weighed in Saturday night on the future of the state's political landscape.

The state is growing so fast, it's set to gain a new Congressional district, but the question now is where to draw new district lines?

One by one they stood before the state's independent redistricting commission, ready to make their case, from state lawmakers to Southern Arizona residents.

Saturday the commission held the last of a first round of public hearings, to receive input about where to redraw Arizona's new political boundaries.  The change can influence whether Democrats or Republicans get voted into office.

"There have been suggestions to pack all of central Tucson into a single district.  I am really against this," said State Senator Paula Aboud District 28.

Saturday's meeting drew one of the largest crowds. One of the major issues in question is Will the new legislative districts be competitive or will republicans be guaranteed victories in republican districts and vice-versa with democrats?

"Arizona needs competitive districts and it is through competitive districts we'll get back to civil discourse," said State Senator Aboud.

In the midst of all the concern a cloud hangs over the commission.

"Perhaps more than just one resignation from this committee should be in order," said State Representative Terry Proud.

Representative Terri Proud is among some who believe the commission is biased toward Democrats.  She says the chairman, Colleen Mathis, voted to hire a consulting firm with links to the democratic party to redraw the lines.  The Attorney General's office is now investigating the commission.

"For the sake of public confidence in this process and to put this matter behind us, I intend to fully answer any questions asked of me from the Attorney General's office," said Committee Chair Colleen Mathis.

In the meantime the process will move forward with Arizona's political representation at stake.

The commission is aiming for mid-September to have drafts of the new redistricting maps.   It will then hold a second round of public hearings, so residents can give their input about those drafts.