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Panel trims redistricting hopefuls to 40; interviews Dec. 8

In what will probably look like speed-dating for politicians, each of the 40 candidates vying for a spot on the Independent Redistricting Commission will have just a few moments to impress a selection panel during its next meeting Dec. 8.

The Commission on Appellate Court Nominees decided Nov. 16 that an assembly-line approach of rushed interviews would work better than no interviews prior to choosing a final list of 25 nominees for the Redistricting Commission, which will be in charge of re-drawing Arizona’s legislative and congressional maps.

“I want to see if these people can string four or five coherent sentences together,” said Dewey Schade, a member of the Commission on Appellate Court Nominees.

Steve Lynn, chairman of the inaugural Redistricting Commission, had advised the selection commission to closely consider an applicant’s demeanor, because the work of redistricting will take years of commitment and demands an ability to work well with others.

The commission must send the names of 10 Democrats, 10 Republicans and five others who are unaffiliated with a political party to legislative leaders by Jan. 8.

Starting out with 77 applicants, the commission during its first meeting chose 15 Republicans and Democrats each and 10 independents to move onto the interview phase.

Michael Rusing, a Tucson attorney on the selection commission, questioned the value of such brief interviews and noted that there were no interviews in 2000 when there more than 300 applicants.

“You can’t learn anything in three minutes that can’t be faked,” Rusing said.

The rest of the commission wants to see the communication skills of the candidates.

“I want to know face-to-face if they’re willing to make that commitment,” said Commissioner Suzanne Ballard.

Sitting through hours of brief interviews may take up most of the commission’s time Dec. 8, but it’s toughest challenge may be to select a field that not only meets the required number for each political affiliation, but also a blend  of cultural and geographic diversity.

Nominees Kimulet Winzer, a Democrat, and Timothy Overton, an independent, were the only black people approved for the interview phase.

Winzer’s application elicited no discussion among the group and only two of 14 members voted for her during the first round of voting, but the commission unanimously supported her on the second vote.

Overton, who got no votes on the first round, was also added after getting eight votes on the second vote.

In the group of Hispanics who will be interviewed, there were two Democrats, two independents and a Republican.

Overton, who got no votes on the first round, was also added unanimously on the second vote.

In the group of Hispanics who will be interviewed, there were two Democrats, two independents and a Republican.

Sen. Richard Miranda, a Tolleson Democrat, has said the Legislative Latino Caucus is going to press for a Hispanic to be seated on the five-member Redistricting Commission.

“The reality of it is we’ll have more influence on the Democratic side than the Republican side,” Miranda said.

A Latino member would help the other commissioners understand the importance of keeping Latino communities intact and represented at the Legislature, said Miranda, who will move to the House next term.

Lynn, who is from Pima County, said his commission was criticized for not being culturally diverse, but he stressed that geographic representation is important as well because if the commission is weighted too heavily for Maricopa County, the most populated county in the state, there will be the appearance of undue influence.

Right now, there are 26 candidates from Maricopa County, 11 from Pima County and one each from Coconino, Navajo and Yuma.

Legal issues could disqualify some of the list of 40.

Clint Bolick, who is the lead attorney for the Goldwater Institute, contends that Professor Paul Bender is ineligible to serve because he has served as a judge in tribal courts, which is in violation of a rule prohibiting anyone on the Redistricting Commission from holding any other public office within the past three years.

Bender argues that the phrase “any other public office” refers only to state, city or county offices, and not to tribal officials.

There is also a question of whether getting elected to an irrigation district counts as having held office.

Republicans Stephen Sossaman and Mark Schnepf, both farmers from Queen Creek, serve on Queen Creek Irrigation District and New Magma Irrigation District, respectively.

Schnepf faces a second issue.

He did not attach a “statement of interest” to his application even though the application says it is required. But the selection commission is going to ask the Attorney General’s Office whether the language on the application is legally binding or if the commission has discretion.

In the meantime, the commission voted to add Schnepf to the list of 40.

“I don’t think a list of Republicans going forward would be complete without Mr. Schnepf,” Schade said.

Remaining Nominees
Democrats
Eric Henderson, Navajo
Jimmie Dee Smith, Yuma
Michael Kuby, Maricopa
Mark Rubin, Pima
Linda McNulty, Pima
Marcia Busching, Maricopa
Robert Cannon, Maricopa
Frances Dickman, Maricopa
Marshall Worden, Pima
Luis Gonzalez, Pima
Lawrence Mohrweis, Coconino
William Roe, Pima
S.L. “Si” Schorr, Pima
Jose Herrera, Maricopa
Kimulet Winzer, Maricopa

Independents
Linda Spears, Maricopa
Margarita Silva, Maricopa
Kimber Lanning, Maricopa
Coleen Mathis, Pima
Paul Bender, Maricopa
Raymond Bladine, Maricopa
Catherine Castle, Maricopa
Adolfo Echeveste, Maricopa
Doug Campos-Outcalt, Maricopa
Timothy Overton, Maricopa

Republicans
Jim Bruner, Maricopa
Louis De Leon, Maricopa
Patrick McWhortor, Maricopa
Benny White, Pima
Scott Freeman, Maricopa
Michael Perry, Maricopa
Stephen Sossaman, Maricopa
Crystal Russell, Maricopa
Susan Schultz, Maricopa
Christopher Gleason, Pima
Mark Schnepf, Maricopa
Leslie Schwalbe, Maricopa
Lynn Werner, Maricopa
Jeffrey Miller, Pima
Richard Stertz, Pima

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