Phoenix City Council members mull possibility of adding districts

Feb 6, 2023, 11:36 AM
phoenix city hall...
(City of Phoenix Photo)
(City of Phoenix Photo)

PHOENIX — As Phoenix starts its required redistricting process this year, the idea of adding seats the city council is being kicked around.

The council voted unanimously last week to approve a schedule for redistricting, as required every 10 years under city code, that will put a new map into effect in 2024.

“I hope part of the discussion will be looking at some additional council seats so that we have the right kind of representation for our constituents,” Councilwoman Debra Stark said before Wednesday’s vote. “Hopefully, that will be part of the dialogue as we go through the process.”

The current Phoenix districts are among the largest in the country, with about 200,000 residents each, more than most Arizona cities have.

It would be up to voters to decide if the city council should be larger and the districts smaller.

“The composition of the current council is in the charter, and therefore it would have to be referred to the voters for it to change that,” City Clerk Denise Archibald said during Wednesday’s meeting.

In addition to Stark, members Jim Waring, Carlos Garcia, Sal DiCiccio and Yassamin Ansari all said the idea was worth exploring.

“The districts have grown dramatically and will only continue to do so. By 2032, they’re going to be a lot bigger than they are now,” Waring said.

DiCiccio, who is leaving office next month, said he thinks the issue should be addressed now, not in 10 years.

“It’s really hard to represent people with their values and their interests when it’s that large. It’s just a lot harder, and it doesn’t allow for the diversity of opinion as much,” he said.

DiCiccio couldn’t run for reelection in District 6 last year because of term limits, and his successor will be anointed in a March 14 runoff between Kevin Robinson and Sam Stone. District 8 also went to a runoff, with Garcia facing a challenge from Kesha Hodge Washington.

The agenda item approved Wednesday laid out the following schedule for mapping new districts based on 2020 census results:

  • April: Council approves redistricting consultant.
  • April-May: Consultant data gathering and analysis; public meeting schedule development.
  • May-August: Stakeholder meetings (two rounds) and district boundary map proposals.
  • August: Council adopts redistricting plan.
  • January 2024: New district boundaries effective.
  • November 2024: Regular council election using new districts.

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Phoenix City Council members mull possibility of adding districts