Removal Of Redistricting Chair Leads To Court Fight
By Mark Brodie
November 03, 2011

Photo courtesy Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
Ousted Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Chairwoman Colleen Mathis.
Photo courtesy state of Arizona
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer

PHOENIX -- The chairwoman of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is asking the court to allow her to keep her job.

The request comes after Governor Jan Brewer and the state senate decided Tuesday to remove her from the panel.

And Arizona isn’t the only state with map-drawing problems. Redistricting efforts in Texas and California have already ended up in court.

The Arizona senate voted with the needed two-thirds majority to oust Colleen Mathis from the commission. The state constitution allows for that vote on the grounds of gross misconduct.

Republican State Senator Steve Pierce said the redistricting panel broke open meeting laws and that Mathis pushed for votes on maps without allowing time to review them.

“I’m from Yavapai County up there, and it’s rural. My people were completely disenfranchised because they’d never seen the maps,” Pierce said. “And it changed our district completely.”

Pierce said it’s the governor’s prerogative to remove a commission member.

Chris Herstam agrees.

But the head of government relations with the law firm Lewis and Roca – and former chief of staff to Governor Fife Symington – said he still doesn’t think she should have done it.

He said some Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation are unhappy with the maps and pressured Brewer and the senate to do something about that.

“I personally don’t think the gross misconduct existed. I think it came down to raw politics,” Herstam said. “They convinced the governor to do it. They want a new congressional map.”

Senator Pierce denies the move was political. He points out the senate did not remove the commission’s two Democrats.

State lawmakers on Tuesday also sent recommendations to the redistricting commission, advising the panel to scrap the draft maps and start over.