Department of Justice approves new boundaries for Mesa's council districts - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Department of Justice approves new boundaries for Mesa's council districts

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Posted: Tuesday, February 7, 2012 2:11 pm

The U.S. Department of Justice has signed off on Mesa's plans to redraw the city's six City Council districts, which will be in place for a decade beginning with this fall's elections.

The new boundaries had generated complaints in Mesa as high up as the City Council, but the city avoided the kind of contentious debates and legal challenges that were prominent in Arizona's work to redraw congressional and legislative borders.

The new districts will become permanent in about two months, as the Justice Department began a 60-day period on Feb. 1 for legal challenges to be filed.

The proposed boundaries drew criticism last year, when the council-appointed Redistricting Commission had members who were upset over oddly shaped districts. The boundaries stayed, however, because federal law requires districts with large minority populations to keep the same percentage of minorities. Also, each district's population had to change so all districts had roughly 73,000 residents.

The Redistricting Commission voted 3-2 to approve the plans. Council members also raised concerns about the shape of districts, saying some neighborhoods weren't assigned to what seemed to be the most logical district. But the council voted unanimously on Oct. 3 to support the new maps.

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