House Speaker makes 1st pick for Arizona redistricting panel

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican House Speaker Rusty Bowers has made his choice for one of five seats on the commission that will draw new maps for Arizona's congressional and legislative districts after this year's U.S. Census is completed.

Bowers announced Thursday that he has chosen David Mehl of Pima County to serve as one of two Republicans on the Arizona Redistricting Commission. Mehl is president of a Tucson-based development company.

He chose Mehl from a list of candidates screened by the state Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.

Bowers' pick sets up a series of choices by the other leaders of the House and Senate, which must come a week apart. Democratic House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez picks next, followed by Republican and Democratic leaders of the state Senate.

The two Republicans and two Democrats chosen then must select a chair from among five independents nominated by the appointments commission.

The new commission will be the third to draw new political boundaries under a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2000 to take redistricting out of the hands of the Arizona Legislature.

The redistricting process is politically important because where districts’ lines are drawn can influence what voices are heard and how loudly in the political debate, and how many seats each party can realistically win.