How to Write Effective Community of Interest Testimony

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has released official draft legislative and congressional district maps. The commission is requesting feedback from the public to learn what it got right and what it got wrong with these maps. The commissioners are willing to make major changes to these maps before they become final.

There will be a series of public hearings across Arizona to gather input. Individuals will be limited to two minutes. We recommend preparing your testimony in advance, and reading it to the commission at the hearing in your area.

When writing your testimony focus on these points:

  • Introduction
    • Tell the commission who you are, where you live, where you work, where your children go to school, where you spend your free time, etc.
  • Body
    • Inform the commission of your communities of interest
      • Examples include your local school district, your zip code, your children’s sports teams, your local church, where you work, and where you live
      • Your neighborhood, your area, and your town are all communities of interest and when practical they should remain whole
    • Tell the commission to follow the constitution
      • Stress the importance of adhering to all six of the criteria laid out in the Constitution
    • Explain that the previous commission was too focused on competitiveness
      • Lumping people who live in completely different areas together in the same district for the sake of competitiveness is wrong
        • People choose where they live for specific reasons and those communities of interest should be respected
      • 49.5% of the population feels unrepresented when the side with 50.5% wins the district
    • If there was a problem, explain what went wrong 10 years ago with your current legislative and congressional district
    • Inform the commission that the previous maps that were drawn did not have equal population
      • Some districts had 12% more population than others
    • Districts should be compact to accurately represent communities of interest who live and work together
      • People choose where to live in our state based on their interests. The commission should respect that
  • Conclusion
    • Convincing the commission you belong to a community of interest that should not be divided is the goal of your testimony
    • Convincing the commission that your community of interest should not be lumped in with other dissimilar communities is equally important

The commission has specifically called these hearings on communities of interest. That is what they are most interested in hearing about.

Please write no more than 300 words. You will be limited to two minutes and it is important to be to the point.

Once you have a draft, send it to our Statewide Director Jay Wilson at jay@fairmapsarizona.org and he will help you finish it up.

If you need more help writing your draft, review the below example of community of interest testimony:

Hello, my name is [insert your name here], I live in Maricopa County, and I am here today to give you information about my communities of interest.

I live off of Broadway and Mill Avenue in Tempe. My community is made up of college students who attend Arizona State University and and young professionals work in offices along the Tempe Town Lake. We also have many people who commute to work in Central Scottsdale and the Scottsdale Mall.

We gather to support local restaurants and arts and entertainment venues on Mill Avenue and at the Scottsdale Mall. We never travel south into Tempe or norther of Camelback Road. The City of Tempe is very different above Broadway versus below Broadway. This is similar to how the City of Scottsdale is very different below Camelback versus above Camelback. Our urban communities are primarily student housing, apartment buildings, and high rise condominiums. This is very different from the suburban single family housing you will find in southern Tempe and Ahwatukee or in McCormick Ranch and North Scottsdale.

Last time around my community was split into two different legislative districts. The commission’s proposed legislative map has followed that mistake again this time around. North Tempe and South Scottsdale should not be split. We are a single community with shared interests and should be kept whole.

Please keep our community whole in a single congressional district as well. We are an urban community and do not want to be added into a suburban district with North Scottsdale or the City of Mesa. Those areas do not represent our values or respect our priorities.

Furthermore, the districts the previous commission drew were not compact, did not have equal population, and were too focused on competitiveness. I do not want that to happen to us again. Please follow the Arizona Constitution when you are drawing districts this time.

Thank you for your time today.

Remember to be respectful. Giving testimony is a persuasive exercise. Be respectful to the commissioners and lay out your arguments in a calm and collected manner. The commission wants to hear from you, but will only listen if you are being reasonable. Anger and frustration will turn them off.

For one-on-one help with your testimony, please send an draft to our Statewide Director Jay Wilson at jay@fairmapsarizona.org.

Sign up to testify using the following form if you have not already:

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