How to Write Effective Community of Interest Testimony

The Arizona State Constitution requires the Independent Redistricting Commission to “respect communities of interest” when they draw congressional and legislative district boundaries. To learn about potential communities of interest, the Commission has announced that they will conduct a round of Public Hearings. Click here for the schedule.

The commission will be listening to public testimony at these hearings. Individuals will be limited to three 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 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. When districts are too competitive, nearly half of the population is bound to feel unrepresented.
    • 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.
  • Conclusion
    • Convincing the commission you belong to a community of interest is the goal of your testimony.
    • Combine arguments about the other points with arguments about communities of interest.
    • The commission has specifically called these hearings on communities of interest. That is what they are most interested in hearing about.

Try to write no more than 300 words. You will be limited to three 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 Cochise County, and I am here today to give you information about my communities of interest.

My community works in agriculture, tourism, mining and small businesses across the southern border. Many people work at government border agencies and others in produce and shipping at ports with Mexico. We are a proud lower income community that supports each other through family, churches and other local resources. We have a mining industry in Patagonia which is partnered with local Provisional colleges to train mining jobs.

My community gathers in Nogales, and socializes at churches and schools in that community. We also gather with others in churches and schools in Sonoita. We shop in Nogales and Sierra Vista and access healthcare at clinics and hospitals in those towns. Our food banks are also in those towns. We are rural and use mainly our own transportation to get around. There are many lakes at which we recreate: Parker lake, Patagonia lake and Pena Blanca lake, and we have our county fair in Sonoita. We travel to Mexico frequently.

Last time around my community was split into two different legislative districts. Santa Cruz and Cochise County were split when they should not have been. 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.

Please do not include us in a legislative district with Tucson. My Hispanic community needs to be with other rural border communities. My rural border town has concerns about border security same as Cochise county. We need strong rural law enforcement. We do not share religious and cultural characteristics with “Latinos” in Tucson. We need to be able to develop plans with other border towns with our same job training and employment issues, utilizing our community colleges and small businesses.

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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