Though I was not there, it almost felt like I was. And I wanted to be.
Bullhead City's council chambers are equipped with multiple cameras and good audio. Because of the higher resolution video and plenty of bandwidth, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's Public Outreach Hearing was easy to follow tonight.
After Willie Desmond, from Strategic Telemetry, made his presentation, mayors and council members from Bullhead City, Kingman and Lake Havasu City started the public comment. They were gracious and welcoming. Hmmm... that was one thing missing last night in Mesa. No hosting members of local governments to set the tone at the Mesa Convention Center.
Anyway, state Sen. Ron Gould (R-LD3), in my opinion, as the first state lawmaker to speak tonight, also set an important tone by respectfully addressing the two Democratic AIRC Commissioners, Jose Herrera and Linda McNulty.
Frank Antenori, Terri Proud and Andy Biggs take notice. Oh, yeah, and professional political organizer Lynne St. Angelo, you too. Your tired screed has more than run its course. Give it up. The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission IS legitimate. It is ON COURSE and it will do its job.
Tonight, the most emphatic common theme to emerge is that Mohave County does NOT want to be represented in Congress by someone from Maricopa County. Gould expressed deference to Rep. Trent Franks, the Peoria (AZ) Republican currently representing Arizona's 2nd Congressional district. But other speakers were more clear and specific that they want someone actually FROM rural Arizona to represent them.
Several people specifically stated they do not feel common bond with either Phoenix or Tucson. But ALL of those who testified did so with dignity and decorum. Unlike those at previous hearings who mindlessly repeated tea party propaganda.
BUT -- tonight, even when a Democrat or two disagreed with other speakers, the crowd was still polite and focused.
Another note about last night in Mesa: as I entered the hearing room, a tea partier tried to give me a sheet of paper with their talking points. I declined. Today, however, I heard that said paper was fashioned to give the impression it was from the AIRC itself, using the banner or logo from the Commission's web page. More fodder for the question of "how low will they go?"
Thanks to current Arizona lawmakers Ron Gould and Nancy McLain as well as the mayors and council members who spoke, that question is not the only one, regarding redistricting in Arizona this year, we have to consider anymore.