Redistricting commission begins search for executive director

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The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission began its search for executive director, the first of several major hires it must make before it gets down to the business of drawing congressional and legislative districts.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the AIRC approved a job description and potential salary for the executive director, as well as an administrative assistant whom he or she will help hire.

The executive director’s duties will include organizing the commission’s meetings and day-to-day activities, establishing policies and procedures for the AIRC, hiring and supervising staff, working with other governmental entities and advising the commission on various issues. The next executive director will be paid at least $121,000.

The IRC will advertise the position for up to 21 days on the state’s job openings website. Once the commission is done accepting applications, it tentatively plans to winnow the list down to a group of between three and five finalists and conduct largely public interviews before making a decision.

Once the commission hires its executive director, it plans to move forward on other priorities such as revamping what Chairwoman Erika Neuberg called the AIRC’s “stale and outdated” website, establishing social media policies and making other key hires. The commissioners said they’d prefer to wait until after they hire an executive director to pick an administrative assistant, a decision in which the executive director would take a lead role. That job will pay at least $53,000

Commission Chairwoman Erika Neuberg said she’s spoken with Ray Bladine, the previous AIRC’s executive director, and Kristina Gomez, who served as his deputy. She encouraged the other commissioners to speak with them, as well.

After the commission makes those two hires, it can move forward on hiring legal counsel, a potentially controversial decision that was a source of early discord on the previous commission. The commissioners have already expressed their preference to hire both Democratic and Republican counsel, following the trend set by the first two AIRCs in 2001 and 2011.

The Attorney General’s Office has already provided the AIRC with a list of law firms that the state contracts with, though staff from the Arizona Department of Administration advised that the commissioners could choose legal counsel from outside that list. The commissioners decided to put off further discussion of legal counsel until next week, once the commissioners have had time to review the list from the Attorney General’s Office.

“I’d like to make sure that, not only do I represent the consensus-building of the Rs and Ds, but I actually also represent what is 32% of the Arizona registered voters, which are the unaffiliated, also known as the independents,” Neuberg said.

The commission also approved Nueberg’s selection of office space in the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality’s downtown Phoenix building. Neuberg said the rent will cost just under $50,000 per year.

Commission meetings are tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. every Tuesday, but the next two meetings will be at different times due to scheduling conflicts with two commissioners. The Feb. 16 meeting will begin at 8 a.m. and the Feb. 23 meeting will begin at 2 p.m.

Jeremy Duda
Associate Editor Jeremy Duda is a Phoenix native and began his career in journalism in 2003 after graduating from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Arizona Mirror, he worked at the Arizona Capitol Times, where he spent eight years covering the Governor's Office and two years as editor of the Yellow Sheet Report. Before that, he wrote for the Hobbs News-Sun of Hobbs, NM, and the Daily Herald of Provo, Utah. Jeremy is also the author of the history book “If This Be Treason: the American Rogues and Rebels Who Walked the Line Between Dissent and Betrayal.”