Uncertainty rises as Maricopa County Supervisors split Tempe into 2 districts

Tempe, traditionally in Maricopa County Supervisors District 1, has been divided between District 1 and District 2. –Maricopa County graphic

Tempe, traditionally fully represented in Maricopa County Board of Supervisors District 1, has been split in redistricting approved by the board last week.

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The southern portion of the city, essentially south of University Drive, remains in District 1, where Jack Sellers is the supervisor.

The northern portion of the city moves into District 2, where Thomas Galvin is the supervisor.

Jack Sellers

It could be a double-edge sword for Tempe. On one hand, its interests are now divided in representation. On the other, it has two voices on the five-district board instead of one.

Tempe Mayor Corey Woods sent a letter to Sellers expressing his concern about the split. Sellers said he also has spoken to members of Tempe City Council who also are concerned about ramifications of the change.

“If we were back in the early days, where we had cities competing with one another for sales-tax initiatives and those kinds of things, I think it could be a problem,” Sellers said. “But today, we all work together. I can see where it might be a problem if you had supervisors who thought they were competing between districts but that isn’t the way we work. Even with the fact we have four Republicans and one Democrat on our board, we typically don’t do anything that infringes on somebody else’s work. We’re all very supportive of one another.”

Sellers pointed out that he and Galvin, a fellow Republican, share Gilbert and Queen Creek effectively in the current alignment before the new one becomes effective in Jan. 1, 2024.

Sellers said that after hearing from the mayor and Council of Tempe, he went back to the interactive maps to see “what we would have to do for me to keep all of Tempe.”

“I really would like to do that. I love working with them. We have a great partnership there,” Sellers said. “The bottom line, as we talked through these things it created other problems that we can’t solve easily.”

State law requires the Board of Supervisors to redistrict after each decennial census. Because supervisor district lines match Special Health Care and Community College Districts, changes made to supervisor boundaries impact those two districts, as well.

Supervisors approved district-boundary adjustments using a formula guided by federal and Arizona laws to account for population and demographic changes over the previous decade.  Among those requirements are that districts be drawn with a goal of not more than a 5 percent difference in population and in no event more than a 10 percent difference in population; be geographically compact and contiguous to the extent practicable; respect communities of interest to the extent practicable; and use visible geographic features, city and town boundaries and undivided census tracts to the extent practicable.

The county Elections Department and supervisors prepared seven draft redistricting maps for consideration.

“I think Tempe will be happy with Tom sharing Tempe with me,” Sellers said. “I recognize that with him being an attorney he has strengths that I don’t have, and me being the infrastructure guy I have strengths that he won’t have. If anything comes up that I think he’s better at, I talk to him about it, and if I think it’s better for him to talk directly to the people than me, we’ll have him talk to them.”

District 5 Supervisor Steve Gallardo, the Board’s only Democrat, was critical of the new map, calling it “a step backward for many communities of interest in Maricopa County, including Latino voters as a whole.”

“Tempe, which has always been considered a community of interest, has been split up, diluting the ability of its residents to speak with one voice,” Gallardo said in a statement. “I appreciate the difficulty of redistricting and the work that went into that effort. But let’s face it, Maricopa County is not 80 percent Republican and it’s way more than 20 percent Latino.

“Maricopa County district boundaries should reflect that reality.”

Galvin did not respond to a request for comment.

Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell
Lee Shappell became a journalist because he didn’t become a rocket scientist! He exhausted the math courses available by his junior year in high school and earned early admission to Rice University, intending to take advantage of its relationship with the Johnson Space Center and become an aerospace engineer. But as a high school senior, needing a class to be eligible for sports with no more math available, he took student newspaper as a credit and was hooked. He studied journalism at the UofA and has been senior reporter, copy desk chief and managing editor at several Valley publications.


  1. If Tempe Mayor Corey Woods is concerned about it it’s probably a good idea. Hopefully this change will help protect Tempe residents from Mayor Woods and city council members who are determined to turn this city into a big vagrant encampment.

  2. So it sounds like Tempe joins Gilbert and Queen Creek in being split across multiple supervisors? That doesn’t seem “to use City and town boundaries to the extent possible”.
    Looks more like fracturing the towns politically if a future election results in a Republican and Democrat having the two districts of the same city or town.
    Smells like the crazy legislative district changes several years ago, intended to favor one party over the other…
    Will be “interesting” when the real politics behind this change are revealed…


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