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Does Phoenix need more members on its city council? Voters could decide

Phoenix will soon begin the process of redrawing City Council districts and some members would like to see more seats.

Phoenix’s council is made up of the mayor and eight members. The cities closest in population are San Antonio with a mayor and 10 members, and Philadelphia with 17 members. During Wednesday’s council meeting, several members suggested Phoenix consider adding seats, including Vice Mayor Yassamin Ansari.

“I hope that we can look towards other models as well as we go through this process to make sure that we’re really giving sufficient representation to our constituents and giving council members the sufficient tools to run our offices smoothly,” she said.

Each Phoenix member represents about 200,000 residents, a population equal to the city of Tempe.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio said, “It’s really hard to represent people with their values and their interests when it’s that large, it's just a lot harder and it doesn't allow for the diversity of opinion as much.”

Councilman Jim Waring said the size can make it challenging for people to serve, “It’s really expensive to run. You’ve got council districts where people are raising hundreds of thousands, and collectively millions of dollars to run. Smaller districts might not take that away exactly but I do think it’s something we should at least look at.”

Councilmembers Debra Stark and Carlos Garcia also expressed support for exploring additional council districts. Increasing the council’s size would require voter approval.

A redistricting consultant will analyze data and gather public input before presenting recommendations for the council’s approval later this year. 

The redistricting plan based on a Feb. 1 City Council report:

  • April 2023: City Council approves redistricting consultant.
  • April - May 2023: Consultant data gathering and analysis; Public Meeting schedule development.
  • May - August 2023: Stakeholder meetings (two rounds) and district boundary map proposals.
  • August 2023: City Council adopts redistricting plan.
  • January 2024: New Council District boundaries effective.
  • November 2024: Regular City Council election using new districts.

Public outreach

The proposed schedule maintains all elements of the previous process, including securing a consultant and conducting two rounds of public hearings to gather community comment. 

The first round of public hearings is used to educate the community about the process, gather input to identify communities of interest that desire to be maintained within a single district, and receive input regarding changes to the boundaries. The consultant will use this information when drawing proposed changes to the council districts. 

The second round of hearings seeks comment on the proposed district boundary alternatives developed by the consultant prior to final adoption of the new district boundaries by the City Council.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.