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Nye County Redistricting Committee members appointed

Nye County is entering the redistricting process that comes as a result of the conclusion of the 2020 Census, with a total of seven members appointed to the newly formed Nye County Redistricting Advisory Committee, which will hold its first public meeting next week.

The redistricting process is one in which the current boundaries of the Nye County Commission districts will be reviewed and likely adjusted to account for shifts in population seen over the past 10 years. This is aimed at ensuring that all of the voting districts have an equal number of residents, giving them uniform representation when it comes to electing their county leaders. The district boundaries for the Nye County School District Board of Trustees members may also be redrawn but this will be handled by the school district itself, rather than the county. Other election district boundaries, such as those for the state legislative districts, senate district and congressional districts, will be reviewed as well but these, too, will be handled by entities other than Nye County.

The Nye County Commission was tasked with appointing members to its own redistricting committee during its Tuesday, Oct. 5 meeting. That committee was formed at the suggestion of Nye County Clerk Sam Merlino, who has participated in the redistricting process before and is familiar with the ins and outs of the undertaking.

As originally proposed, the Redistricting Advisory Committee was to be comprised of 11 total members but following the discussion at the Nye County Commission’s Oct. 5 meeting, just seven members were named.

The committee was initially slated to include a member from each of the town boards of Amargosa, Beatty, Tonopah and Round Mountain, as well as three Pahrump residents, two residents from a community outside of Pahrump, one representative from the Nye County School District and the clerk, Merlino.

This was changed, however, by Nye County Commissioner Leo Blundo. As to Merlino’s appointment, he said he felt she would be best placed as an advisor to the committee, rather than as a member. Merlino said she was quite happy to take on the role of consultant and guide for those who will be sitting on the committee as the redistricting process unfolds.

Blundo also made the decision to cut a few other seats from the committee, making the motion to appoint just seven members. The reason, he noted, was that there were no applications submitted from community members residing in a town other than Pahrump and he decided to nix the Round Mountain Town Board member as well, in order to have an odd number of members on the committee.

Those appointed to the redistricting committee on Oct. 5 included Amargosa Town Board member John Bosta, Beatty Town Advisory Board member Randy Reed, Tonopah Town Board member Marc Grigory, Nye County School District representative Cameron McCrae and Pahrump residents Joe Burdzinski, Kameron Mitchell and Brian Shoemake.

The fact that Round Mountain was left out of the committee was one that commission chair Debra Strickland was none too happy with and she attempted to reopen the item regarding committee appointments hours after it was closed, to try to get a representative from that town on the committee. However, the Nye County District Attorney’s Office advised her not to proceed because the item had already been determined and members of the public who were in attendance at the meeting specifically for that item could have left already, leaving the door open for an Open Meeting Law violation. Obviously upset by this, Strickland complied nevertheless, although she did her best to make it known that she was very disappointed.

Blundo, on the other hand, was not at all concerned, remarking that if a Round Mountain member had been appointed, it would have made the committee unbalanced as it would have given the communities outside of Pahrump, which is the largest community in Nye County, more sitting members than those representing the valley.

The argument is not at an end, either, as the Nye County Commission now has a special meeting set for the morning of Tuesday, Oct. 12 with an item on the agenda to appoint both Merlino and a Round Mountain Town Board member to the committee, just an hour and a half before that committee is scheduled to meet itself.

The Nye County Redistricting Advisory Committee will host its first meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 12 beginning at 11 a.m. This meeting is open to the public, which can attend at one of three locations. These include the Nye County Commission Chambers in Pahrump at 2100 E. Walt Williams Drive, the commissioners’ chambers in Tonopah at 101 Radar Road or the Beatty Justice Court at 426 C Avenue South.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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