STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – House Speaker Rusty Bowers (R-Mesa) announced late last week his selection of David Mehl to serve on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC).
“Over the past week, I met with and interviewed each of the Republican finalists,” Speaker Bowers said. “We’re blessed to have such an impressive slate of individuals from which to choose – with each possessing positive attributes that would serve the commission well. I have selected David Mehl. David will bring remarkable experience and leadership to the commission, as well as a profound appreciation for the monumental importance of this duty. I have immense confidence that he will apply the skill and standards that have been a hallmark of his professional success so that he will fulfill this crucial constitutional responsibility to achieve a fair result that reflects our great state.”
David Mehl, a Pima County resident, is the longtime president and owner of Cottonwood Properties, a Pima County-based residential and commercial property development company, which he co-founded with his late brother. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1972 and earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. Mehl is an active member of the Urban Land Institute and a member of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council. He served on the school board for the Pusch Ridge Christian Academy for 18 years and currently sits on the board of Good News Communications.
“I am honored to be selected by Speaker Bowers to serve on the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission,” said Mr. Mehl. “I look forward to the important work ahead and pledge to carry out my responsibilities as a member of the commission with integrity and fairness for the good of all Arizonans.”
Republican insiders saw well-known and well-respected, Mehl as a top choice for the Republicans. He’s the owner and president of Cottonwood Properties, that is best known for the development of upscale Dove Mountain Master Planned Community in Marana. He was one of the top vote-getters at the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, which vets IRC candidates and selected to be one of the by the panel, receiving 13 votes from the 14 members who attended the Oct. 9th meeting where Democratic and Republican finalists were selected.
Commissioner Jonathan Paton called him a “pillar of southern Arizona,” while Commissioner Laura Ciscomani praised his work with SALC, saying, “They have a broad reach. When they speak up everyone listens.” Ciscomani and Paton both hail from Tucson.
Each applicant was asked how he or she would balance competitiveness and communities of interest, two of the constitutional criteria the IRC must use to draw districts, with some appellate commissioners and the only criteria that gives the public an opportunity to provide meaningful input into the process.
Communities of interest cannot be defined using data alone, their members have an integral role to play and can raise issues that the commission might otherwise overlook. A community of interest is defined as an area with recognized similarities of interests, including but not limited to racial, ethnic, economic, social, cultural, geographic, or historic identities, communities of interest shall not include common relationships with political parties or political candidates.
Mehl said communities of interest should drive most of the decisions at the AIRC — the constitution says the commission must consider competitiveness, but only if it doesn’t harm the other five criteria — but that the commission should pay heed to geographic considerations, as well. He cited the 1st Congressional District, which stretches from the northern Tucson area to the state line with Utah, as an example of what not to do.
“When you have districts like today with Flagstaff and Marana in the same congressional district, that just doesn’t seem reasonable,” he said. "I’m an Arizonan foremost,” Mehl told the screening panel.
House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, (D-Yuma) will now have a week (Oct. 29) from Bowers making his selection to make the next pick to the AIRC and will choose from the following Democrats:
- Grant Buma, a retired hydrology engineer from Prescott
- Ernest Calderón, a Phoenix attorney and former Arizona Board of Regents Chairman
- Bryan Cooperrider, a surveyor with the United States Geological Survey in Flagstaff
- Donald Evans, a retired Veterans’ Affairs service representative and former nursing services director who lives in Scottsdale.
- Robert Kovitz, a Tucson businessman and Army veteran who served at NATO Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
- Shereen Lerner, a Mesa Community College anthropology professor and former state historic preservation officer
- James Robbins, chief administrative officer at Catholic Charities in Phoenix
- Derrick Watchman, who runs a banking and financial services company in Window Rock, is the former CEO of Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprises and a former chief of staff to the Navajo Nation executive branch
- Maxine White, a retired Bank of America employee relations consultant who lives in Phoenix
- Teresa Wyatt, a former Arizona Department of Health Services employee who retired in 2014 as director of rehabilitation services at Children’s Clinics for Rehabilitative Services in Tucson
Once Fernandez makes her choice, Senate President Karen Fann, (R-Prescott) will then have a week to select from among the remaining nine Republican finalists:
- Jonathan Allred, a Mesa resident and head of legal at the microschool services provider Prenda
- Scott Crouch, a businessman and real estate broker from Phoenix
- Lisa Davis, a Tempe resident who owns an architecture, interior and urban design firm
- Paul Djurisic, a Scottsdale attorney
- Kevin Kopp, a Phoenix resident and partner in a commercial real estate investment firm
- Brandi Oveson, a high school history teacher in St. Johns
- Walter “Randy” Schoch, a restaurant management company owner who lives in Paradise Valley
- Michael Striplin, a Tucson resident and 27-year Army veteran who retired after years in business development at Boeing
- Douglas York, the president and CEO of an irrigation and landscape supply company who lives in Phoenix.
Once the four partisan commissioners are chosen, they elect a chair from among the five independent finalists:
- Megan Carollo, the owner of a luxury floral boutique in Scottsdale
- Thomas Loquvam, general counsel and vice president of corporate services at the utility company EPCOR. He previously served as general counsel at Pinnacle West, the parent company of Arizona Public Service.
- Erika Schupak Neuberg, a psychologist with a practice in Scottsdale who serves as a national board member for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
- Gregory Teesdale, an Oro Valley resident and former executive at venture capital companies
- Robert Wilson, who owns a business consulting practice and gun store in Flagstaff
Bowers didn’t have to make a selection until Jan. 31, by making his selection early, Bowers significantly sped up the timeline for selections of applicants to be made and the redistricting process to begin.