By Corinne Murdock |
The Arizona House Government and Elections Committee approved State Representative Jake Hoffman’s (R-Queen Creek) bill to split Maricopa County into four separate counties. The four new counties would be Maricopa, encompassing central Phoenix, Tempe, and Tolleson; Mogollon, encompassing north Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Cave Creek; O’odham, encompassing Buckeye, Peoria, and Surprise; and Hohokam, encompassing Gilbert, Mesa, and Chandler. If signed into law, the current Maricopa County officials would continue jurisdictional operations until boards of supervisors could be established in those three counties. The committee approved the bill along party lines, meaning it barely passed with a 7-6 majority.
Hoffman stated during committee that this would be a fairer representation of current Maricopa County residents, and that any attempts to characterize this bill as a response to a dispute over the 2020 election results was a conspiracy theory. Arizona House Democrats insisted otherwise.
Gubernatorial candidate Steve Gaynor testified during committee that Maricopa County threatened to overtake Arizona the way that similarly-dominant counties in other states have, such as Los Angeles County, California.
“The two largest counties by population in the country, Los Angeles and Cook, are examples of what Maricopa will likely become if action is not taken,” Gaynor testified. “Their governments are wasteful and unresponsive to citizen needs, and they are unpleasant places to live.”
Los Angeles County has a population of over 10 million, while the second-largest county, San Diego County, has over 3.3 million. Similarly, Maricopa County is by far the largest county in Arizona at around 4.5 million residents. The next-largest county, Pima County, doesn’t come close in terms of population count: a little over 1 million. The federal government estimated Arizona’s total population last summer to be around 7.3 million citizens, meaning Maricopa County contains around 62 percent of the state’s population.
Considering the size of its constituency, Maricopa County has only five supervisors, and one of other county officials like sheriff, secretary, and recorder. By comparison, Greenlee County, the least-populous county at under 10,000 residents, has just two less supervisors and the same number of other county-wide officials.
President Joe Biden eked out a victory in Arizona thanks to Maricopa County, earning over 10,400 more votes in the state than former President Donald Trump. Biden won just over 50 percent of the vote in Maricopa County, or over 1.04 million votes, while Trump won over 48 percent of the vote, or 995,000.