The Citizens Redistricting Committee has selected the maps that it will forward to an analyst to check against partisan data before being submitted to the legislature for its decision. 

Three maps each were chosen by the Citizens Redistricting Committee for the U.S. House congressional delegation, state senate and state house maps.

The first congressional map matches the status quo, dividing the state north and south with Torrance and Bernalillo counties comprising District 1.

The second congressional District, called the Justice Chavez Map, brings parts of District 3 south to equalize the populations while splitting the Navajo Nation between Districts 2 and 3 at the request of the Nation, pueblos and Apache tribes. 

The third map extends District 1 south to Roswell. The description from the Redistricting Commission states this map was created with backing of a collection of community-based organizations throughout the state led by the Center for Civic Policy.

The Center said in a press release this map creates a strong Hispanic district in District 2 while keeping the change in populations in the District at .01 percent.

“The 2020 Census informs us that, nearly half of New Mexico’s population is Hispanic/Latino, ranking it first among all 50 states,” the release states. “Accordingly, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify New Mexico not having at least one of its three congressional districts with a strong Hispanic majority.”

The map also preserves the northern District’s boundaries.

All three of the senate district maps maintain the status quo in the north with Los Alamos being with Española, while White Rock is in the Santa Fe District. 

The Center for Civic Policy supported a House district map as well.

Lisa Curtis was the Commission member to put the map forward, calling it a “community of interest map” because of its focus on what are currently underrepresented communities in New Mexico’s legislature.

Politics remain

Ryan Cagilosi brought up several issues with the map.

“We are to draw maps without partisan data, Cagilosi said. “The Center for Civic Policy, I cannot assure [their maps] were done without partisan data. They came to every meeting. I appreciate that they were very well organized but I disagree with what they said. This map makes a majority government into a super majority.”

Commission member Christopher Saucedo said he really didn’t understand the amount of dialogue this map produced.

“I do not understand all the public comment for and against this map? Why does this map accomplish what others do not?” Saucedo said. “There’s a deviation of 6 percent, less guaranteed minority districts, not a reason to reject.  I don’t get it, but we heard a lot of comment on it, which tells me there is something I don’t know.”

Commission member Michael Sanchez said he didn’t doubt partisan data was looked at by outside proponents of the map, but that partisan data was also the reason they had comments against the map.

“There is no doubt that the proponents of the map are looking at things differently than we are but so are the opponents of the map,” Sanchez said. “This map does protect the Hispanic population but not as much as I would like.”

Sanchez pointed out the Commission set a goal of shifting the populations of districts by no more than 5 percent, and while the plan shifted the populations about 6 percent, that was a self-imposed limitation. The legislature put a legal cap of population shifts at 10 percent. 

The Commission also shifted some parts of the map such as the District location of Las Vegas at the request of the New Mexico Acequia Association - the initial proposal cut the town in half. This process took proposed precincts away from House District 40, currently held by Roger Montoya. The Acequia Association expressed concerns that the added areas from the northeastern plains would change the character of District 40 and weaken the influence of the mountain and rural communities currently comprising the district.

At a previous Commission meeting, Montoya testified to the size of his district creating issues as well as the fact that although it looks contiguous on a map, because it covers mountainous areas it is not contiguous by roads. 

Sovereignty issue

The other two maps provided to the legislature for consideration are status quo maps with minor adjustments for population shifts. One has additional changes proposed by the Navajo Nation and the other has changes proposed from the pueblo consensus map.

Commissioner Robert Rhatigan said he had some concerns regarding the Native American Nations’ sovereignty and changing their maps.

“I feel it is unfortunate that the pueblos, Apaches and Navajo couldn’t not come to a consensus,” Rhatigan said. I don’t think it’s our place to make these decisions.”

 Chair Edward Chávez said he agreed with the sentiment on the Redistricting Committee’s role when it came to the Native American districts. 

“I think we should move this forward and let the legislature handle it,” Chávez said.

New Mexico Acequia Association Director Paula Garcia compared this Commission process to the previous Redistricting Committee’s she observed 10 and 20 years ago in the legislature. 

“Redistricting is something that’s very relevant to us,” she said. “It’s important to have representation that is responsive. I felt like it was very transparent and very engaging. Having a Citizen Committee gave more opportunity to the public to give input, more then past years.”

Garcia said the Acequia Association submitted several of its own maps but were only of the northern regions of the state, so they submitted a modified version of a map created by the Center for Civic Policy that they felt closely matched the Acequia Association’s goals.

“Our primary objective was for rural communities with high numbers of acequias to remain undiluted and make sure we didn’t lose representation,” Garcia said. “Especially as there has been low population growth and even decline in our acequia communities.” 

Of the four original State House District maps, three of them eliminated either district 40 or 70 which Garcia identified as communities of interest for the Acequia Association. 

“Even though there was some population lost, it was possible to redraw the districts,” Garcia said.

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