Civic center hosting redistricting meeting

Kevin Wilson

If there is any consensus to be found with redistricting coming up this fall, it’s uncertainty.

Among representatives and analysts, there’s nothing guaranteed regarding how the Legislature does its decennial organization of its 70 House seats and 42 Senate seats, along with congressional districts and districts for city councils and commissions and school boards.

The Clovis Civic Center will be host to one of many public meetings across the state with the state’s redistricting committee.

The meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 18, and will include an overview of redistricting, concepts of the upcoming redistricting process and a public comment section.

Similar meetings also follow July 19 in Roswell and July 20 in Las Cruces.

Clovis and Portales both saw gains between the 2000 Census and the 2010 Census — 15.6 percent and 10.3 percent, respectively.

But the gains weren’t nearly those of the state’s more urban areas. That could spell combining of rural districts, since the state wants equitable populations in every district.

“It’s a possibility,” said Michael Sharp, vice president of Albuquerque-based Research and Polling. “There are a bunch of different options. The eastern side has not experienced the same growth as the Albuqerque/Rio Rancho area, or Dona Ana County.”

Those areas, which were larger than eastern New Mexico beforehand, saw much larger increases — including a 69.1 percent spike for Rio Rancho.

Research and Polling has created a deviation map, based on target populations for new Senate and House districts. The deviation assumes a population of 49,028 for Senate districts, and 29,417 for House districts.

Rep. Anna Crook said current districts that stay within 5 percent of that number should be fine. Documents Research and Polling has prepared for an upcoming Curry County Commission meeting indicate a desire to avoid having districts with deviation of more than 10 percent.

“It’s something you absolutely do not know,” Crook said. “My numbers are down about 1,300, but it’s within the 5 percent. But Dennis Roch (Dist. 67) is down appreciably (negative deviation of 14.9 percent). You just never know.”

Some Albuquerque legislators saw their constituent base double, and it will be a task to divide those districts and combine rural districts, all while making sure populations stay equitable and make sure a district isn’t a mashing of urban and rural citizens who may want very different things from their legislators.

Talk during the regular legislative session focused on the possibility of some of eastern New Mexico moving from the 3rd Congressional District to the 2nd Congressional District.

Sharp said during the last redistricting, one factor helping put eastern New Mexico in the 3rd District was Cannon Air Force Base, and a desire to keep one Air Force base in each district (Kirtland in NM-1, Holloman in NM-2 and Cannon in NM-3). But there’s no guarantee that practice would be applied again.