County voting districts to be realigned

Courtesy illustration Curry County Commission districts must be adjusted to compensate for growth shown in the 2010 census. The commission was given four possible plans during a Monday special meeting.

Sharna Johnson

Monday began the first of three hearings to determine redistricting of Curry County — an issue to be decided by the commission Sept. 29.

Population changes shown in the 2010 Census require districts in the county — in which residents vote for commissioners to represent them — to be realigned so that each of the five has the same number of residents, said Michael Sharp of Research & Polling Inc.

Sharp gave commissioners a presentation during a special meeting Monday in the North Annex of the Clovis-Carver Library. He outlined four proposals and explained why redistricting is needed and what it involves.

Under law, districts must have equal populations within them, with a plus or minus margin of 5 percent, he said.

The county grew 7.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, Sharp said. The growth affected three of Curry County’s five districts and necessitates redistricting.

Sharp said District Five, which covers the eastern side of the county, grew 19.8 percent. District Three, covering the midwestern section of the county shrank by 27 percent, and District Four in the southwestern portion of the county grew 6.9 percent.

The four proposals Sharp presented range from slight boundary movements to complete realignment.

Commissioner Frank Blackburn pointed out that under some of the proposals, commissioners’ residences had been moved to different districts.

“You’ve got me and Wendell (Bostwick) in the same district,” he said.

Under state law, a commissioner must reside in the district they are elected to represent, Sharp said.

However, Sharp said that a commissioner will serve the district they were elected to represent until the term expires, even if redistricting moves them to another district.

Commission Chairman Caleb Chandler said the next hearing on the redistricting proposals is Aug. 23 and the third and final hearing will be Sept. 29, at which time the commission will vote on a redistricting plan.

County Manager Lance Pyle told commissioners the redistricting will not present an additional cost to the county because all registered voters will be mailed new voter registration cards prior to the June 2012 primary elections, regardless of redistricting.

Pyle also said the district plans will be available on the county website for residents to review prior to the hearings.

Residents who wish to give input can either contact Pyle or attend the hearings, said County Attorney Stephen Doerr.

In other business, commissioners:

• Heard a report on the Melrose Health Clinic. La Casa spokesman Seferino Montano said staff have been hired for the clinic and are being trained with an anticipated opening date of Monday.

• Heard an update on the a road improvement project on Curry roads S and 7. Project Manager David Owsley said surveys have been done and other requirements have to be met with the state to begin the project. He said he anticipates the work will begin by the end of September after final approval is received from the state, with completion by November or December.