The redistricting committee met for the final time on the evening of Wednesday, June 29, voting to send all eight proposed maps to the Albuquerque City Council for consideration. The committee also sent a ranked vote of the eight maps to the council, with concept map A having the most support.
The maps and rankings will not be heard by the full City Council until their first meeting in September. Councilors do not have a deadline on a decision, and could still alternatively create their own map, according to Petra Morris, associate director of planning and policy development.
The meeting started off by listening to both written and verbal public comments where multiple community members, including members from Native Vote and New Mexico nonprofit Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, voiced support for citizen map 5 — dubbed the “Fairness for our Future” map. A large majority of the public comment also called for adequate representation of the Hispanic community.
Gabriel Sanchez, a professor of political science at the University of New Mexico, gave a presentation during the public comment that highlighted the current inequity of the City Council; the council is only 22.2% Hispanic despite Hispanics making up 49.4% of the city’s population. Sanchez also demonstrated other inequities faced by the Hispanic population including lower levels of health care coverage and economic status — all issues citizen map 5 could help to address.
“(Citizen map 5) will increase the number of Latino-influenced districts to four, which would give Hispanics greater representation and adequate descriptive representation in line with the Voting Rights Act. And I believe, at the end of the day, it will potentially help eradicate some of the inequalities facing the Hispanic population,” Sanchez said.
Citizen map 5 is the only map to create a fourth Hispanic-majority district, although numerous committee members in closing comments expressed that there are other ways to ensure diverse representation in the city government.
“I do wholeheartedly believe we need to work on that Hispanic majority, and I think that there are other ways that we can accomplish that,” committee alternate Luis Hernandez Jr. said.
The map that gained the most committee support, though, was concept map A, which is aimed at creating the least amount of change from the current map so as not to confuse voters, while accounting for growing population size. The map's district population sizes range from 60,380 to 64,510 people.
The map has three Hispanic-majority districts, with District 2 crossing the river to make the districts on the west side smaller, according to Brian Sandoval from Research and Polling, Inc.
Committee member Keith Romero proposed for all maps to be delivered to the City Council for consideration, as he remains an advocate for citizen map 5 and felt as though the number of public comments in support attested to the community’s support of the map as well.
“I think, fundamental to this whole democratic ideal of equitable representation, is a well-informed public through this transparent process. That's why I encourage us to air on the side of inclusion … I’m an advocate for the Fairness for our Future map; it’s in the name,” Romero said.
Some committee members believed that presenting all of the options to the City Council would set the process back and defeat the purpose of having the committee in the first place.
“While I understand the desire to be inclusive and send all the maps, I feel like we may have set back months of work that we've all put into this by giving them so many options,” alternate Rebecca Latham said.
Community member Lan Sena was one of the voices in support of the map during the public comment.
“In a city where we pride ourselves on our diversity and being this model of minority-majority, (Hispanic communities) only have two seats at the table in which policy and investments are made. (It’s) a tragedy. Anything less than four seats at the table which, again, is not a majority, continues a system which harms and dilutes the power of our communities of color,” Sena said.
Madeline Pukite is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. They can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter @maddogpukite