LRC plan could cost Roswell seats

July 20, 2011 • Local News

The Legislative Redistricting Committee meets Tuesday morning at the Daniels Leadership Center on the New Mexico Military Institute campus. (Mark Wilson Photo)

Roswell may lose representation in both the state Senate and House of Representatives in several scenarios being looked at by the Legislative Redistricting Committee, officials say.

Due to population growth, two new state Senate seats must be created on the west side of Albuquerque, Brian Sanderoff, president of Research and Polling Inc., said during a public hearing with the LRC in Roswell, Tuesday. That means, two other seats have to be consolidated somewhere else, he says.

“One of those seats that should be consolidated should come from Albuquerque, and then the other seat that should be consolidated should come from somewhere on the eastern half of the state,” Sanderoff said.

One scenario out of the eight that have been proposed so far by Research and Polling, the Legislature’s redistricting consultant, suggests consolidating two Roswell-based districts: Sen. Rod Adair’s, R-Roswell, Senate District [auth] 33, and that of Sen. Gay Kergan, R-Hobbs, Senate District 42. Most of Roswell would end up in Senate District 32, that of Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, and the northern part of the city would be situated in Kergan’s district. Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, would also pick up rural areas to the north that are a part of Adair’s district.

“In this one, one of the Roswell seats disappears,” Sanderoff said.

Sanderoff noted that he wasn’t “wild” about this scenario because of the way it stretched out District 42, but said it was his job to present the Legislature with as many options as possible.

“This plan, as our many of the other concepts, are simply examples of what happens to the map when you consolidate different districts,” he said in a later interview. “This map was an example of what would happen if the Roswell seats were consolidated.”

Sanderoff added that Senate District 32 could not be consolidated because it is a minority seat, whereas District 33 is not.

But there is a way to save “all the eastside seats,” Sanderoff said during his presentation — extend all the eastside Senate districts boundaries westward toward Albuquerque into population centers, though “Some of the districts become more awkward, and are stretched out into the population centers,” he said.

Roswell House districts may also be consolidated based on population numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census. The Albuquerque metro area had sufficient population growth to support three additional House seats, which will be accommodated by expanding districts into the metro area, creating new seats in the metro area, or a combination of both.

One proposal suggested providing for the three new seats on the Albuquerque Metro Westside by consolidating neighboring districts that lacked population growth, including one district in the downtown/mid-heights of Albuquerque, one district in the north central/northeastern part of the state, and a third district in southeastern New Mexico.

That would entail consolidating Rep. Nora Espinoza’s, R-Roswell, district with several other districts. Also in that scenario, Rep. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, would pick up the Hondo Valley and additional precincts in Roswell; Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, would pick up parts of Artesia and northeast Eddy County; and Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, would give up all Eddy County precincts but gain precincts in Roswell to create a slightly more compact district.
Another proposal suggests consolidating Kintigh’s district with Wooley’s district and that of Rep. Zachary Cook, R-Ruidoso.

LRC co-chair Sen. Linda Lopez, D- Bernalillo, says the committee has much work to do before even considering one of the scenarios, and that more scenarios will likely be presented in the coming months. The next public hearing is scheduled today in Las Cruces at the Corbett Center at New Mexico State University. Three more public hearings are scheduled for August.

Lawmakers expect to hold a special session in September on redistricting.

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