Sunday, August 1, 2010

Redistricting: There Is Another Way

This morning the Albuquerque Journal ran a story summarizing the redistricting process. Redistricting will happen next year. Trapped firmly in the box, the Journal only described the existing redistricting process and failed to mention a movement around the country for creating independent commissions to handle redistricting, the process of shuffling district boundaries to accommodate new census counts. In the January 2010 issue, Capitol Report New Mexico discussed the topic.
Before the primary I used my newspaper column to pose questions to the then six candidates for governor. Ten newspapers around the state subscribe to the column. The papers include those in Hobbs, Roswell, Raton, Espanola, Farmington and Gallup. Sometimes the papers post the column.
The redistricting column ran in early May.
In general redistricting is baldly “political,” especially in New Mexico. Incumbents protect their own. In New Mexico, Democrats protect their significant majorities in both houses of the legislature. Republicans go along, more or less, to protect Republican incumbents, thereby ensuring their continued minority status.
The question for the redistricting column was, “Will you introduce legislation in the 2011 regular session of the Legislature creating an independent commission to handle redistricting of congressional, legislative and other districts? Why or why not?”
Diane Denish: Redistricting is the legal responsibility of the governor and Legislature. That said, I would be open to an independent redistricting committee that would serve in an advisory capacity. Redistricting is an opportunity to ensure fair representation for all New Mexicans. More important than raw partisanship, that means having a redistricting plan that makes sense geographically and ensures that diverse, economically disadvantaged and rural communities have fair representation.
Susana Martinez: I support legislation sponsored by Keith Gardner which amends the New Mexico Constitution and establishes a bipartisan redistricting commission that draws lines for Congressional and state legislative districts consistent with federal and statutory requirements and based on the most recent federal, decennial Census. I support this legislation because too often politics drives this process and detracts from critical discussions like reducing our state’s historic budget deficit and turning our economy around while rooting out corruption.

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