Council OKs new district map

Las Cruces Sun-News (NM) - Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Author: Reyes Mata III
LAS CRUCES - The Las Cruces City Council on Tuesday adopted the redistricting plan that will be used as the city's 10-year map for its elections and political representation. 

The council held a quick discussion of the two redistricting plans - F2 and F3 - before voting 5-2 in favor of Plan F2. 

Voting against Plan F2 were councilors Miguel Silva and Dolores Connor. Councilors Olga Pedroza, Nathan Small, Gill Sorg, Sharon Thomas and Mayor Ken Miyagishima all voted in favor of Plan F2 during the 1 p.m. regular council meeting at City Hall. 

Small said that plan best addressed all interests. 

"I think we struck a good balance that can benefit the city and residents," he said. "It does the best at representing different interests. It invests multiple counselors in core and historic neighborhoods, it works hard to keep communities together, and it gives us the chance to address some long-standing issues, like traffic." 

Becky King, a resident of District 4, addressed council during the public discussion and said she agreed that F2 brought more political symmetry to the city. 

"I feel it would create a more balanced situation," she said. 

Both plans were remarkable in their similarities, but Silva said he saw a clear distinction. "The difference is maintaining and keeping the Alameda District intact," said Silva, who had been a vocal supporter of plan F3 because he said he preferred to have both of downtown's historic districts under a single council seat, which was one of the primary components of Plan F3. 

Silva made a motion to adopt Plan F3, which was then given a second by Connor. She then voted "no" to the motion she had seconded only moments before. 

Prior to her vote, Connor said that City Council had been too quick to eliminate other plans early in the discussion period. "Today we only have two options," she said, alluding to plans F2 and F3. "And that will reflect my vote." 

Shortly afterward, she voted "no" to Plan F3 - a motion she had seconded - and again voted "no" to Plan F2, which ultimately was adopted. 

Upon adoption of the F2 redistricting plan, the Las Cruces City Clerk will now make preparations for an Aug. 1 resolution that calls for the November city election. This election will follow the district map set out by the adopted plan. 

"Now that council has chosen that particular plan, the city clerk knows how to publish the new council boundaries. Candidates will likewise know what district they reside in," said Robert Garza, Las Cruces city manager. 

Every 10 years, Census figures are used to create new district boundaries to accommodate growing populations and shifting demographics in order to make sure everyone's vote has equal leverage and effect. 

The last time redistricting in Las Cruces was done - in 2001 - the city had a population of 74,267. The average population size for each district back then was 12,378. 

Today's Las Cruces population is 97,618 - representing a 31.4 percent jump. 

Reyes Mata III can be reached at (575) 541-5452. 

By the numbers 

New Las Cruces City Council districts by population: 

•District 1: 15,814 

•District 2: 15,566 

•District 3: 16,055 

•District 4: 16,211 

•District 5: 17,024 

•District 6: 16,998