The debate over Sandoval County Commission redistricting is concerning, not because of the proposed maps but because of the inaccurate narratives some people are using to drive their arguments.
When people adamantly repeat fiction like it’s fact while they’re in a position to know the real facts, you’d better figure out their real aim before you give in to their demands.
A group of certain vocal Democrats has complained that all four of the maps proposed by consultant Rod Adair put the Native American reservations in one district, which they claim gives Natives less voice.
They also complain that those maps split up some of the smaller, southern communities such as Bernalillo, Corrales and Placitas, so that they have less voice.
Those are contradictory statements, claiming splitting communities is good in one case, but bad in another.
Also, at least one member of the vocal group claims that all or most of the Native reservations in one district is a “radical” change. This is patently incorrect.
Under the current commission districts, six of eight Native reservations are in District 5. Moving one or both of the others to District 5 is a relatively minor change.
All it takes to realize that is five minutes looking at the current map and the proposed ones.
Also, why does this vocal group say it’s bad for the small non-Native communities to be divided between districts, but good that Native reservations be split the same way?
The rule of thumb in redistricting is that communities have the strongest voice when they’re wholly in one district, and so it’s best to keep communities of interest together.
Because law requires that districts have close to the same population, splitting a community among multiple districts increases the chances that members of that community will become a minority in that district and see their votes overwhelmed by those of a community with different priorities.
The map that vocal complainants prefer would give Natives no more than 25 percent of the vote in any district, meaning the other 75-plus percent of voters could rule any election or bid for attention from commissioners.
The maps that put all or most of the Native communities in District 5, giving them 41-45 percent of the population there, offer them the strongest voice that would be impossible to ignore.
I agree with the vocal Democrats that it’s also best for the smaller communities to each be contained in a single district, as much as other legally mandated redistricting criteria allow.
I’m not trying to say which map the county commission should choose, and I’m sure there’s room for compromise on any of them.
My aim here is to point out facts some participants of this argument seem to be misunderstanding or misconstruing.
The choice and the argument should be based on facts. To base a decision on inaccuracies or misunderstandings is dangerous for all communities.
For coverage of the commission meeting where maps were debated, see the Nov. 21 Observer or visit rrobserver.com/pueblos-democrats-unhappy.
To see all proposed commission district maps, the current map and break down of demographics for each, visit sandovalcountynm.gov.