This is the redistricting map the Rio Rancho Governing Body picked. Courtesy of the City of Rio Rancho.

The Rio Rancho Governing Body has finalized city council redistricting to a plan that keeps districts as close as possible to the prior arrangement and avoids splitting the Cabezon subdivision between two districts.

In the second and final vote on matter, governing body members voted unanimously for the plan designated E1 during their meeting Wednesday night at City Hall. There was no debate before the vote, but three members of the public had sent emails expressing preference for plans B, C or D.

City, state and federal regulations require redistricting after each federal census every 10 years to ensure equal representation among districts, according to city information. The U.S. Census Bureau released its census redistricting data in August, about five months later than normal.

“The results revealed a population of 104,046 within the City of Rio Rancho, a 19 percent increase from 10 years ago. This increase necessitates the adjusting of population across each of the six council districts,” according to city information.

According to city information, law requires the city have six districts and that each district:

  • Have a population within 5 percent of the average population, determined by dividing the city population by the number of districts;
  • Be a compact, convenient, contiguous territory, not split into multiple geographically divided sections; and
  • Preserve communities of interest as much as “reasonable and practical.”

The city contracted with Research & Polling Inc., and company Vice President Michael Sharp presented five plans in a work session Oct. 19.

“Collectively, the governing body expressed a preference for Plan E, due to its ability to keep like communities together in one district, while minimizing the population deviations across all districts,” according to the information.

Governing body members were concerned because Plan E divided the Cabezon subdivision between two council districts and asked Sharp to adjust the plan to keep the neighborhood in a single district. Plan E1 was the result and meets the legal criteria.

State law requires district changes to happen within the same calendar year the census is released, and the city charter mandates that new districts be used in the first municipal election after the completion of the census, according to city information. The next municipal election is March 1, and candidates must be registered in the proper district by Dec. 1.

In other matters, governing body members:

  • Voted unanimously to add Juneteenth, June 19, to paid holidays for city employees. The federal government instituted the anniversary of enslaved people in the U.S. being emancipated in 1865 as a holiday a few days in advance of the observance this year. The city gave employees the day off although it hadn’t been previously scheduled. City Manager Matt Geisel said adding Juneteenth, for a total of 12 paid holidays, would make the city more competitive in recruiting and retaining employees since other governments in the area have already done so.
  • Awarded a $3.9 million contract to TLC Inc. to replace a 30-year-old water tank in northwest Rio Rancho. Utilities Director Jim Chiasson said the city has a little less than $3 million from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the project and may get additional Corps of Engineers money for the project. Once the tank is replaced, he plans to redrill the well connected to it.
  • Approved a resolution asking that the state legislature put all of Rio Rancho in a single Congressional district during redistricting.
  • Adjusted the budget to use state money to replace the roof at Esther Bone Memorial Library and renovate the infield of Little League Field 7 at the Rio Rancho Sports Complex.