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Bill would slice county in three--see attached map

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Los Alamos: One of the 11 proposals breaks up District 43 and absorbs portions of Santa Fe and Sandoval counties

By Carol A. Clark

A 16-page redistricting bill, which Rep. Brian F. Egolf, D-Santa Fe introduced Thursday at the 2011 special legislative session, will divide Los Alamos County’s House District 43 into three districts.

Egolf introduced HB 21 despite the fact that a contingent of Los Alamos community leaders traveled to Highlands Universityin Las Vegas last week to implore the Legislative Redistricting Committee to leave Los Alamos intact.

To pad the district’s population to reach the required 29,000, Egolf proposes blending Los Alamos County precincts 1 through 5, 7 through 13 and 17 with Sandoval County precincts 7, 10 and 51 and Santa Fe County precincts 5, 12, 40, 80 and 86.

But it’s nowhere near a done deal yet.

“I was very sorry to see this bill put forward in spite of unanimous comment by all of the Los Alamos officials that Los Alamos is a community of interest and should be represented by one individual,” said Rep. Jim Hall, R-Los Alamos, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties. “It seems to me to be the worst example of partisan politics since the senate under Manny Aragon partitioned Los Alamos into three districts.”

Hall replaced longtime Rep. Jeannette Wallace who died in April.

“I think Los Alamos should be kept as a competitive district … it’s a community of interest  that should be represented by one person and that person should be well versed in Los Alamos National Laboratory activities and who has local government experience serving on county council and the like,” Hall said.

County Council Chair Sharon Stover described HB 21 as “being like deja vu for what we experienced 20 years ago when they split up the senate.”

“We know there’ll be other bills introduced on this issue, some we’ll like and some we won’t,” Stover said.
The Legislative Redistricting Committee hired consultant Brian Sanderoff to research and create several maps depicting a variety of scenarios for each community. Sanderoff created nine maps — all of which retain Los Alamos and White Rock as one district. All nine scenarios are considered bills along with HB 21 and the Republican version will be discussed in committee.

“We want the community to know that our lobbyist, Scott Scanland, is watching this process closely and keeping us informed,” Stover said. “We are all working very hard to ensure Los Alamos remains one district.”

The Republican members of the house also are working on a redistricting bill of their own.

Stover and other local officials met last week with Gov. Susana Martinez to discuss the importance of keeping District 43 intact and she said they intend to meet with Martinez again soon.

“We don’t have comment on the redistricting bills at this time, except to say that the Governor believes districts should be fair and competitive, where people have the opportunity to select their leaders, not just the other way around,” said spokesman Scott Darnell.

Egolf could not be reached for comment.

Constitutionally, the Special Legislative Session lasts for only 30 days. The House Voters & Elections Committee, which meets at 8:30 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays in Room 305 at the Roundhouse, will review HB 21 before it moves to the Judicial Committee. If it passes those two committees, the bill will go to a vote in the house and on to the governor to approve or veto.

John Severance contributed to this report.

House Voters and Elections Committee

Chair Rep. Mary Helen Garcia
Vice Chair Rep. Danice Picraux
Rep. Thomas A. Anderson
Rep. Nate Gentry
Rep. Conrad D. James
Speaker Ben Lujan
Rep. James Roger Madalena
Rep. W. Ken Martinez
Rep. William “Bill” R. Rehm
Rep. Debbie A. Rodella
Rep. Edward C. Sandoval
Rep. James E. Smith
Rep. Shirley A. Tyler

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Legislature map..pdf190.03 KB