LA to remain whole in state House redistricting court decision

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By John Severance

SANTA FE, N.M.— A state district judge has approved a plan for drawing new boundaries of state House of Representative districts that will pair two Republican incumbents in southeastern Mexico and two Democrats in the north-central part of the state.

District Judge James Hall issued his redistricting order Tuesday.

Rep. Jim Hall (R-Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval) said he received a text from a member of the Republican caucus Tuesday night saying the judge had adopted Executive Plan 3 "with a couple of changes."

Under Executive Plan 3, District 43 would be composed of all of Los Alamos County, Rio Arriba County precincts 25 and 30, Sandoval County precincts 7, 16,17, 18, 21, 22, 23, 51, 78 and 79 and Santa Fe County precincts 12 and 80.

"The most important goal that Los Alamos remained whole was achieved," Hall said. "A lot of the credit goes to different people in both parties. I look forward to representing people in my new district."

Hall said the district would include rural parts of Rio Arriba County, the Jemez Mountains, Jemez Springs, Cochiti Lake and Pena Blanca.

The court-approved plan was advocated by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The new districts will be used by candidates in this year's legislative elections.

Republican Reps. Dennis Kintigh and Bob Wooley of Roswell are lumped in the same southeastern New Mexico district.

Democrats Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh and Thomas Garcia of Ocate are in the same north-central New Mexico district.

Republican Jimmie Hall and Democrat Al Park, who is retiring to run for another office, are placed in the same Albuquerque district.

The governor applauded the judge's decision.

"This plan does not favor one party over the other and instead ensures competitive districts that will allow New Mexicans to determine who represents them in the House," Scott Darnell, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement.

Democratic Rep. Antonio "Moe" Maestas of Albuquerque objected to the new districts.

"We are disappointed that the court is siding with the governor as she rigs districts to protect Republican incumbents and ignores several key factors, including incredible growth in Las Cruces," said Maestas, who was a part of a group of Democrats who advocated a different proposal during the redistricting trial.

Maestas said, "We are absolutely weighing every legal alternative that will allow us to continue fighting for fair representation for New Mexicans all over the state."

More details will be available in Wednesday's Los Alamos Monitor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.