Every 10 years, the City Charter requires that the Council appoint a committee composed of an equal number of representatives from each of the 9 Council District to review and make recommendations regarding redistricting the 9 Council Districts based on information from the Federal Census. The committee is called the City Council Redistricting Committee. The Committee was made up of 18 members, one voting member and one alternate member from each of the 9 City Council Districts.
The Committee was tasked with using the population data from the official 2020 U.S. Census along with any other pertinent information to make a report recommending changes in the Council District boundaries that the Committee decides are necessary based on constitutional principles governing voting rights, population, compactness and other related factors.
Research & Polling, the most reliable and accurate polling company in New Mexico and for decades has helped with congressional and legislative redistricting, was hired as consultants and provided the committee with 5 initial Concept Maps, titled Map A through E. In addition, the City and Research & Polling contracted with DistrictR, an online mapping tool that allows the public to submit their own maps. 4 additional maps were submitted by citizens, including a map proposed by Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn.
On June 29th the Redistricting Committee met for the final time. The committee decided not to settle on a single map but rated and ranked each of the 8 maps. After rating each map, the committee voted to send all 8 maps to the City Council for their consideration and final selection. The Committee rated each of the 8 maps on a 5-point scale, ranging from 0 to 4.
On June 29 the Redistricting Committee voted to rate and ranked the maps as follows:
1.Concept Map A scored the highest with a total rating of 24 and an average rating of 2.7.
2. Citizen Map 2 scored the second highest with a total rating of 19 and an average rating of 2.1.
3. Concept Map D scored the third highest with a total rating of 16 and an average rating of 1.8.
4. Citizen Map 1 scored fourth highest with a total rating of 13 and an average rating of 1.4
5. Citizen Map 5 scored fifth highest with a total rating of 12 and an average rating of 1.3
6. Citizen Map 3 scored sixth highest with a total rating of 9 and an average rating of 1.0
7. Concept E map and Citizens Map 4 tied for seventh highest place each with a total rating of 7 and an average rating of 0.8
COUNCIL VOTES TO ADOPT CONCEPT MAP A
On Monday September 19, the Albuquerque City Council voted 6-3 to approve Concept Map A that resets all 9 City Council Districts without making any major changes to existing council district borders. Redistricting experts referred to it as “minimal change” map. Only 5.8% of the city’s population are moved into new city council districts. It was Democrat Westside City Councilor Klarissa Peña, District 3, and Republican NE Heights City Councilor Brook Bassan, District 4, who co-sponsored the Concept Map A, the minimal change map.
Democrats City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn voted against the map. Each of the 3 supported at least one different option they contended would have amplified minority voices. All 3 councilors disparaged the adopted council map as the “status quo” option. City Councilor Pat Davis in particular had this to say:
“If we’re going to keep doing the same thing, we’re going to get the same results. … If it’s frustrating to all of us that not much seems to change up here, I think part of it is it’s easy to keep the same districts because we [as councilors] just got elected and we know those neighborhoods, but they don’t challenge us to think in new ways or build new coalitions.”
Davis submitted an amendment intended to better empower the city’s International District, but it failed on a 3-6 vote with only Davis, Benton and Fiebelkorn voting in support.
City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn for her part failed to secure support for an alternative map and amendments to Concept Map that would have created 4 Hispanic-majority districts, one more than the map the council ultimately approved. Fiebelkorn did so without support of the only 2 Hispanic City Councilors on the 9-member Council, city council, Klarisa Peña and Louie Sanchez.
City Councilor Peña made it clear with her support of Concept A map that it was the best map option. Peña said the other maps considered would actually harm marginalized communities. She acknowledges that the approved Concept Map A would not create 4 Hispanic “majority” districts like Fiebelkorn was advocating, but she defended it by saying that Hispanics are still the largest share of the population in 5 out of the 9 City Council districts. Peña put it this way:
“I just want to make sure [that] when we’re having these conversations about representations for minorities, we [acknowledge minorities do] have representation [now].”
Three of the 9 city council districts will not change under the adopted redistricting map. Those districts are District 3 represented by Democrat Klarisa Peña, District 4 represented by Republican Brook Bassan and District 9 represented by Republican Renee Grout.
The link to quoted news source material is here:
APPROVED CONCEPT MAP A
Concept Map A scored the highest with the city council redistricting committee with a total rating of 24 and an average rating of 2.7. The objective of this map was a minimal change map to account for population changes and minimize voter confusion. No incumbents are displaced nor paired against each other.
The approved Map A addresses the disproportionate population growth the city has seen west of the Rio Grande. To compensate for the change in population, it extends Downtown-based District 2 across the river. Under the new boundaries, District 2, currently represented by Benton, absorbs some neighborhoods west of the river between Central and Interstate 40.
The approved map “shrinks” the geographic size of District 5.
The city’s northwestern-most district, represented by Republican Dan Lewis, currently has about 16% more people than ideal for balancing purposes. Some neighborhoods are taken out the north side of Montano and moved to District 1 which is represented by Democrat Louie Sanchez.
The Northeast Heights-based District 8, represented by Trudy Jones, adds some terrain from Fiebelkorn’s District 7 by expanding south to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.
City Councilor Pat Davis’ District 6 will absorb parts of what is now District 2, including the area east of Interstate 25 between Lomas and Gibson.
The overall boundary changed to the City Council Districts can summarized as follows:
The city council districts are identical to current districts with respect to Districts 3 (Peña), District 4 (Bassan) and District 9 (Grout).
District 5 (Lewis) lost population and the boundary with District 1 (Sanchez) moves north to the bluff south of the Petroglyph Estates.
District 2 (Benton) crosses the river between Central and I-40 to Coors taking the West Mesa and Pat Hurley neighborhoods from District 1 (Louie Sanchez).
District 6 (Davis) moves west into District 2, (Benton) from Buena Vista to I-25 between Gibson and Lomas. District 6 (Davis) also takes the University West area (including Carrie Tingley Hospital) from District 2 (Benton).
District 7 (Fiebelkorn) moves south into District 2 (Benton) from I-40 to Lomas between I-25 and Carlisle not including the University West area.
District 8 (Trudy Jones) moves into District 7 (Tammy Fiebelkorn) from Montgomery to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The City Council was under no legal obligation to adopt any one of the 8 maps and could have conceivably rejected all 8 maps and start from scratch and ignore the work of the City Council 2022 Redistricting Committe and their rankings. The Albuquerque City Council is commended for doing the right thing in adopting Concept Map A, despite the gerrymandering efforts of Democrat City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn. It is easy to see how the redistricting of all 9 City Council Districts could have affected the balance of power on the City Council with one or more Districts becoming a swing District. With that point in mind, Concept Map A was the one concept map that maintains the status quo.
All 3 councilors argued that they wanted to “amplify minority voices” and create districts that gave “marginalized communities”, especially Hispanics, more representation on the City Council. This coming from 3 white progressive Democrats without any assistance or the votes from the 2 Hispanic City Councilors. The truth is that Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn were attempting to gerrymander their own selfish best interests by reducing the numbers of minorities in their districts or marginalized voters in their own districts thereby by making their districts more to their liking
SINISTER INTENT OF CONCEPT MAP 4 WAS TO REDUCE MINORITY INFLUENCE
What must not be forgotten is that Citizen Map 4, which came in last with the rankings by the re-districting committee, was originally the citizens map prepared and submitted by City Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn. The Davis/Fiebelkorn concept map was the most radical map of all the 8 maps under consideration. All the other 7 maps made adjustments that were very minor in comparison and essentially “tweaked” the existing districts, respecting the existing borders and neighborhoods and communities.
The Davis/Fiebelkorn District 6 and District 7 maps reflected in their proposed Concept Map 4 represented a dramatic departure changing borders. The concept map essentially gutted both Districts and carved them up to the benefit of Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn to give advantage to Fiebelkorn for reelection.
Under the Davis/Fiebelkorn concept Map 4, District 7 would have kept part of its existing Northeast Heights area, but then would have sweep west of District 6 and take up the Nob Hill area and the Mesa del Sol development area. Both the International District and the Nob Hill areas are considered progressive and are currently in City Council District 6 represented by Pat Davis.
he Nob Hill area along Central under the concept map would have been shifted to District 7 and be represented by City Councilor Fiebelkor and would have jettison south to include the Mesa Del Sol development. The International District in the Southeast Heights would remain in the newly aligned District 6 but the State Fairgrounds area and the Uptown area including Coronado Shopping Center and Winrock would have been shifted from District 7 to District 6.
Simply put, the Davis/Fiebelkorn Citizen redistricting Map 4 was an abomination. It is a prime example of gerrymandering at its very worse designed to protect newly elected incumbent Tammy Fiebelkorn while the departing City Councilor Pat Davis thumbed his nose at his own City Council District 6.
City Councilor Fiebelkorn said of the Davis/ Fiebelkorn concept map submitted would have given the International District’s “large, culturally significant population” a more united voice on the council, yet she does not represent them. She said she thinks International District residents may have more in common with residents just north of Lomas than with the current district that includes Nob Hill, which she called a “completely different demographic” one ostensibly more to her liking because it is considered the most progressive area of the city.
Tammy Fiebelkorn was being a hypocrite and opportunistic to say after a mere 5 months in office at the time:
“One of the baselines of redistricting is that we find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice. … I want … what would be the best to make sure everybody is represented in a fair and equitable way. … we [must] find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice. … [and give] large, culturally significant populations [a more united voice on the council].”
Fiebelkorn was not talking about her own district when she says she wanted to help the marginalized have a voice. She was referring to the International District, a minority area she did not want to be included in her own new district. Fiebelkorn does not currently represent the Nob Hill area, yet she was advocating just that by cutting it out and placing it in District 7 and cutting out an area viewed as more conservative and ignoring those she currently is supposed to be representing. Simply put, Fiebelkorn wanted to “raid” District 6 and absorb the highly progressive Nob Hill area, knowing full well it will increase her own reelection chances.
City Councilor Pat Davis was nothing but the hypocrite he has always been when he said at the time his map was originally offered:
“I think we should have some different voices on the City Council. … If you look at it now, the entire east side of the city is represented by white folks, and I think that shows the current districting is leaving some people out of the process.”
THE WHITE PRIVILEGE THREE
Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, and Tammy Fiebelkorn do not want to admit it, but they are those very “white folks” that Davis complained about. All 3 pretend to know what “marginalized communities” as they essentially stick their noses into minority issues pretending they want to protect minorities when all 3 are essentially “white privilege”. They did so without so much as asking the two Hispanics on the city council for help and support.
It is not at all difficult to figure out what so called progressive Democrats Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn were up to with their own maps and amendments to Concept Map A that was adopted. What they really wanted to do is to reduce the influence of minorities, especially Hispanics, in their own City Council Districts to reflect their own “white privilege” backgrounds and to increase their own reelection chances.
The City Council saw right through the efforts of Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn and they did the right thing and voted to approve Concept Map A without their amendments that maintains the status quo.
The link to a related blog article is here: