Every 10 years, the City Charter requires that the Council appoint a committee composed of an equal number of representatives from each Council District to review and make recommendations regarding redistricting the Council Districts based on information from the Federal Census. 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 decided were necessary based on constitutional principles governing voting rights, population, compactness, and other related factors.
The Committee was made up of 18 members with one voting member and one alternate member from each Council District. The Redistricting Committee was required to be “fair and balanced as nearly as is practicable” in the redistricting process and provide city council districts that reflected the racial, ethnic and gender makeup of the City’s population.
On June 29th the Redistricting Committee met for the final time and voted to send 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 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
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 gutted both Districts and carved them up to the benefit of Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn to give advantage to Fiebelkorn for reelection by including the very progressive Nob Hill Area in her District and excluding the International District. City Councilor Fiebelkorn said the Davis/ Fiebelkorn would have given the International District’s “large, culturally significant population” a more united voice on the council, yet she does not represent them.
Simply put, the Davis/Fiebelkorn Citizen redistricting Map 4 was an abomination. It was 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 cutting out the International District and placing it into a Republican NE Height’s District.
COUNCIL VOTES TO ADOPT CONCEPT MAP A
Concept Map A, which was ranked first by the redistricting committee, reset 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.
The link to quoted news source material is here:
On Monday September 19, the Albuquerque City Council voted 6-3 to approve Concept Map A. 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. The ordinance was formally published on October 13, 2022 and the new Council District Boundaries took effect October 20, 2022. 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.
Democrats City Councilors Pat Davis, Isaac Benton and Tammy Fiebelkorn voted against Concept Map A. Each of the 3 supported at least one different option they contended would have amplified minority voices. All 3 councilors disparaged the adopted Concept Map A.
The new City Council District boundaries account for population changes and offers minimal change to the council districts. Council District boundaries remain identical for Districts 3, 4, and 9. Changes to Districts 2, 5, 6, 7 and 8 include in part:
- District 5 had to lose population. Its boundary with District 1 moves north to the bluff south of the Petroglyph Estates.
- District 2 crosses the river between Central and I-40 to Coors taking the West Mesa and Pat Hurley neighborhoods from District 1.
- District 6 moves west into District 2 from Buena Vista to I-25 between Gibson and Lomas. District 6 also takes the University West area (including Carrie Tingley Hospital) from District 2.
- District 7 moves south into District 2 from I-40 to Lomas between I-25 and Carlisle not including the University West area.
- District 8 moves into District 7 from Montgomery to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.
Albuquerque is a Hispanic Majority City. The citywide raw population data that was used by the City Council Redistricting Committee to formulate all 9 City council districts breaks the city population down as follows:
Albuquerque Total Population 564,550
HISPANIC: 269,231 (47.7%)
WHITE: 212,965 (37.7%)
NATIVE AMERICAN: 25,195 (4.5%)
BLACK: 16,649 (2.9%)
ASIAN: 18,041 (3.2%)
OTHER: 22,469 (4.0%)
The redistricting Committee distributed the city wide population data to each of the 9 City Council Districts. With the new City Council redistricting boundaries, Districts 1,2,3,5 and 6 all have Hispanic Majority populations. District 4,7,8 and 9 have White Majority populations. Following is the population data as to each city council district with borders identifying the current city councilor:
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1 (DEMOCRAT LOUIE SANCHEZ)
Total Population: 65,323 HISPANIC: 37,135 (56.8% ) WHITE: 19,659 (30.1%) NATIVE AMERICAN 2,970 (4.5%) BLACK 1,948 (3.0%) ASIAN 1,441 (2.2%) OTHER 2,170 3.3%
The District 1 City Council District represented by Democrat Louie Sanchez is the centrally located Westside District between City Council District 5 on the North represented by Republican Dan Lewis and City Council District 3 on the South represented by Democrat Klarissa Pena. The geographical borders generally include Central Avenue on the South, Coors and the Rio Grande River on the East and “zig zags” on the North to include Atrisco Dr., Tesuque Dr. and Buterfield Trail and with the West border jetting outwards to the city limits and vacant land.
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2 (DEMOCRAT ISAAC BENTON)
Total Population: 60,338 HISPANIC: 36,586 (60.6%) WHITE: 17,404 (28.8%) NATIVE AMERICAN 2,281 (3.8%) BLACK 1,486 (2.5%) ASIAN 600 (1.0%) OTHER 1,981 (3.3%)
Some of the biggest changes involve the Downtown based District 2 represented by Democrat Isaac Benton. The district now extends west of the Rio Grande to pick up the West Mesa and Pat Hurley neighborhoods. District 2 simultaneously lost some neighborhoods immediately east of Interstate 25. Some went to District 6, where Pat Davis is the councilor, and others joined District 7, which is represented by Tammy Fiebelkorn. 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).
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3 (DEMOCRAT KLARISSA PENA)
Total Population: 65,343 HISPANIC: 53,314 ( 81.6%) WHITE: 6,766 (10.4%) NATIVE AMERICAN 1,865 (2.9%) BLACK 1,554 (2.4%) ASIAN 612 0.9% OTHER 1,232 (1.9%)
District 3 represented by Klarissa Peña borders did not change. The geographic borders are generally “Old Coors Road” on the East and the Valley area, Central on the North, and Dennis Chavez Road on the South, with the West side border jetting out to the city limits and mostly vacant area.
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4 (REPUBLICAN BROOK BASSAN)
Total Population: 60,380 HISPANIC: 20,358 (33.7%) WHITE: 28,888 (47.8%) NATIVE AMERICAN 2,821 (4.7%) BLACK 1,545 (2.6%) ASIAN 4,047 (6.7%) OTHER 2,721 (4.5%)
District 4 boundaries represented by Brook Basaan “zig zag” tremendously. The West border includes Tokay, Edith, and Paseo Alamedas streets. The South border includes Montano/Alameda. The East border includes Academy, Holbrook and Ventura. The North border is South of Tramway Road and includes Boxwood, Venice, Florence, Ventura and Caramel streets.
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5 (REPUBLICAN DAN LEWIS)
Total Population: 63,144 HISPANIC: 28,967 (45.9%) WHITE: 24,506 ( 38.8%) NATIVE AMERICAN 2,799 (4.4%) BLACK 2,079 (3.3%) ASIAN 1,958 (3.1%) OTHER 2,835 (4.5%)
The approved map “shrinks” the geographic size of District 5. The district had about 16% more people than ideal for balancing purposes. District 5, in the city’s northwest quadrant, represented by Dan Lewis, grew out of proportion with the city as a whole and some of it went to neighboring District 1 represented by Louie Sanchez. District 5 ost population and the boundary with District 1 moves north to the bluff south of the Petroglyph Estates.
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 6 (DEMOCRAT PAT DAVIS)
Total Population: 64,510 HISPANIC: 29,515 (45.8%) WHITE:23,074 (35.8%) NATIVE AMERICAN 4,193 (6.5%) BLACK 2,801 (4.3%) ASIAN 2,072 (3.2%) OTHER 2,855 (4.4%)
District 6 absorbed parts of District 2, including the area east of Interstate 25 between Lomas and Gibson. 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).
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 7 (DEMOCRAT TAMMY FIEBELKORN)
Total Population: 64,847 HISPANIC: 25,198 (38.9%) WHITE: 29,506 (45.5%) NATIVE AMERICAN 3,424 (5.3%) BLACK 1,836 (2.8%) ASIAN 1,953 (3.0%) OTHER 2,930 (4.5%)
District 7 lost the area from Comanche to Montgomery, between Wyoming and Eubank, to District 8, where Trudy Jones is the councilor. 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.
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 8 (REPUBLICAN TRUDY JONES)
Total Population: 59,917 HISPANIC: 15,807 (26.4%) WHITE: 35,477 (59.2%) NATIVE AMERICAN 1,940 (3.2%) BLACK 1,320 (2.2%) ASIAN 2,482 (4.1%) OTHER 2,891 (4.8%)
The Northeast Heights-based District 8, represented by Trudy Jones, added some terrain from Fiebelkorn’s District 7 by expanding south to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank. District 8 (Trudy Jones) moves into District 7 (Tammy Fiebelkorn) from Montgomery to Comanche between Wyoming and Eubank.
CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 9 (REPUBLICAN RENEE GROUT)
Total Population: 60,748 HISPANIC: 22,351 (36.8%) WHITE: 27,685 (45.6%) NATIVE AMERICAN 2,902 (4.8%) BLACK 2,080 (3.4%) ASIAN 2,876 (4.7%) OTHER 2,854 (4.7%)
District 9 boundaries represented by Renee Grout did not change and the District is very condensed. The Northern border is Menaul, the West border is Eubank, the Southern border is Dennis Ave, SE and the East border is the Sandia foothills federal land.
CITY COUNCIL TURNOVER
In the 2017 municipal election, the Majority Hispanic District 2 elected Democrat Isaac Benton and Majority Hispanic District 6 elected Democrat Pat Davis and the Majority Hispanic City elected Democrat Mayor Tim Keller.
The 2021 municipal elections resulted in a turnover of 4 city council seats out of 9 with 2 city councilors deciding not to run again and two other Democrat incumbents losing to challengers. The Hispanic Majority District 5 elected Republican Dan Lewis who defeated Hispanic Democrat Cynthia Borrego. The City Council went from a 6 to 3 Democrat “progressive” majority to a 5 to 4 Democrat majority that is decidedly more conservative leaning thanks in large part to the election of Westside conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez who defeated progressive Democrat Lan Sena.
After the 2021 Muncipal elections, the 5 Democrats on the new city council as of January 1, 2022 are:
District 1 Conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez (Elected on November 2 defeating Lan Sena.)
District 2 Progressive Democrat Isaac Benton
District 3 Moderate Democrat Klarissa Peña (Ran unopposed on November 2 .)
District 6 Progressive Democrat Pat Davis
District 7 Progressive Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn
After the 2021 Muncipal elections , the 4 Republicans on the new city council as of January 1, 2022 are:
District 5 Conservative Republican Dan Lewis (Newly elected)
District 4 Conservative Republican Brook Bassan
District 8 Conservative Republican Trudy Jones
District 9 Conservative Republican Renee Grout
Because of the 2021 municipal election and its move to the conservative right, it has frequently taken to attempting to repeal progressive policies adopted by the previous city councils. That includes the city’s plastic bag ban repeal by the current council, attempting repeal the Mayor’s authority to issue emergency public health orders to deal with the pandemic and weighing whether to replace the zero-fare bus pilot program.
2023 MUNCIPAL ELECTION
Democrat Pat Davis And Republican Trudy Jones have made it official and announced that they will not seek another term on the Albuquerque City Council. Both Davis and Jones said they intend to serve the remainder of their terms which run through the end of 2023. Both Jones and Davis said they are ready to make way for some new voices on the council. A total of 4 City Council seats will be on next year’s municipal ballot and include District 2 now represented by progressive Democrat Isaac Benton and District 4 now represented by conservative Republican Brook Bassan.
DISTRICT 8 REPUBLCAN TRUDY JONES
Republican Trudy Jones, now 73, was first elected to the City Council in October 2007 to represent District 8, Albuquerque’s Far Northeast Heights and Foothills. District 8 is a decidedly WHITE district with a total population of 59,917 and with a WHITE population of 35,477 or 59.2% and a HISPANIC population of 15,807 or 26.4%. She has been elected 4 times to the council and will complete 16 years of service in 2023. She is a retired real estate agent and said she was drawn in 2007 to the public service element of the council. She said her focus since becoming a city councilor has been improving public facilities in her district and said she is especially proud of the investments in parks and roads.
As a city councilor and as a realtor, it was not at all surprising that her primary interest was in land-use planning and zoning matters. She was the co-sponsor of the city’s Integrated Development Ordinance, which in 2017 replaced the city’s old zoning code, and chairing the city’s Land Use, Planning & Zoning committee for the past three years. She was a staunch supporter of the disastrous ART Bus project down the center of Central. This past year she voted to support “Safe Outdoor Spaces” which are government sanctioned tent encampment for the homeless and “motel conversions” which will allow the city to purchase motels to be converted to long-term low-income housing. Jones said she wants to shepherd various infrastructure projects to the finish line before leaving office.
DISTRICT 6 DEMOCRAT PAT DAVIS
Democrat Pat Davis, now 44, was first elected to the City Council in 2015 succeeding City Councilor Rey Garduno and in 2019 Davis was elected to serve another 4 year term. Davis represents District 6, which encompasses the International District, Mesa Del Sol, Nob Hill, Southeast Heights, and the University of New Mexico. District 6 is a decidedly Hispanic Majority District with a total population of 64,510 which is 45.8% Hispanic and 35.8%. White.
Davis is considered one of the leading progressives on the city council and worked on the city’s early solar energy initiatives and co-sponsored legislation that strengthened the city’s immigrant-friendly status, and another bill that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana years before the state legalized recreational cannabis. Davis is building a small media network as publisher of three independent newspapers: the Corrales Comment, the Sandoval Signpost and The Paper. By announcing his intentions now not to seek a third term, Davis said he is giving others interested in his job a chance to “research and build networks.” Davis had this to say about his departure from the city council:
“I think the city has got to find some new voices to help move us forward. I want to give some folks an opportunity to try that and maybe somebody else will be more successful than I would be. … I have a lot of other things going on. … I can leave the City Council and still have a voice from the newspaper job that I could do more work in.”
The link to quoted news sources is here:
TWO INCUMBENTS WHO MAY RUN AGAIN
The two other City Council District seats that will be on next year’s 2023 municipal ballot are District 2 represented by 4 term Democrat City Councilor Isaac Benton and first term District 4 Republican Brook Basaan. Benton and Basaan have not yet said if they will be running again, but if they do, it is expected they will have strong opposition.
DISRICT 2 DEMOCRAT ISAAC BENTON
Democrat Isaac (Ike) Benton, 71, is the District 2 City Councilor and was first elected to the council in 2005 and has been elected 4 times to 4 year terms. Benton’s district is a decidedly Hispanic Majority District with a 45.9% Hispanic population and a 38.8% White population. Benton is a retired architect and avowed urbanist. Benton’s city council district includes a large area of downtown Central and the North Valley which leans left and is heavily Hispanic. Benton ran unopposed in 2015. In 2019, Benton had 5 opponents with 4 having qualified for public finance. Four of his opponents were Hispanic males ranging from the ages of 28 to 39, and one was a Republican Hispanic female. In 2019 Benton was forced into a runoff with Zack Quintero, 28, who was a recent UNM Law School graduate and economist and Benton won the election. Quintero for his part ran unsuccessfully for State Auditor this year and eventually became the statewide campaign field coordinator for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s successful reelection campaign.
REPUBLICAN BROOK BASAAN, DISTRICT 4
Republican Brook Bassan is the District 4 City Councilor and she is serving her first 4 year term on the city council. In 2017 Republican Brook Bassan was elected to replace retiring 4 term Republican City Councilor Brad Winter. The major borders of District 4 are generally Montano/Montgomery on the South, Tramway on the North, Academy/Ventura/Holbrook on the East and Edith on the West. Basaans’ City Council District 4 is a decidedly White Majority District with a 47.8% White population and a 37.7% Hispanic population.
It was in June of this year that Brook Bassan became embroiled in controversy when she supported and was the chief advocate and sponsor for “Safe Outdoor Spaces” amendment to the Integrated Development Ordnance (IDO) that now permit 2 homeless encampments in all 9 city council districts. Safe Outdoor Spaces are city sanctioned homeless encampments designed to have 40 designated spaces for tents allowing upwards of 50 people, requires hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6 foot fencing and require social services offered. Bassan introduced legislation to place a moratorium on the land use as well as a repeal of the land use, but the damage has been done with upwards of 6 applications for Safe Outdoor Spaces made with 3 approved and with one appealed.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
With 6 White City Councilors and Mayor and with only 2 Hispanic City Councilors in a Hispanic majority city, City Government is not even close to being representative of the City’s rich cultural diversity and history.
The 2023 municipal election will indeed give voters a real opportunity to select upwards of 4 new city councilors that could dramatically change the direction of the city policy as well as the balance of power.
The city is at a crossroads and with any luck more Hispanic or minority citizens who are truly concerned about the direction of the city will step up to the plate and run for City Council and provide real choices and solutions to the city’s problems.