Sandoval County maps ignore Native groups' concerns - Albuquerque Journal

Sandoval County maps ignore Native groups’ concerns

The Nov. 18 Sandoval County Commission meeting seemed no different from the times we had to fight “right-to-work-for-less” and fracking proposals. Small and tribal communities filled the room because they were most impacted by the mapping that was done by GOP contractor Rod Adair.

My purpose of writing is to share the injustice of the maps created by splitting up small communities in two or three parts like Bernalillo and Placitas and throwing Corrales in a district across the river more than 20 miles away. This gerrymandering and divisiveness would make three of the county commission districts so Republican-leaning that the minority of people within those districts as well as the other two districts become voiceless. Currently two of the three seats held by Republican commissioners are swing districts. Swing districts are healthy because the people wanting to serve in that district must listen to all their concerns to find common ground.

To use the delay in receiving the census data as an excuse to not contact the communities in which you are redistricting is appalling. … (According to pueblo leaders,) Adair did not speak to Native leaders regarding their concerns. As a contractor, it is his responsibility to bring as many people to the table to have the most perspective for a better outcome. You don’t get paid by our tax dollars to force your agenda down our throats and think it’s OK. Adair didn’t reach out to our mayors of our smaller communities for their perspective, either.

We have more pueblos in Sandoval County than anywhere in New Mexico, three Navajo chapters and the Apaches. Adair’s proposal is for all Native people to be lumped into one district. They are currently in two commission districts. They are setting up one county commissioner for failure by making him/her travel the largest part of our district to reach out to 12 tribal governments.

And for those who don’t care about fair representation and every constituent having a voice, keep in mind that the economic success of Sandoval County is in part because of tribal communities. They own and hire many county residents at their three casinos, gas stations, resorts – some that are big enough to use for large national and international conferences – five golf courses and many other amenities and infrastructure that bring in gross receipts tax, jobs and thousands of tourists/visitors which allows other business to prosper. They also help with county-tribal partnerships like fire and police safety.

These maps and whoever supports them are saying, “We want all that you Natives bring to our economic prosperity, but we don’t want you to have a voice.” It’s scandalous that one of the commissioners is even running for governor.

The county commission will vote on a map during their Dec. 9 meeting. If not done fairly, the alternative is that they are going to get sued again and we as taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill.

Laura M. Montoya lives in Rio Rancho and served as county treasurer from 2013-20.


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