ABQ councilors aim to give one district more voice - Albuquerque Journal

ABQ councilors aim to give one district more voice

City Councilor Pat Davis

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

In an effort to give Albuquerque’s International District more political sway, two city councilors have developed a concept map that would radically reshape their own districts and – potentially – put one of them out of a job.

The dramatic boundary revisions posited by Councilors Pat Davis and Tammy Fiebelkorn would separate the International District from Nob Hill, two areas currently located within District 6. But it also would exclude Davis – District 6’s second-term councilor – from the district he was twice elected to represent. Under the Davis/Fiebelkorn map, Davis could not run for reelection next year unless he moved.

But the Davis/Fiebelkorn map remains just an idea, one of several under review.

City Councilor Tammy Fiebelkorn

The duo submitted it to Albuquerque’s citizen-led redistricting committee, which voted May 18 to adopt it as an official map under consideration.

There are now seven concept maps before the committee, and the panel will continue accepting new maps until its Wednesday meeting.

The committee has until July 1 to make recommendations to the City Council, which has the final say on where to draw boundaries for the nine council districts.

The council may or may not accept the committee’s recommendations, but it will have to approve at least some changes to the current district map to account for the uneven population growth identified by the 2020 U.S. Census. Some of the maps before the redistricting committee make relatively minor adjustments.

But the Davis/Fiebelkorn map would dramatically shift boundaries in the southern half of the city.

As it stands today, District 6 covers the area south of Lomas between University and Eubank, including Nob Hill and what is generally considered the entire International District.

The current District 7 runs north of Lomas to Montgomery, covering Uptown and the middle of the city.

The Davis/Fiebelkorn map would condense District 6’s east-west coverage to the area between San Mateo and Eubank, while extending it as far north as Candelaria, taking most of Uptown. District 7 would keep part of its existing Northeast Heights area, but sweep west of District 6 and take the Nob Hill and Mesa del Sol areas.

Fiebelkorn said she wanted to present an idea that would give the International District’s “large, culturally significant population” a more united voice on the council. She said she thinks International District residents may have more in common with residents just north of Lomas than with current district-mates in Nob Hill, which she called a “completely different demographic.”

“One of the baselines of redistricting is that we find ways to make marginalized communities have a voice,” she said.

Under the proposal, the District 6 population would be 49.2% Hispanic, up from the current level of 46.8%, according to data on the city’s redistricting website. It would keep the Native American (6.3%) and Asian (2.7%) concentrations the same, but lower the white population to 33.8% from 35.2% and the Black population to 4.1% from 4.5%.

But Fiebelkorn stressed that this is just an idea. She said she wants the redistricting committee – which started meeting and studying the relevant issues in March – to do its own thorough review.

“I want to hear what the folks who have been living and breathing this the last several months think in terms of these various options and what would be the best to make sure everybody is represented in a fair and equitable way,” she said.

Davis said the redistricting committee has seen maps that would have portioned part of the International District into the eastern district that includes Four Hills, something he did not want to see.

As for his own political future, he said he’s not prepared to say what he would do if a map carves him out of his own district but that he’s “inclined to honor my commitment to only run for two terms.”

“I think we should have some different voices on the City Council,” he said. “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.”

Redistricting Committee Chair Cathryn McGill – the panel’s District 6 representative – said she did not want to comment specifically on any one map since they’re all conceptual. But she reiterated that the goal of redistricting is to achieve equity so that one person equals one vote citywide and said she cares about the International District.

“I want to shift and change that narrative and allow people to know how great the International District is, and view it as an asset as opposed to a detriment,” she said. “If that means we need to take a serious look at drawing different boundaries to improve representation there, I’m certainly going to be open-minded about that.”

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