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Groups seek data on ethnicity of workers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s a simple question, the NAACP and its supporters said, but finding an answer has proven to be difficult.

NAACP officials have filed several records requests in recent months for data showing the ethnic breakdown of a segment of state employees. But state officials have said such records are not kept.

Harold Bailey

Harold Bailey

Specifically, said Harold Bailey, the president of the NAACP’s Albuquerque chapter, the civil rights group has requested the ethnic, racial and gender backgrounds of all exempt and non-exempt appointments to state government positions, along with a list of employee job and position categories. He said personnel records would show that information.

“Once we get that information, we have a right as taxpayers to provide some suggestions about how to rectify the situation,” Bailey said.

Bailey and others believe blacks are underrepresented in certain state government positions.

A spokesman for Gov. Susana Martinez said all of her hires and appointments are based on merit.

“The state is an equal opportunity employer and doesn’t require employees to check a box indicating race,” spokesman Chris Sanchez said on Saturday. “Governor Susana Martinez is the first Hispanic female governor in the history of the United States, and she is running the most transparent administration our state has ever seen.”

Bailey was joined Saturday afternoon by other leaders from organizations in the black and Hispanic communities to say that the group plans to continue its push for the Governor’s Office to release the data.

Cecilia Webb, president of the Albuquerque chapter of the National Council of Negro Women, said her interactions with state agencies have led her to believe that women of color are underrepresented in state government. She said those who have been hired work lower-level jobs and are not in management positions.

“We are concerned about the women of color who are hired under this administration,” she said. “I would like to have the statistics on that for our organizations.”

Rev. Charles Bucknell, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the groups only want the data so they can make suggestions about how best to increase the African-American population working in state government.

“They have nothing to fear by giving us this information,” he said. “We’re not saying, ‘hire people just because of their nationality.'”

The 2010 Census found that 3.3 percent of New Mexico’s population identified as black or African-American alone, according to the Census website.