By Carolyn Carlson
With about a handful of citizens in the chambers, Albuquerque City Councilors decided how the nine city council districts will look for the next decade. For most of us, nothing will change.
Every 10 years after the Census is taken, governing bodies are charged with adjusting political boundaries based on changed populations. Albuquerque has been doing this evaluation behind the scenes with a group of volunteers and some talented facilitators.
A slate of options were up for discussion and ultimately one had to be chosen. It did not take long, and there was minimal discussion before the decision was made.
Some Councilors described the approved boundaries as just maintaining the status quo. Councilors Pat Davis (a co-owner of The Paper.), Tammy Fiebelkorn and Isaac Benton supported more progressive options that they say would have given minority voices a better chance of getting representation at the governing table.
One option would have created four Hispanic-majority districts. Another would have given the diverse area known as the International District basically its own district to give minorities a stronger voice at the table. Councilor Davis said there has never been an African American or Native American sitting in those seats. He said it was frustrating that not much changes; therefore, citizens will not be challenged to think in new ways.
Councilor Klarissa Peña,.one of two sitting Hispanic Councilors at the table, co-sponsored along with Councilor Brook Bassan the map that was approved on a 6 to 3 vote.
The big change is to compensate for growth on the West Side. District 2, which is based Downtown, will now extend west over the Rio Grande along Interstate 40 and take in some neighborhoods between I-40 and Central.
Over on the West Side there had to be some adjusting. Therefore, District 5, currently held by Councilor Dan Lewis, holds more people than is ideal so about 16% of the area north of Montaño will be moved to District 1, which is held by Councilor Louie Sanchez.
The mid-East Side will have some movement as District 8, where Councilor Trudy Jones holds the seat, will get some of Councilor Fiebelkorn’s District 7 constituents. Finally, District 6 will enlarge a little and take a bit of District 2 around the area of Interstate 25 between Lomas and Gibson.
The new boundaries show no changes to District 3, which is currently Peña’s South West Mesa Valley district; no changes to District 4 which is Bassan’s Far Northeast Heights district; and no changes to Councilor Renee Grout’s mid-Heights District 9.
City staff said there will be lots of activity to inform the public who will be impacted about all the details regarding these changes in representation. Quick thank-you shout out to the folks who worked behind the scenes to come up with all the maps. Go to cabq.gov to keep up.
Councilors Peña and Bassan get blue ribbons for their two proclamations. Councilor Peña sponsored September as National Recovery Month. Councilor Peña has been fairly quiet at the last few meetings so it was good to hear her speak up passionately about an issue that impacts just about all of us in one way or another. Albuquerque Celebrates Recovery is the name of the volunteer group organizing events and services that focus on acceptance, welcoming and embracing all paths that lead to recovery while building strong communities. The next event to spread the word will have live music, face painting and other booths on Sept. 29 from 10am to 2pm at Civic Plaza. Check it out here www.abqrecovery.org.
Councilor Bassan sponsored a proclamation to spread some positivity. Imagine ABQ is a wide-ranging group of partners including current and retired Albuquerque Fire and Rescue, city leaders and community members who will roll up their sleeves in a citywide clean up to leave Albuquerque better looking than it is right now. This event is happening on Sept. 24 to get the city ready for the big Balloon Fiesta.
As one speaker said, “Trash, litter and weeds. Start where your feet are.”
Councilor Bassan said this was an invitation to interrupt the negative news cycle. Someone also said this was a good time to “love on” our city and our neighbors. For more information go to www.imagineabq.com.
The next meeting of the Albuquerque City Council is set for 5pm Monday, Oct. 7. For more information, agendas and meeting links, go to cabq.gov.