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(Also available as a Word file: FDNMcandidateanswers.doc (52K).)

Many seats in the New Mexico Legislature are up for election in 2020. Voters can ask candidates if they will pledge to enact meaningful redistricting reform. With candidates asking for your vote in 2020, it's a good time to tell them that ending gerrymandering is important to you!

2020 Santa Fe County Candidates for the New Mexico Legislature answers to: “What measures would you support to make the redistricting process fairer and more transparent?”

Answers from the League of Women Voters of Santa Fe County 2020 Voter Guide @ 2020_voter_guide_printed_version.pdfThis Voter Guide is for the primary election, although some candidates without a primary challenge answered. There will be a later general election Voters Guide.

Answers in blue, (in reverse alphabetical order), are those particularly favorable to redistricting reform.

Peter Wirth (Democrat), SD25

I support a hybrid redistricting commission where the Legislature still has some involvement in the process.

James White (Republican), SD19

Historically, the public paid little attention to the redistricting process. Today’s electorate has a greater desire to be part of the process, so explaining and highlighting the activity would help. Splitting communities or even common interests is a concern and therefore greater transparency would help. Creating opportunities through public hearings, accessible web- sights, feedback opportunities is needed. The process itself has become more technology based allowing information to be shared.

Lee G. Weinland (Libertarian), SD5

Stop letting legislators make the rules to suit their advantage. Redistricting is an intrinsically political process but might even up being decided in the courts. I would favor a commission selected from academics and professional cartographers to generate computer models based on compact geographic districts that fall along natural dividing features like roads etc. The legislature must agree among its members to just pick from a range of options delivered by the commission.

Jessica Velasquez (Democrat), HD22

Elections are meant to represent the will of the people. Unfortunately, partisan politicians manipulate voting maps to keep themselves in power. I support redistricting reforms like nonpartisan redistricting commissions, hiring non-partisan staff, eliminating gerrymandering, mandating open and accessible meetings and documents, and instituting clear rules for how district lines are drawn. With appropriate reform measures, NM’s elections can ensure fair representation for us all.

Patrick Varela (Democrat), HD45

I have always felt that the redistricting should be done through an independent committee made up of people not elected officials. Made up from many relevant organizations, So I would support an independent committee.

Liz Stefanics (Democrat), SD39

In 2020, I was one of the sponsors of the Independent Redistricting Commission Act (SB 134) that contained a small appropriation.  The Secretary of State's office was interested in working on this issue if the legislation progressed. The legislation passed in Senate Rules Committee and was held up in the process.

Linda Serrato (Democrat), HD45

I support President Obama’s and Attorney General Eric Holder’s efforts to move redistricting to the hands of unelected judges to ensure fair elections.

Andrea Romero (Democrat), HD46

First and foremost, we should ensure ourdata reflects that of the 2020 Census. The redistricting process should also include independent redistricting commissions. These commissions should focus on inclusivity, good-faith negotiation, transparency which will allow for fair redistricting that protects community interests and guards against partisan, racial and class-based gerrymandering.

Nancy Rodriguez (Democrat), SD24

It is imperative that the redistricting process is clearly transparent, not only in presentation but in open forum for meaningful and adequate public input. I support establishing an independent redistricting commission to accomplish this important goal. At a minimum our redistricting process must ensure population equality and must prevent any dilution of minority voting strength.

Claudia Risner (Democrat), SD19

To guard against partisan and racial gerrymandering and protect our community interests, NM should appoint an independent Redistricting Commission for redistricting. There are 13 states that have these in place and NM should evaluate their effectiveness and replicate a model that works well. Characteristics and features should include an internal system of checks and balances, good-faith negotiation, transparency, and representation from both parties as well as from neither major party.

Matthew McQueen (Democrat), HD50

Voters should pick their elected officials; elected officials shouldn’t pick their voters. I support a citizen-led, nonpartisan redistricting commission, subject to the Open Meetings Act, with input from the general public. The process must be public and transparent, with accessible, web-casted hearings held across the state.

John McDivitt (Libertarian), SD19

Redistricting is far too important to be left to politicians. With today’s abundance of computer technology, I propose we program a computer to make districts as close to square as possible and to contain as close to the same number of people as possible. This approach will effectively end Gerrymandering and take the politics out of the process. What could be more fair than that?

Leo Jaramillo (Democrat), SD5

I would support the creation of an independent redistricting commission as proposed by The League of Women Voters and other good government groups in years past. By creating an independent redistricting commission, the 2021 redistricting process would be fairer and more transparent…

Creating a commission and applying strong map drawing rules (including protections for communities of interest and people of color as well as a ban on partisan gerrymander- in), would be a big win for New Mexicans.

Susan Herrera (Democrat), HD41

New Mexico should set up a bipartisan commission with equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans to redistrict the state. Redistricting is political, to say it should be different is to ignore reality. However, good people can be found with a strong record in fairness and bipartisanship to tackle this mandate. Hmmmm . . . . maybe the League of Women Voters?

Anita Gonzales (Democrat), HD70

Redistricting should strive to preserve communities of interest, consider geographic boundaries, and attempt to be reasonably compact. Rural areas are highly impacted with a larger geographic area, often with fewer resources and boundaries that are not always practical. I would support an independent commissionto work with legislators and provide valuable input. This would help with transparency to create an engaged electorate and ensure districts are bound together with some commonality.

Carmichael Dominguez (Democrat), HD45

As a former City Councilor for the City of Santa Fe I initiated the first and only independent redistricting commission in the State of New Mexico and I support independent redistricting commissions throughout the State of New Mexico. Gerrymandering compromises our democracy and the concept of allowing voters to decide who represents them. There should be an independent selection process that screens applicants for disqualifications or conflicts of interest to become an independent commission.

Christine Chandler (Democrat), HD43

Redistricting processes that rely on some form of independent commission have shown to be less partisan and more open. I would support proposals to create a commission process in New Mexico.

Linda Trujillo (Democrat), HD48

I support efforts to ensure redistricting truly represents communities. However, I have not seen an independent model that would represent the diversity of our state. At this time, I believe the legislature does represent the diversity of communities better than a smaller appointed commission. I will keep an open mind and critically consider legislation concerning redistricting.

Diamantina Prado Storment (Republican), SD5

No comment at this time.

Helen Milenski (Libertarian), HD45

We have the data that clearly shows where voters reside. All state districts should be evaluated based on even disbursement of voters. Barring the fair disbursement process that is favored, but often geographically impractical, certain CLEAR boundaries should be the structure for a district. Threaded peninsulas in districts should be highly questioned, regardless of the majority party in that area. Gerrymandering is real and it should be eliminated. Fair voting processes should be respected.

Richard C. Martinez (Democrat), SD5

We should include the general public more often in determining these boundaries. Some smaller communities are bounced around the districts and feel that they are not part of a district! In my opinion I have always thought that the courts do a diligent job straightening some of these districts after they have been challenged.

Lisa Martinez (Democrat), HD45

Redistricting is a complex issue combining people, geography, political affiliations, history, and more, making the simple definitions of “transparency & fairness” difficult. Defining clear standards, such as the following may help: Partisan Fairness: Ensure districts fairly represent voters from all

political parties Community Integrity: Ensure Counties, cities and towns are kept in a single district, whenever possible Population Equality: Ensure each district has the same number of people

Jay Groseclose (Republican), HD46

Base districting on population density rather than party affiliation, i.e., equal numbers of people within a district to achieve a population count target applied equally to each district. The areas of districts to be determined by equal population count target rather than split along lines of political party designations and should be confined geographically to compact areas to achieve the population target as compactly as possible.

Roberto ‘Bobby’ Gonzales (Democrat), SD6

Conduct above board open meetings. Make sure all constituents have the information on the process and a voice.

Leighton Cornish (Republican), SD24

I do not know about that process yet.

Robert Anaya (Democrat), HD70

I support a third-party entity to provide review and oversight of the process.

No Response Received:

Susan Vescovo (Republican), SD39

Ricardo Vargas (Republican), SD25

Joseph Tiano (Republican), SD39

Rebecca Spindle (Democrat), HD50

Yolanda Sena (Democrat), HD45

Gregg Schmedes (Republican), SD19

Scott Milenski (Libertarian), SD24

Stefani Lord (Republican), HD22

David Hampton (Republican), HD43

Jerry Gage (Libertarian), HD50

Christina Estrada (Republican), HD50

Brian Egolf, Jr. (Democrat), HD47

Nathan Dial (Republican), HD70

Ambrose Castellano (Democrat), HD70

Glen Berlin (Republican), HD47

Fair Districts for New Mexico