New city district map shows little change

Alisa Boswell

Portales city councilors voted on a redistricting option with minimal changes to district boundaries Tuesday night during the city council meeting.

Sterling Fluharty, of Southwest Political Services, presented council members with three options for the redistricting of the city.

“Concept A was the idea of least change or status quo oriented, so in other words, the changes to the boundaries of the districts would be at a minimum to preserve the core of existing districts,” Fluharty said. “Concept B we took a communities of interest approach. We had at our disposal a variety of characteristics from the Census Bureau about certain neighborhoods and areas. We compared things like social economic conditions.”

Fluharty said Concept C was identical to Concept A with the exception of an additional four-block radius to Ward B.

Portales councilors chose Concept C as the new districting option.

“Any time you have to redistrict things like that, the least change is always the best for residents, incumbents and voters,” City Councilor Ron Jackson said. “The least disruption is the best in my mind.”

Councilor Oscar Robinson said he was going to initially choose Concept A but once he realized there was only a two-block difference between A and C, he chose Concept C.

“The one I had a debate with was B. It would have drastically changed the whole voting concept,” Robinson said. “It would have been hard to explain to the people, you’re whole representation has changed. It was counter-productive in my opinion.”

Concept B moved Ward B from the northeast side of Portales northwest to the center of the city, keeping all incumbents in their districts but moving many voters to new districts.

After Fluharty’s presentation Tuesday, Mayor Sharon King told councilors she believed Concept B was the best option as far as residents were concerned.

“I feel our needs and concerns in certain areas are very different,” King told councilors at the meeting.

Fluharty said Concept B would have benefited the community in the fact that like-minded people would have shared districts but he said the drawback was moving many voters to new districts in which they did not vote in the incumbents.

“With the current set up, communities of interest might be a little more split,” Fluharty said of the drawbacks to Concept C.

“There was an opportunity last night and previously when the public could have added input,” he added. “So I hope that they educate themselves so that 10 years from now, they can play more of a role in this process.”