I attended the Sandoval County Commission meeting on Thursday. Walking into the room seemed no different from the times constituents were present to fight right-to-work-for-less and fracking proposals made by the commission when I was county treasurer.

The room was packed with constituents from several rural and small communities — Placitas, town of Bernalillo, village of Corrales, Algodones, pueblos and the Navajo chapter of Torreon — that had not been included in the redistricting process. Yet they are among the most impacted by the mapping that was done by Rod Adair, GOP contractor and former state senator from Chavez County. He was hired by Sandoval County several months ago to complete this task.

My preliminary purpose of writing is to share with my community the injustice of the maps created by splitting up small communities in half, such as Bernalillo and Placitas, and throwing Corrales in the Placitas district when it is across the river — more than 20 miles away — and has traditionally been part of a Rio Rancho district. This type of gerrymandering (manipulating the boundaries of electoral constituency so as to favor one party or class) and divisiveness would only have two purposes: to make three of the County Commission districts so Republican-leaning that the other two districts become voiceless and to ensure minority residents of districts in Rio Rancho also become voiceless with the lack of representation that reflects their values. Currently, two of the three seats held by Republican commissioners are swing districts. Swing districts are healthy because that means the people trying to serve the constituents in that district must bring everyone to the table and listen to all of their concerns to find common ground.

But I also want to bring your attention to the injustice of process. A census was completed, and redistricting occurs as part of that process. To use the delay in receiving the census data as an excuse to not contact the communities being redistricted is appalling. Adair, the contractor hired by Sandoval County to construct the maps, literally told me after the meeting he was not going to speak to Native leaders regarding their concerns and that if they had concerns, they could contact him. As a contractor, it is his responsibility to bring as many people to the table as possible to have the most perspective for a better outcome. He could have done that process while waiting on the census information. He didn’t reach out to our mayors of our smaller communities for their perspectives, either.

We have more pueblos in Sandoval County than anywhere in New Mexico, as well as three Navajo chapters and an Apache tribe (seven pueblos and all or portions of six tribal entities/lands). Adair’s proposal is for all Native people to be lumped into one district. They are currently in two commission districts.

To those who don’t care about fair representation and every constituent having a voice, keep in mind that the success of Sandoval County is no longer attached only to Intel. Our economy is doing well because of tribal communities. They own and hire many county residents at their three casinos, resorts, five golf courses and other amenities and infrastructure. Their endeavors bring in gross receipts taxes, provide jobs and draw thousands of visitors. That helps other businesses prosper. They help with county-tribal partnerships for EMS/paramedic services and law enforcement to cover all the square miles in the county.

This act that was done is a slap in the face. These maps and whoever supports them are saying, “We want all that you Natives bring to our economic prosperity, but we don’t want you to have a voice.” It is scandalous that one of the commissioners is even running for governor.

The County Commission will be voting on this measure during its Dec. 9 meeting. Please contact your commissioners and tell them you want just and fair redistricting maps. The alternative is that Sandoval County will be sued — again. We as taxpayers are going to have to foot the bill.

Laura M. Montoya is the former Sandoval County treasurer. She lives in Rio Rancho.

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