City councilors debate proposal to add two new city council districts

Albuquerque city councilors work to tackle neighborhood and problems, and that work is supposed to be part-time—but it has been so overwhelming for one councilor, he wants help. 

“More direct representation of the population of Albuquerque is what it’s about,” City Councilor Isaac Benton said.

Since the ’70s, nine people have represented Albuquerque voters on city council. Now, Councilor Isaac Benton wants new voices on the team.

“I think the only solution is to break it all down a little more,” he said. 

His proposal calls for two new council districts to bring the total from 9 to 11 councilors. Besides the coming national census, what’s behind it, in part, is what Benton’s represented for the last five years—some of the city’s most differing areas jammed into a single district. 

“I believe District 2 should be broken up,” Benton said. 

Benton’s District 2 has downtown, tourist-driven Old Town, the agricultural North Valley, and nearly all of the city’s poorest neighborhoods outside of the International District. 

“It all needs to be broken down a little more and people’s interests better represented,” Benton said. 

However, longtime westside City Councilor Ken Sanchez sees it different.

“We have nine representatives representing the area. I think we’ve all done a good job,” Sanchez said. 

Sanchez said he’ll oppose any additional council members, fearing a big council may be too much. 

“I feel nine representatives when the U.S. Senate has two members; and the Bernalillo County Commission, which represents a large base, represents…has five members representing them is more than adequate,” Sanchez said. 

Meanwhile, Councilor Pat Davis thinks more councilors may be a good idea, saying he too has felt the crunch of representing diverse neighborhoods,

“If we’re serious about our city growing and us being more responsive to people as more people vote, we should pay more attention to how many people we can reasonably serve,” Davis said. 

City councilors will ultimately have the say on whether this proposal goes to voters. That could happen in the next month. 

The last time city council went through re-districting was in 2010. That added a new district to the southern end of the west side. 

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