The Socorro County commissioners approved a new commission district map last week. State statute and case law require redistricting. The commission districts need to have equal population sizes within five percent up or down. The commissioners have to redraw districts every 10 years if the census shows that the population has shifted enough. They had until the end of the year to approve a new map and hired New Mexico Demographic Research to help them.
For Socorro’s population the ideal district size is 3,319 people.
They considered three maps. The commissioners settled on map number two, because it is the best way to transfer the precincts, said Commission Chairman and District 3 Commissioner Manuel Anaya. Plans one and two both kept whole precincts together, whereas plan three would have split precincts. When the commissioners initially discussed the proposed plans in a meeting in late November, County Clerk Betty Saavedra said she would prefer to keep the existing 26 precincts whole, because it makes it easier to run elections.
The plan the commissioners ultimately selected is similar to the previous districts, said Anaya.
“It did break up District 3 a little bit, but because of the population change it made the most sense and is really the best way to help the clerk.”
One of the most significant changes, said demographer Rod Adair, is that two of the precincts that were in District 1 have been moved to other districts. District 1 is in the middle of the county within the city of Socorro and it was 16.6 percent, or 551 people, over the ideal district size. It had four precincts: 8, 3, 10 and 17.
Precincts 8 and 3 stayed in District 1, while precinct 17 ended up in District 4 and precinct 10 ended up in District 5.
The other major move was precinct 6 going from District 3 to District 5, said Adair.
The city of Socorro is still divided between several commission districts. The city has a population of 8,707 people, approximately half of the county’s population of 16,595.
With the new map, District 1 is 1.92 miles and has a population of 3,230. District 2 is 881.25 square miles and has a population of 3,426. District 3 is 10.98 square miles and has a population of 3,386. District 4 is 1,963.38 square miles with a population of 3,323. At 3,792.61 square miles, District 5 may be one of the largest commission districts in the state, said Adair. The population in the newly drawn District 5 is the exact same as the almost 2 square mile District 1: 3,230 people.