A bill introduced by House Democrats Friday during the a special session of Legislature proposes splitting Quay County into four legislative districts.
“This bill will remove me from representing Quay, Union and Harding County,” said Rep. Dennis Roch.
Roch said HB 39 was introduced by Rep. Mary Helen Garcia and would split Tucumcari’s representation into four districts — 63, 67, 68 and 70.
“They would place portions of Tucumcari and Quay County into districts which have no intentions of moving their home bases,” Roch said. “This would be disastrous for the representation of Quay County's interest in the legislature.”
Roch said the District 63 home base is in Santa Rosa, District 68 in Raton/Springer and District 70 in Las Vegas. He said his district coverage would change to Quay County precincts 2, 3 and 4 — Forrest, San Jon and Nara Visa, extending south to Hobbs.
Roch said this is being done because the population numbers in those districts has fallen 15 percent. He said in the past, the 70 legislative district have had a population base of 29,000.
“The population growth has been concentrated in the west side of the state,” Roch said. “Tucumcari is basically being carved up to pad the population numbers for the representatives in those three districts where population has dropped.”
Roch said he plans to fight HB 39 in an effort to continue to serve the interest of Tucumcari, Union and Harding County.
“I have had the pleasure of representing these county’s residents for the past three and a half years,” Roch said. “I would hate to see Tucumcari divided up for the sake of population numbers and effectively diminishing their chances for proper representation.”
Tucumcari City Commissioners have known redistricting could affect eastern New Mexico and that Tucumcari may end up in another district.
“I was hoping we would have a representative from our area,” said Commissioner Robert Lumpkin.
Commissioner Jimmy Sandoval said the representatives from the north would not have Tucumcari’s legislative needs as a priority.
“They will take care of home first,” Sandoval said. “How will they know the needs of our town or county.”
Lumpkin said he appreciates Roch’s efforts of the past three years and his desire to get this current information to the residents of Tucumcari.
“That shows the dedication and concern of our representative,” Lumpkin said.
Roch said HB 39 will be heard Sunday in the House Voters and Elections Committee, chaired by Rep. Garcia.
“I have told the legislature I fully intend to fight this bill,” Roch said. “I will do all I can to see that it does not make it through committees to the house floor for a vote.”
Rep. Mary Helen Garcia could not be reached immediately for comment.
The proposed redistricting of Quay County:
District 63 — Quay county precincts 1, 7, 9 and 11
District 67 — Quay county precincts 2, 3 and 4
District 68 — Quay county precincts 5, 6, 8 and 10
District 70 — Quay county precinct 12
You can view HB 39 at the New Mexico Legislature website at http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/_session.aspx?Chamber=H&LegType=B