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Stories about New Mexico

New Mexico enacts new state Senate map

On Jan. 6, 2022, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed a new state Senate map into law, which will take effect for New Mexico’s 2022 legislative elections.

The New Mexico State Senate voted 25-13 to approve the map on Dec. 16, 2021, and the New Mexico House of Representatives approved the map 38-22 on Dec. 17. State Sens. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D) and Linda Lopez (D) introduced the map bill on Dec. 8 during a special session of the state legislature.

Lujan Grisham previously signed a new state House map into law on Dec. 29. New Mexico was the second state this cycle to approve a state House map on a different date than its state Senate map. The first was Connecticut, which approved its House map on Nov. 18, and its Senate map on Nov. 23. New Mexico completed its congressional redistricting on Dec. 17.

As of Jan. 7, 29 states have adopted new state legislative maps for both chambers and 21 states have not yet adopted state legislative maps. As of Jan. 7, 2012, 32 states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Nationwide, state legislative redistricting has been completed for 1,120 of 1,972 state Senate seats (56.8%) and 2,776 of 5,411 state House seats (51.3%).

New Mexico enacts new congressional map

On Dec. 17, 2021, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed new a congressional map into law, which will take effect for New Mexico’s 2022 congressional elections. 

The New Mexico State Senate approved the map 25-15 on Dec. 10, and the New Mexico House of Representatives approved the map 44-24 on Dec. 11. The votes were largely along party lines. In the Senate, no Republican lawmakers voted to approve and no Democratic lawmakers voted against the map. The same was true in the House, with the exception of Rep. Candie Sweetser (D) who voted against the map, making her the only Democrat in the legislature to do so.

Rep. Georgene Louis (D), Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D), and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto sponsored the enacted map bill, which they introduced on Dec. 7 during a special session of the state legislature. The map was based on the Concept H proposal submitted to the legislature by the New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee. Concept H was selected for transmission to the legislature on Oct. 15 along with two other proposals, and was drawn by the Center for Civic Policy on behalf of the People’s Power, People’s Maps Coalition. 

The New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee was made up of three citizens appointed by the State Ethics Commission, two appointed by Republican state legislative leaders, and two appointed by Democratic state legislative leaders. The committee was established by SB304, which Grisham signed into law on April 6. The legislation bars public officials, candidates, political party officeholders, federal legislative or state employees, and the relatives of federal or state officeholders from serving on the commission. The commission’s proposals do not bind the state legislature, which retains the authority to adopt, amend, or discard the proposals as it sees fit.

New Mexico is the 20th state to complete congressional redistricting. During the 2010 redistricting cycle, New Mexico enacted congressional maps on Dec. 29, 2011, twelve days later than their congressional map enactment date this cycle. The state legislature has not yet voted to approve new legislative maps.

New Mexico Sen. Jacob Candelaria leaves the Democratic party

New Mexico state Sen. Jacob Candelaria announced that he was leaving the Democratic party and would register as decline to state on Dec. 1.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Candelaria cited redistricting as the reason for changing his party affiliation. He said, “I don’t think that the decisions we make should be based on partisan ambitions, and it broke my heart to see already that the Senate maps deliberately dilute and gerrymander the west side of Albuquerque to preserve perceived partisan advantage for some members of the Democratic Party. You would strip representation from people that I represent, many of whom are Hispanic, simply because it benefits you at the ballot box.”

Candelaria was elected to the state Senate in 2012 and was last re-elected in 2020. Of the 42 members in the New Mexico Senate, 26 are Democrats, 15 are Republicans, and one is independent.

Ballotpedia has been tracking state legislators who have switched parties since 1994. Candelaria is the fourth state legislator in New Mexico we’ve identified who has switched parties. Three legislators switched to independents, and one switched to the Democratic Party.

Across the country, Ballotpedia has identified 24 state legislators who have switched from the Democratic Party to independent since 1994.

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Fiebelkorn and Grout win Albuquerque City Council seats in Dec. 7 runoff election

The nonpartisan general runoff election for Albuquerque City Council Districts 7 and 9 in New Mexico was on Dec. 7. The general election was held on Nov. 2, and the filing deadline for publicly funded candidates passed on July 5. The filing deadline for privately funded candidates passed on Aug. 24.

Tammy Fiebelkorn defeated Lori Robertson for the District 7 seat with 61.8% of the vote, and Renee Grout defeated Rob Grilley for the District 9 seat with 51.7% of the vote.

Odd-numbered seats on the nine-member Albuquerque City Council were up for election on Nov. 2. Only the races for District 7 and District 9 advanced to a general runoff. Two of the three incumbents running for re-election to the city council were defeated outright in the general election.

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico and the thirty-second largest city in the U.S. by population.

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Redistricting committees appointed, adjourned, and change in Ohio, New Mexico, and Utah

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting committee updates from Ohio, New Mexico, and Utah.

In Ohio, the state legislature announced members of the Joint Committee on Redistricting, which will be holding two hearings on congressional redistricting proposals before the Nov. 30 deadline for map enactment. The committee’s members are Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R), Sen. Rob McColley (R), Sen. Vernon Sykes (D), Rep. Beth Liston (D), Rep. Scott Oelslager (R), and Rep. Shane Wilkin (R). Sykes is the only member of the joint committee who was also a member of the Ohio Redistricting Commission.

The New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee adjourned on Oct. 29 after submitting its final set of map recommendations to the legislature. The commission’s proposals do not bind the state legislature, which retains the authority to adopt, amend, or discard the proposals as it sees fit. Additionally, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has veto authority over the maps. The legislature is expected to convene in December to begin considering proposals.

In Utah, former U.S. Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah) resigned from the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission on Oct. 26. Bishop said the commission favored urban areas and that the commission “is a metro-centric group. […] The majority are from Salt Lake County, we see things in a different way.” The executive director of Better Boundaries, an organization that supported the ballot proposition creating the commission, said: “We are encouraged by the work of the remaining six commissioners to suggest objective and qualified maps to the state legislative redistricting committee through this fair and transparent process.” On Oct. 29, Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson (R) appointed former Utah Commissioner of Agriculture and Food Logan Wilde (R) to replace Bishop on the commission.

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New Mexico county commission recall effort fails to collect enough signatures to get on ballot

An effort to recall Couy Griffin (R) from his position as the District 2 representative on the Otero County Commission in New Mexico did not collect enough signatures to get on the ballot. Recall supporters had to collect 1,574 signatures from registered voters in District 2 by Sept. 28, but they announced that they had fallen short by 345 signatures.

Recall supporters said Griffin had used the office for personal gain. Griffin said the allegations against him were baseless and politically motivated.

Griffin, who founded the organization Cowboys for Trump, was arrested in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 17, for his alleged role in the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. He was charged with “knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority,” according to the Alamogordo Daily News. Griffin was released from federal prison on Feb. 5.

After Griffin was arrested, District 1 Commissioner Gerald Matherly (R) and District 3 Commissioner Vickie Marquardt (R) called for his resignation, as did New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D). Griffin said he would not resign. He said he was accused of crimes but not convicted. “I just want those that have already come to the conclusion that I’m guilty, I just again ask you to put the brakes on a little bit and let the legal process take place,” Griffin said.

Griffin was elected to the three-member commission in 2018, defeating Democratic candidate Christopher S. Jones with 65% of the vote.

New Mexico allows recalls at the county level for “malfeasance or misfeasance in office or violation of the oath of office by the official concerned.” Those actions must have occurred during the official’s current term of office in order for a recall effort to be approved to circulate petitions.

Recall supporters filed paperwork to start the recall process on March 11. District Court Judge Manuel Arrieta ruled on April 8 that the recall effort could move forward. Griffin appealed that decision to the New Mexico Supreme Court on April 19. The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s ruling on June 28, allowing the recall effort to move forward.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Since Aug. 10, four states have implemented universal indoor mask requirements

Between Aug. 10 and Sept. 2, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington announced new indoor mask requirements for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.

In Illinois, an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals went into effect on Aug. 30. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced the policy on Aug. 26. Illinois had previously lifted its mask requirement, which lasted for 407 days between May 1, 2020, and June 11, 2021.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) announced an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 11, and announced an outdoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals on Aug. 24. The orders took effect on Aug. 13 and Aug. 27, respectively. Oregon had previously lifted its mask requirement, which lasted for 365 days between July 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021.

On Aug. 17, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals would take effect on Aug. 20. Previously, New Mexico had an indoor mask requirement in place only for unvaccinated individuals. It had lifted the requirement for vaccinated individuals on May 14, 2021.

In Washington, an indoor mask requirement for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals took effect on Aug. 23. Gov. Jay Inslee (D) announced the policy on Aug. 18. The requirement does not apply to small gatherings or office environments where everyone is vaccinated and interaction with the public is rare, or while working alone. Inslee previously lifted the indoor mask requirement for vaccinated individuals on May 13, 2021.

Three states currently have statewide mask orders for unvaccinated individuals, and 7 states have statewide mask orders for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All 10 of the states have Democratic governors.

In total, 39 states have issued statewide mask requirements. Thirty-two states (16 states with Republican governors and 16 states with Democratic governors) have allowed statewide orders to expire. Three states (Louisiana, Oregon, and Illinois) that allowed a statewide order to fully expire later reinstated a mask order.

New Mexico Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart resigns

Ryan Stewart resigned as New Mexico’s secretary of education on Aug. 20, citing health issues in his family. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) first appointed Stewart to the position in August 2019. Stewart said he would continue serving at the Public Education Department in an advisory role. 

Lujan Grisham announced on July 29 that former Los Alamos Public Schools Superintendent Kurt Steinhaus would become the new secretary of education. Steinhaus retired as superintendent in May. He previously served as deputy cabinet secretary of the state Public Education Department and as director of student and education programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Steinhaus began his career as a music teacher at Alamogordo Public Schools.

“I’d like to thank Secretary Stewart for his steady leadership and guidance during these past two years. I’m among the many who will miss him. I’d also like to thank my colleagues at the Higher Education and Early Childhood Education and Care departments for their warm welcome and expressions of support,” Steinhaus said during a news conference. “I look forward to collaborating with them regularly as we work together to build the nation’s best cradle to career education system. We are united in that commitment.”

The New Mexico secretary of education is an appointed state executive position in the New Mexico state government. The secretary serves as head of the state Public Education Department and is responsible for overseeing New Mexico’s education policy and program development, operational management of the department, and the distribution of educational funding.

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Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton resigns from New Mexico House of Representatives

Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D) resigned on July 30 following allegations of racketeering and money laundering. In July 2021, a federal grand jury subpoena was served on the Albuquerque Public Schools district where Stapleton was working as the district’s director of career and technical education.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the investigation was triggered by a mislabeled invoice and persistent inquiries from the Albuquerque Public Schools business office questioning Stapleton’s relationship with contractor Robotics Management Learning System LLC. Documents say the contractor was paid more than $5 million since 2006 and that more than $950,000 of that was funneled to the two businesses and two nonprofits with ties to Stapleton.

In her resignation letter, Stapleton denied the allegations. She said, “In short, because I must devote a significant amount of time and energy to fully defend against these allegations, I believe it is in the best interest of this state and the House of Representatives that my position as both a member of the House of Representatives and Majority Floor Leader be replaced with a representative who can fully and competently resume the tasks and duties that are necessary to continue serving this great state.”

Stapleton was first elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives to represent District 19 in 1994. 

As of August 2021, there have been 78 vacancies in 35 state legislatures. Fifty of those vacancies have been filled. Stapleton’s resignation is New Mexico’s second state legislative vacancy this year; the first was Melanie Ann Stansbury (D), who left the state House when she won the special election to represent New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District.

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The latest redistricting news from New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wisconsin

In this week’s Redistricting Review, we cover news out of New Jersey, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.

New Jersey: On July 20,New Jersey Supreme Court Chief Justice Stuart Rabner asked Democrats and Republicans to reconvene and pick a consensus candidate for the 13th member of the state’s congressional redistricting commission.

According to state law, the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the state legislature and the chair of the state’s two major political parties appoint the first 12 members of the congressional redistricting commission. The 12 commissioners then appoint the last commission member. If they cannot agree on an appointment, the commissioners must submit two names to the New Jersey Supreme Court and the court must then appoint the final commissioner.

Last week, when the commissioners could not reach a consensus by their July 15th deadline, they submitted former New Jersey Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace, Jr., and former Superior Court Judge Marina Corodemus to the court. According to the New Jersey Globe, “This is the first time the two parties haven’t agreed on a 13th member for congressional redistricting. The Supreme Court option wasn’t involved in 1991, 2001 and 2011.”

Chief Justice Rabner gave the commissioners until July 30th to respond with a consensus candidate. If they do not, the New Jersey Supreme Court will pick a tiebreaker candidate by August 10th.

New Mexico: The New Mexico Redistricting Committee’s new website launched last week. The website includes information on how to participate in committee meetings and a portal for submitting public comments or maps. It can be accessed here.

Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Supreme Court temporarily halted a lower court ruling blocking Republican legislators from hiring private attorneys with taxpayer funds. On July 15, the court unanimously agreed to take up the case, and in a 4-3 decision ordered that Republican lawmakers be allowed to hire private attorneys pending their decision.

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