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Townsend appoints former GOP chair to redistricting committee

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House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia, has appointed a former state Republican Party chair to the state’s newly formed redistricting advisory committee.

Townsend, the highest ranking Republican in the New Mexico House of Representatives, announced in a press release Monday that he has tapped Ryan Cangiolosi for the New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee.

“Cangiolosi brings an understanding of the needs of New Mexicans through his various experiences in community service and advocacy. We all look forward to a refreshing new approach in redistricting that will meet the needs of the people instead of the desires of the power brokers,” Townsend said.

Cangiolosi was deputy chief of staff to former Gov. Susana Martinez before serving as chair of the Republican Party of New Mexico from 2017 to 2018. He is now director of Economic and Community Development at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, as well as a supply and logistics officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves.

“It is an honor to receive an appointment to the Citizen Redistricting Committee,” Cangiolosi stated in the press release. “I am confident that this process will work towards uniting New Mexico and allow the state an opportunity to lead the nation in a fair, open and transparent redistricting process.”

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The speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives, Senate president pro tem and minority leaders in both the House and Senate appoint one person each to the committee. The New Mexico State Ethics Commission appoints the remaining three members: a retired New Mexico Supreme Court or Appeals Court judge to chair the committee and two other members who are not registered with either of the state’s two largest political parties.

New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf, D-Santa Fe, recently picked former state Sen. Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, to be on the committee. Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart appointed former State Sen. Lisa Curtis, Albuquerque, and Senate Minority Leader Greg Baca, R-Belen, appointed Christopher Saucedo of the New Mexico State University Board of Regents.

According to a recent press release, former New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez has been selected by the Ethics Commission to chair the committee. The commission’s two other appointments are state demographer Robert Rhatigan and Joaquin Sanchez, a public school teacher and community activist.

The Secretary of State’s Office states that in all, 69 people applied to be on the committee. Only one Chaves County resident, James Manatt Jr. of Roswell, was among the applicants.

Earlier this year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 304 (SB 304), which establishes the New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee to develop plans for the state’s decennial redistricting process. According to the legislation, the committee will develop plans for the boundaries of the state’s U.S. House, state Senate, state House and Public Education Commission districts every 10 years.

The committee then comes up with three separate recommendations for district plans that will go before the Legislature and the governor for their approval, according to the text of SB 304. The committee’s recommendations are non-binding.

Before the plans are published, the legislation states the committee must hold a minimum of six public meetings that allow for public participation.

New Mexico is one of six states with an advisory committee for redistricting, according to the National Council of State Legislatures.

State Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, of Senate District 27 — which consists of Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Lea and Roosevelt counties — said it is unclear what impact the redistricting committee will have and how closely lawmakers will follow the recommendations.

“This is the first time we’ve had an actual commission like this,” said Ingle, who has been in the Senate since 1985.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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