This letter to the editor appeared in the Dec. 26, 2021, issue of the Rio Rancho Observer
On last week’s editorial page of the Rio Rancho Observer, one of the newspaper’s reporters explained what the Democratic Party of Sandoval County needs to do to win elections, and in a separate opinion column, the Republican chair of the Sandoval County Commission explained the superiority of the recent county redistricting that he and his fellow Republican commissioners passed. I consider both opinions prime examples of colonial, white, paternalistic mansplaining of how county government and politics operate.
Reporter Hollinshead’s instant expertise on how the county Democratic party should win elections seems to derive from his attendance at a couple of county commission meetings. He failed to research the values and issues of the Democratic party, and more egregiously misunderstands how the party interacts with the county’s indigenous peoples. The party merely informed the native sovereign entities of the redistricting, since the County Commission had failed to discuss the redistricting with them.
Since Mr. Hollinshead explains how the Democratic party should operate, the opening to explain how the Rio Rancho Observer should operate is fair game for me to comment from my position as a retired newspaper reporter and editor and the current head of communications for the local Democratic party. The newspaper refuses to publish news about county party events, activities, people, and accomplishments. Except for its own candidate questionnaire, it refuses to publish information about candidates or their campaigns – reserving it for revenue-producing advertisements. It does publish opinions and guest opinions on political issues – for that thank you. Since the newspaper now employs a political pundit, it should publish and include local politics as part of its regular reporting.
Chairman Heil in his piece paints a rosy picture of the gerrymandered redistricting as best for the county, especially for its indigenous natives. Of course, he never bothered to talk with them, and at the two public comment sessions they opposed his imposition of a white man’s, top-down version of what’s best for them.
Plan D, as accepted by the Republican-led commission, does not create electoral equity. It violates the nonpartisan redistricting principle of keeping communities of interest together. Personally, as a resident of Corrales Heights in southeast Rio Rancho, I am moved into a district dominated by Corrales and Placitas. While Commissioner Katherine Bruch of Placitas is an exemplary public servant, as a Rio Rancho resident I have been exiled from my neighbors.
One last point to Mr. Hollinshead: Democrats don’t have to wait until 2024 to gain the majority of the County Commission, as Mr. Michael Meeks, who voted for this gerrymandered redistricting, must stand for re-election in 2022.
Delbert F. Schafer