Two members of The University of New Mexico community were part of a statewide task force recommending major changes to the state's redistricting process.

According to the report released Dec. 18, 2020, the overarching recommendation from the New Mexico First Redistricting Task Force is for legislation to make redistricting more fair, open and transparent. Among the 18 consensus recommendations are calls for an obligation to consider public input, rejection of favoring incumbents or political parties, a requirement to justify any deviation from the ideal population and an independent group to develop maps for the  Legislature to choose from.

The 25-person task force had two members with ties to UNM: Maurreen Skowran and Cedric Page.

“These major reforms would make our state more ‘small-d’ democratic,” Skowran said. “They would make the criteria standard, and put communities front and center, instead of politicians.”

Skowran is a UNM alumnus and data analyst for UNM’s Geospatial and Population Studies. Her paper on “Ways to Evaluate Redistricting Plans” was published by Springer in the book “Population Change and Public Policy,” which was released online Dec. 10.

Cedric Page was the branch executive director of UNM Los Alamos from 2007 to 2014. Both Page and Skowran have degrees in geography. Skowran earned her B.S. from UNM in 2016. Page earned his bachelor’s from Syracuse University in 1967, and his master’s and doctorate from Rutgers in 1969 and 1977. Page represented the Santa Fe branch of the NAACP.

Taskforce recommendations received support from at least 85 percent of members. The group met in October through December, and it heard from many experts. Members were chosen from more than 140 nominees, represented a diversity of New Mexico perspectives and backgrounds.

New Mexico First convened and facilitated the task force, with funding from the Thornburg Foundation.