Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Lunch becomes political learning session

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of spending a little time with our state senator, Stuart Ingle.

We happened to see each other where we were both having lunch and decided to have coffee and dessert together. While we sat there chatting and munching, his cell phone interrupted him (a call from a state legislator for advice). It made me wonder if he ever has any time for himself.

It is amazing how hard some people work, even people who don’t get a salary. (State senators and representatives get some expenses reimbursed, but no salary.)

It is really gratifying to see how hard some of the people who represent us work, and this has nothing to do with anybody’s political party. Although ridiculing and complaining about politicians is much more fun, we should take some pleasure in recognizing dedicated public servants — whether we always agree with them or not.

Sen. Ingle actually has two jobs in the Legislature: senator representing District 27 and minority leader.

As minority leader, he leads his party in the Senate. Although he has no control over matters like the calendar and the legislative agenda, he is responsible for party caucuses and is a major decision-maker in positions on issues.

As a senator representing the 27th District he represents portions of Roosevelt, Curry, Chaves, and De Baca counties.

New Mexico has a bicameral (two-house) Legislature: the Senate with 42 senators and the House of Representatives with 70 representatives. This, of course, means we have 42 Senate districts and 70 House districts.

Sen. Ingle told me the size and number of all these districts, both Senate and House, is based on population. It made me wonder why we have two houses if they represent citizens the same way.

If we model the Legislature on Congress, shouldn’t one House directly represent citizens while the other represents a specific area regardless of its population density?

I didn’t want to make our senator feel like he was at work by asking him political questions because he deserves a break like anyone else, but I had to ask why we should have a bicameral Legislature when both houses represented the same thing.

The senator said he agreed. He thinks we should have a senator from each county and represent the county itself like our two U.S. senators represent the state as a whole in Congress. It makes no sense to have two houses in Santa Fe when they both represent population.

I’ve been thinking about what he said. I don’t know (or care) if the idea is Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, or Purple. It seems logical.

Having 42 Senate districts and 33 counties sounds weird to me. A map of the districts even looks strange. Each district is shaped like an amoeba with an eating disorder.

Portales’ district, District 27, has chunks of four counties — how on Earth does that make any sense?

I have to agree with Sen. Ingle on this, even though I probably disagree with him on other matters. We should have a state representative based on population irrespective of county lines and a state senator representing the county itself. That certainly seems logical and fair. It would save taxpayer money, too, because the Senate would have nine fewer members.

I’m really glad I had the opportunity to informally chat with our senator. I really enjoyed myself. Not only did I learn a lot, I thoroughly enjoyed having a cup of coffee with a really nice guy.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail:

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