Garfield County commissioners oppose latest congressional redistricting proposal
Garfield County commissioners are joining other Western Slope politicians in opposing the latest congressional redistricting map that would split the region, as well as Garfield County.
The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission on Sept. 3 released its latest redistricting proposal following the long-awaited release of the 2020 U.S. Census population counts.
Under the latest plan, the Western Slope would be split between the 2nd and 3rd Congressional Districts, putting the population centers of New Castle, Silt, Rifle and Parachute — including the home of current Republican 3rd District Congresswoman Lauren Boebert — into the 2nd District along with the northwestern part of the state and the Front Range cities of Boulder, Broomfield, Longmont and parts of Larimer County. That area is now represented by Boulder Democrat Joe Neguse.
If the latest proposal stands, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale would remain in the 3rd Congressional District with neighboring Eagle and Pitkin counties, along with the Grand Junction and the southwestern part of the state, plus Pueblo and several southern Colorado counties.
Garfield County commissioners wrote in a letter to the redistricting commission last week saying they are “disappointed and appalled” by the latest map. Earlier this summer, they had strongly urged the commission to maintain the Western Slope in a single district and preserve its rural character.
“This split recklessly dilutes the voice, and thus the representation, of rural, western Garfield County among the urban centers of Boulder, Broomfield, and parts of Larimer counties, all with whom Garfield County shares little in common,” the letter states. “There is no common bond between these urban centers and western Garfield County or northwest Colorado.”
Commissioners said in the letter they preferred a preliminary map proposed in June, before the Census data was released. It kept the Western Slope in the 3rd District, with some significant adjustments removing Pueblo and add Vail and Summit counties, which are now in the 2nd District.
The letter goes on to argue that the areas contained in the proposed new northern district are different geographically and environmentally, and geologically separated by the Continental Divide.
“When conflicts arise between competing interests, Garfield County will have no congressional support,” the commissioners argued.
Because Garfield County is made up of 67% public lands, it needs “educated and active congressional representation on public land issues” for the sake of its economic health, they continue.
“We cannot risk this issue taking a back seat to issues that may be more important to urban areas,” the letter states, calling the move “highly suspect and obvious and blatant gerrymandering.”
Virtual public hearings were held last week by the Redistricting Commission, during which similar concerns were raised by representatives of other Western Slope counties. The commission is expected to decide on a final plan and submit it to the Supreme Court by Sept. 28.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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