Garfield County commissioners would prefer entire county to be part of House District 57
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Garfield County commissioners would prefer to go back in time to a decade ago when the entire county was part of the old Colorado House District 57.
But, if that can’t happen, they’re also fine leaving things the way they are, the commissioners advised the Colorado Reapportionment Commission at a special meeting last Thursday.
Currently, the eastern part of Garfield County, including Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, New Castle and Silt, is in HD 61 along with the Roaring Fork Valley section of Eagle County and all of Pitkin, Gunnison and Hinsdale counties.
That district is currently represented by Glenwood Springs Democrat Roger Wilson.
The western parts of Garfield County, including Rifle and Parachute/Battlement Mesa, are in HD 57, which encompasses the entire northwest corner of the state, including Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Jackson and Grand counties.
Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, is the current representative from that district.
“We would prefer to go back to the historic 57th District and keep Garfield County as whole as possible,” County Commission Chairman John Martin said after the Thursday meeting. “That way we would have one representative for the entire county.”
That was the top preference forwarded by the all-Republican Board of County Commissioners to the Reapportionment Commission, which is working to redraw the state’s legislative boundaries following the 2010 U.S. Census.
“Or, leave it the way it is, that’s our second preference,” Martin said.
A similar situation exists with the state senate boundaries as well.
Although most of Garfield County is in Senate District 8, now represented by Sen. Jean White, R-Hayden, the Battlement Mesa area is in District 7, represented by Sen. Steve King of Mesa County.
Rep. Wilson said he likely will have to give up a small part of the current House District 61 in order to meet the population requirements of the reapportionment process.
However, he prefers to maintain the district much as it is now in order to preserve communities with common interests within the same district, as well as to maintain connectivity.
“I do have that piece of Eagle County that includes El Jebel and Basalt, which makes sense in terms of keeping the Roaring Fork Valley together,” Wilson said. “It’s really in the best interests of the people, and frankly the representatives, too, if the watersheds, which are also the transportation corridors, are kept fairly intact.”
He said Garfield County can actually benefit from having two representatives in the State House.
“That way the county has representation from two different representatives, so you can look at it that we get a stronger voice as a result,” Wilson said.
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.