Post Independent opinion: New Castle should be part of District 61
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
As Colorado House district lines are being redrawn, there is disagreement over where the line should be drawn in Garfield County, and even whether one should be drawn in the county at all.
Our recommendation is to draw the House District 61 western boundary between New Castle and Silt.
Currently, the western boundary of House District 61 is between Silt and Rifle. A proposal from the Colorado Reapportionment Commission would move that line to South Canyon Creek Road, moving New Castle and Silt into a newly created District 63.
Some residents of New Castle have stated their preference to remain in the same district as Glenwood Springs, with which they feel they have more in common than towns to the west.
Commissioner John Martin, on the other hand, flatly does not want Garfield County to be split at all.
Yet Garfield County, at approximately 56,000 people, is not large enough to constitute a 77,000-person district of its own. If Garfield were kept whole, another county would have to be split to make up a 77,000-person district. If splitting counties is a problem, keeping Garfield intact would just shunt that problem to another county. And it just so happens that Garfield offers politically diverse sides that are contiguous with existing districts. It’s only a matter of where the line falls.
Presumably most important to district residents is to be represented with others who share similar concerns, needs and interests. To be separated arbitrarily from neighbors in order to make equal tallies along the bottom of a table is unsatisfactory.
Muddying the waters in this debate is the constitutional intention of reapportionment. As mentioned, the district lines are redrawn following the Census so that each contains about the same number of people. As difficult a task as that may be, the districts are also supposed to be competitive for the political parties.
With that in mind, keeping communities of similar political leaning together may not help the reapportionment committee reach its goals. Therefore it’s important that residents let the committee know how they would like the lines to be drawn.
What makes the most sense to us is drawing District 61’s boundary west of New Castle, including the town with those in the Roaring Fork Valley.
After giving reapportionment some thought, it’s clear how a group of people – such as the town of New Castle – can become disenfranchised by being carelessly placed in a district where their concerns will be quite different from those of the majority.
So no matter how the districts are drawn, representatives have a responsibility to listen to all of their constituents, and constituents have the responsibility to make their opinions and needs known to their representatives. It’s a two-way street.
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