Roaring Fork Valley, Garfield County together in post-census state House map plan; Senate districts shift in latest plan
A post-U.S. Census plan to redraw the state’s legislative district boundaries would create an all-Roaring Fork Valley and Garfield County Colorado House District 57.
At the same time, the plans put forth by staff for formal consideration by the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission splits Garfield County into two Senate districts.
The latest plan was formally presented to the Legislative Redistricting Commission on Tuesday. It has current HD 57 Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle, remaining in the same district he now represents.
The newly drawn House district would include all of Garfield and Pitkin counties, along with the small portion of Eagle County that’s in the Roaring Fork Valley.
However, the new plan moves current Senate District 8 representative, Sen. Bob Rankin of Carbondale, into the newly redrawn SD 5. That district would include the Garfield County communities of Carbondale, Glenwood Springs, Silt, Rifle and unincorporated Battlement Mesa, plus all of Pitkin, Eagle, Lake and Summit counties.
However, as currently drawn, New Castle and Parachute would be in the sprawling Senate District 8 with the remainder of Garfield County north of Interstate 70. That district would also include Rio Blanco, Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand and Clear Creek to the north and east, plus a northern section of Mesa County and all of Delta and Gunnison counties to the south.
As with the concurrent Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission process, which underwent even more changes Monday in part to try to appease Western Slope concerns, the state legislative plan is a work in progress.
Additional Legislative Commission meetings are planned later this week, and the maps could change yet again.
The new state Senate and House staff plans were prepared using 2020 Census data, factoring in public comments and input from the Legislative Redistricting Commission.
The commission is required to approve the final plan by Oct. 11.
The first staff map represents a fairly radical departure from a preliminary map released in June that had taken the section of Garfield County south of Interstate 70 and put it in House District 55.
The new plan factors in population changes across the state, in an effort to try to maintain equal population in each of the state House and Senate districts.
Garfield County commissioners had opposed the previous state legislative district map, saying it failed to keep communities of interest and counties whole.
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said Tuesday that, while the newly proposed HD 57 that unites the Roaring Fork Valley and all of Garfield County makes sense, he has concerns about the new senate districts. In particular, he would prefer to see New Castle and Parachute together in the proposed new SD 5, or some other arrangement.
During the Tuesday Legislative Redistricting Commission meeting, concerns were also expressed by some about the new northwestern House and Senate districts. In particular, the newly proposed HD 49 straddles the Continental Divide, taking in the western part of Larimer County.
That was the tradeoff for keeping the Roaring Fork Valley whole in the new HD 57, and maintaining equal population and communities of interest in other districts, explained commission staff member Jake Baus.
Garfield County commissioners had also expressed serious concerns about the direction of the congressional redistricting map at their regular Monday meeting in Silt.
The first staff plan released Sept. 3 split the Western Slope between Congressional Districts 2 and 3, putting Rifle, Silt and New Castle in with the Front Range population centers of Boulder, Broomfield and Longmont.
“The Western Slope should not be divided,” Commissioner Mike Samson of Rifle said. “I feel like we’re being ripped off as a constituency through gerrymandering and politics being played with Colorado.”
A Monday afternoon meeting of the Congressional Redistricting Commission made it clear that the process of coming up with a map that works is more about dealing with the latest population data, while also attempting to maintain communities of interest.
Complicating matters is that the urban communities along the Interstate 25 corridor grew much faster over the past decade than the rest of the state, making for some challenges in keeping equal population in some of the more-rural districts.
After a long discussion, the commission forwarded a new proposed map to staff to use as a starting point. It keeps Garfield County, as well as most of the Western Slope, together in CD 3.
A second Congressional Redistricting staff plan is scheduled to be released Thursday which is expected to reflect that change. Another Congressional Redistricting Commission meeting is set for Sept. 20.
The same process, subject to similar deadlines, is about to play out with regards to state legislative district boundaries, so nothing is set in stone.
Alex Sanchez, executive director of Voces Unidas in Glenwood Springs, has been vocal on the state and congressional redistricting process in the interest of fair representation for Latino residents.
Sanchez said Monday that his organization also was opposed to splitting the Western Slope between two congressional districts, and would prefer to see the region kept whole.
The new Colorado House District 57, as configured in the plan released Monday, accomplishes a primary goal of Voces Unidas, he said, in that it includes the entire region from Parachute to Aspen in one district.
The Eagle River Valley is also better represented by the latest House map, he said. However, the new Senate District 5 would exclude New Castle, he noted, which fails in keeping the valley connected, he said.
“I believe that could be repaired,” he said, adding he plans to participate in the upcoming virtual public hearings on the state redistricting plan.
These will be the final hearings regarding state redistricting, however written public comments can still be submitted.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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