State House redistricting could see Rifle and Silt join Mesa County — and current Rep. Perry Will cut out of HD57
The current Colorado House District 57 representative and two west-Garfield County communities would be drawn out of the northwestern Colorado legislative district under the current proposal before the state’s Independent Redistricting Commission.
The Commission on June 29 released the preliminary state House, Senate and Congressional district maps that are to be reviewed over the next several months, including opportunities for public input.
As currently drawn, though, state Rep. Perry Will, R-New Castle, would no longer reside in House District 57, which he now represents.
Will lives on rural Garfield Creek Road south of New Castle.
As currently configured, that area, along with the population centers of Rifle and Silt, would become part of a swath of south-central Garfield County proposed to be moved into the House District 55, along with the rural portions of Mesa County and the northern reaches of Delta County.
District 57 would continue to include the remainder of Garfield County, including the population centers of Parachute-Battlement Mesa, New Castle, Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, plus all of Rio Blanco, Moffat and Routt counties, including Steamboat Springs.
“Changes in population necessitated the splitting of some counties,” explained Jeremiah Berry, a member of the Legislative Legal Services staff who is the managing attorney for the Independent Redistricting Commission.
In order to gain population in District 55, the section of Garfield County was needed to meet the goal of having equal population in each of the state legislative districts, he said.
State legislative and Congressional districts are redrawn every 10 years in conjunction with the federal census. Colorado voters in 2018 approved state Constitutional Amendments Y and Z, which set up the nonpartisan Independent Redistricting Commission.
According to the commission’s rules, new districts cannot be drawn for the purpose of protecting incumbent legislators or declared candidates for specific seats in the Colorado General Assembly or Congress.
According to the rules, the districts must:
• Have equal population, as required by the U.S. Constitution, with a population deviation of no more than 5% between the most populous and the least populous district in each chamber
• Be composed of contiguous geographic areas
• Comply with the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” as amended
• Preserve whole communities of interest and whole political subdivisions, such as counties, cities and towns; however, a division of a county, city, city and county, or town is permitted where a community of interest’s legislative issues are more essential to the fair and effective representation of residents of the district. When the commission divides a county, city, city and county, or town, it shall minimize the number of divisions of that county, city, city and county, or town.
• Be as compact as is reasonably possible
• Maximize the number of politically competitive districts
The commission is now launching a series of presentations and public hearings across the state on the proposed new state legislative and congressional districts. A virtual hearing was held on Tuesday, and in-person hearings begin later this week.
The first Western Slope hearing is slated for 7 p.m. July 23 in Steamboat Springs, followed by an 11 a.m. July 24 hearing in Craig. The commission will be in Carbondale at 11 a.m. July 31.
Rep. Will was not immediately available for comment Tuesday on the prospect of being drawn out of HD 57.
Garfield County commissioners briefly addressed some concerns about the state redistricting during their regular meeting Tuesday. Commissioners passed a resolution urging the commission to ensure Colorado has two distinct rural congressional districts, preserving the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains as a whole.
“It looks like that’s the direction they’re going, but you never know until it’s done,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said of the proposed new 3rd Congressional District on the Western Slope.
The commissioners may want to weigh in on the state redistricting, as well, he said.
“After the roadshow of public hearings concludes, and once Colorado receives the census redistricting data (after Aug. 16), staff will refine the maps and present revisions to the commissions for consideration and approval,” according to a June 29 press release from the Redistricting Commission.
Written public comments will still be taken after that time, as well.
1. (Preferred) Use the web form to submit public comment here [https://redistricting.colorado.gov/public_comments/new]
2. Email your written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org (include full name and ZIP code).
3. Use the Redistricting Online Portal to draw and submit your map.
5. Testify during a public hearing. The commissions are holding joint public hearings around the state in July and August.
Written materials can also be submitted by mail to:
Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions, 1580 Logan St, Suite 430, Denver, CO 80203
After adopting final state senate and state congressional maps, the commission will submit maps to the Colorado Supreme Court for review and approval.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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