PI Editorial: Garfield County commissioners should use more heart and head, less gut in approach to redistricting commission | PostIndependent.com

PI Editorial: Garfield County commissioners should use more heart and head, less gut in approach to redistricting commission

Post Independent Editorial Board

It’s not always easy to slice a pie.

As Colorado grows, so does the challenge of dividing it up into congressional and legislative districts.

During that process, Colorado brings numerous individuals together (the nonpartisan commission is equally made up of Republican, Democrat and unaffiliated voters) to try and thread the needle and get the best representative democracy they can.

Along the way, maps are released showing what they and staff involved in the process are thinking. One such map for congressional districts — which, importantly, has already been superseded by another map — caused our Garfield County commissioners to charge the commission with being overtly political in their deliberations.

That’s because the map — which, again is no longer in consideration — drew Rep. Lauren Boebert’s home in Silt out of Congressional District 3 and lumped much of Garfield County with a district ranging as far as Boulder.

Even if the map was still in consideration, Boebert could have still run for election in CD3, but that’s a minor point.

What’s more important is that while we agree with our county commissioners that the Western Slope is a distinct part of the state that deserves strong consideration in drawing district boundaries, we just don’t see any proof or evidence that Colorado’s process is being motivated or handled in a political way.

In fact, we’re proud of Colorado’s approach of taking redistricting out of the hands of politicians and giving it to a group of commissioners from across the political spectrum. Their job is a tough one, and as Colorado continues to grow dramatically along the Front Range, it might be worth giving less weight to mere population numbers. While the current process does prioritize communities of interest, it’s still less important than sheer numbers.

The county commissioners are absolutely right to want to preserve the Western Slope’s political representation in the legislature and Congress, but they would likely get better results politicking more from their hearts and heads and less from their guts.

To their credit, a letter the Garfield County commissioners released Friday on the most recent redistricting map was much more appreciative in its approach. While recognizing the redistricting commission’s work to create more agreeable congressional boundaries, the commissioners still advocated for legislative districts that sought to keep Garfield County whole. This kinder approach might be better received had they not been so reactionary in their earlier feedback, but we’re glad to see a much cooler response this time.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Bryce Jacobson, Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Annie Bell and Amy Connerton.

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