RBC I A new iteration of congressional district maps has put the Western Slope back together again. The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission will work to make further changes in the coming weeks.
Amendments Y and Z, which both passed in 2018, set up independent comissions to redraw district maps according to specific rules, chiefly equal population splits across contiguous geographic areas, grouping of “communities of interest,” and other parameters. In Rio Blanco County, both amendments passed by about 100 votes.
The commission includes four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters, who work with a nonpartisan team of staff to create the maps with 2020 U.S. Census data. Colorado qualifies for an additional congressional district due to population growth over the last 10 years.
STATE HOUSE REDISTRICTING
Drafts of state legislative maps were released Monday and place Rio Blanco County in a proposed House District 49 with Moffat, Routt (excluding Steamboat Springs), Jackson and west Larimer County.
The proposed state House District 49, “drew itself to a certain degree,” according to redistricting attorneys Pierce Lively and Jacob Baus, after commissioners agreed to try to keep the populous Roaring Fork valley in a single district and grouped Steamboat Springs with other ski areas.
Commissioner John Buckley expressed concerns about the rural, conservative northwest corner of the state crossing the Continental Divide to be grouped with a portion of Larimer County. According to congressional staff, the only included “urban center” from Larimer would be Estes Park; the rest is sparsely-populated Roosevelt National Forest land.
Commissioners Hunter Barnett and Gary Horvath both asked about political competitiveness for candidates, which is further down the list of priorities on the amendments. With the way the maps are drawn currently, Horvath believed Rio Blanco County’s proposed district would favor a Republican candidate by more than 20 points.
STATE SENATE REDISTRICTING
For state senate, the county would be in District 8 with Moffat, Routt, Jackson, Grand, Clear Creek, Delta and Gunnison counties as well as portions of Mesa and Garfield counties.
With the state senate map, “tricky” population density again played a huge role, according to commission staffer Julia Jackson.
You can view the proposed maps at https://redistricting.colorado.gov/content/2021-redistricting-maps.
You can submit public comments at https://redistricting.colorado.gov/public_comments/new