Colorado moves to independent commissions to redraw district boundaries
This is the first time that independent commissions made up of citizens will draw the boundaries of the legislative constituencies of Congress and the state.
Larimer County will be divided into several congressional districts for the first time in state history if the Colorado Supreme Court approves the new map from an independent redistribution commission.
On the map, Larimer County is divided into three districts of the United States House of Representatives: Fort Collins and everything to the west remains with Boulder County and others in District 2, which will now include Jackson and Routt counties. Loveland and Wellington are moving to District 4, which will continue to cover most of eastern Colorado. And Johnstown and Berthoud, which are located in part in Larimer and Weld counties, will be in the new District 8 with Greeley and a strip of Front Range extending south to Thornton and Commerce City.
The new districts, awaiting review by the courts, will come into effect for the mid-session of November 2022. A separate independent redistribution commission recently finalized the maps of the district. Colorado House of Representatives and State Senate. The new State Senate map largely resembles the current one, while the new House map includes an additional district encompassing the Windsor and Wellington regions. Cards from the state legislature will also need to be approved by the court.
State Supreme Court to rule on Colorado redistribution map
The Colorado Supreme Court is expected to rule on the congressional map by November 1 and the map at the legislative level by November 15.
The congressional map drew some criticism from Larimer County commissioners who advocated for the county to be preserved in one district and from Loveland residents who wanted their community to remain in District 2. Across the country. State, it faces legal challenges from Democratic and Latino advocacy groups who argue it gives the Republican Party an unfair advantage and dilutes the voting power of Colorado’s Latino people. The court could respond to legal challenges by making changes to the map or sending the cutting commission back to the drawing board.
Larimer County Commissioners are committed to working in good faith with the three representatives who will cover the county if the map is approved as is. But they questioned the commission’s decision to divide the county into several districts.
Keeping entire counties, towns and villages was part of the responsibilities of the independent redistribution commission, while ensuring equivalent populations between districts, preserving communities of interest and maximizing the number of competitive districts. Colorado does a redistribution every 10 years, but this year the process was different due to two voting measures that redesigned the process.
Colorado redistribution “a delicate process”
“I know it was a delicate process, and it was difficult trying to figure out how to do it in a way that was fair and met all of their criteria,” said Larimer County Commissioner Kristin Stephens. “But I would say that with Larimer County it was disappointing that we were as divided as we were.”
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Members of Colorado’s independent voter-approved Redistribution Commission acknowledged it was a difficult decision to divide counties, but said the final map, approved 11-1, represented a balance between different redistribution requirements. .
Redistribution commission chair Carly Hare, an unaffiliated voter who lives in part of District 4 that will be part of the new District 8, previously backed a map that kept Loveland and Fort Collins in the same district. But after several rounds of split votes, she and other commissioners changed their votes for the final card.
“I think this is the evolution of our conversation,” she said at the September 28 meeting where the committee approved a final map after seven rounds of voting. “It supports the work and honors many communities of interest that we have tried to center and for which we have reserved space. He honors across the lines. None of these maps will be able to be complete at every level, but I think (the final map) brings us to a place where we can all say that we (have been involved in) the debate and that the community investment has been captured. .
Adding a commissioner Elizabeth Wilkes, a Democratic voter who lives in District 5:
“We know that a map cannot contain an accurate representation of something that is as intangible as the connectedness people feel with each other. We know that the hierarchy that we must follow is not something that can meet all needs and demands. But we’ve worked really hard to listen to as many people as possible and do something that will work for as many communities as possible. “
Colorado redistribution map to divide Loveland, Fort Collins
The Loveland and Fort Collins division has been a particular sticking point for Larimer County Commissioners and some residents who submitted public comments during the redistribution process. The two are informal sister cities, although Loveland is more conservative than Fort Collins in local and national electoral patterns.
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“Loveland and Fort Collins are so connected in so many ways,” Stephens said. “A lot of people live in one community and work in the other community. The cities almost bleed together. So to split us into two congressional districts when we’re right next to each other is, I think, odd. “
Stephens and Commissioner Jody Shadduck-McNally, who both urged the commission to keep Larimer County in one district, said they heard Loveland residents worry that the community’s voice would be diluted in its new district. Loveland will be the second largest city in District 4, behind Highlands Ranch, with a population of about 11% of the district. But aside from Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock, and a few other suburbs in southern Denver, the identity of the new District 4 is largely rural. This will be a change for Loveland, which has been in a district with Fort Collins, Boulder, Estes Park, and north-central mountain communities since 2012.
“These are all large communities, but these areas of common interest are just very different,” said Shadduck-McNally, noting that much of District 4 does not face the scale of fire hazards in forest and flood encountered at Loveland.
On the flip side, the addition of Loveland and Wellington to District 4 could be a welcome change for right-wing voters in those communities – both of whom favored Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election. The new District 4 , currently represented by Representative Ken Buck, should be a safe Republican district. Fort Collins District 2, represented by Representative Joe Neguse, is expected to remain a safe Democratic district.
District 8 is another story. This is expected to be a neighborhood swing, which was a major selling point for several of the redistribution commission members who backed the new map. At least two people have announced their intention to run for the seat.
Larimer County’s congressional district division, coupled with District 8’s likely swing district status, means Larimer County commissioners will need to engage with more congressional officials. Commissioners coordinate with congressional representatives on topics such as federal disaster funding, transportation and infrastructure initiatives, and voter assistance dealing with immigration issues, among others.
The new structure will therefore add a layer of complexity to these contacts between the county and the federal government while also offering an opportunity for strengthened relations. The commissioners, who are Democrats, will likely have to work with Republican officials as well as Democrats. They expressed optimism that political divisions would not hinder the achievement of their goals for the county.
“We have a good enough track record to move beyond political issues,” said Commissioner and Chairman of the Board John Kefalas. “We really work with people regardless of their party affiliation and do our best to resolve issues.”
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The changes ahead have Shadduck-McNally thinking about the many ways life does not adhere to lines and boundaries, from fires and floods, to watersheds, to the ever-changing patterns of human interactions and community development.
“When we think about these cards, we also have to think about how our everyday life does not know limits and prejudices,” she said. “It’s just our natural flow of things. We hope people will be patient and persevering as we get there. It will be a change, but I will be positive and I will reflect on the opportunities that will arise from this change.
Jacy Marmaduke covers government liability for Coloradoan. Follow her on Twitter @jacymarmaduke. Support his work and that of other Colorado journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.