A better state Senate district?
June 28, 2011
A glance at the preliminary Colorado Senate District map proposed this week by a bipartisan reapportionment commission shows Grand County being moved out its current District 16 boundaries and into District 8 along with Summit, Routt, Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties.
The proposed district boundaries, while not necessarily ideal, feature several notable improvements from a Grand County perspective compared to the status quo.
Based on 2010 Census figures, new state Senate districts comprising about 143,000 people each must be redrawn this year. Criteria upon which the districts are based theoretically include communities of interest and political competitiveness.
Existing District 16 fails both of those tests.
In District 16, Gilpin and Grand counties are thrown in with Summit and part of Boulder County, conferring a decided political advantage within the district to the Democratic Party.
As for communities of interest, what Boulder and Grand counties have in common is a boundary along the Continental Divide – and little more. It’s almost as if the district was drawn utilizing the same Mapquest mentality that tells us the closest Home Depot to Fraser is just over the hill in Boulder.
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The proposed district, on the other hand, at least has the virtue of being exclusively on the West Slope. There may be commonality on issues such as transmountain water diversions, conspicuously nonexistent in District 16.
The inclusion of Summit and Routt counties ought to serve to politically balance the district between the two major parties, though it wouldn’t be surpising if some folks in Summit County are less than enamored with the prospect of sharing a state senator with the far flung, semi-arid towns the likes of Meeker and Maybell.
Establishing boundaries for such districts is a daunting task in politically and economically eclectic Colorado. So far – and it’s sure to change before all is said and done – this attempt appears to be a reasonable start.