Grand back in Boulder district in state House reapportionment
December 8, 2011
Grand County is sending an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court opposing the latest Colorado House District reapportionment map, which lumps Jackson and Grand counties with Boulder, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.
The court rejected the reapportionment committee’s map proposed by Independent Reapportionment Committee chairman Mario Carrera. That map grouped Grand County with Eagle and Summit counties, a map that kept Grand County tied exclusively with other West Slope counties.
But the Supreme Court rejected that map because too many counties statewide had been split.
The current map submitted to the court was one supported by the Democratic committee members on the board, according to The Colorado Statesman newspaper.
The map keeps Garfield county whole (long a county split between two districts), which reduces District 57 (the district in which Grand County has been) to Moffat, Rio Blanco and Garfield counties. Routt and Eagle counties would make up one House district, and Jackson, Grand, Clear Creek, Gilpin and part of Boulder would be in another district.
“I think what happened is we have more Democrats on the commission than we thought we did,” said Grand County Republican Chair Harry Kottcamp, of Granby, who urged Grand County commissioners on Tuesday to send comments against the proposed map to the Supreme Court by a Dec. 8 deadline.
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According to the report in The Colorado Statesman, the state legislative maps “draw at least five pairs of incumbent GOP lawmakers into the same seats.”
“I really feel we had assurances from everybody, that they understood our plight,” Kottcamp said of the Reapportionment Commission. “They were going to do everything they could to get us in a West Slope district, and in the last minute, they lost reason and did the political thing. We had every indication they wanted to be fair up until this past week.”
“We have nothing in common with Boulder,” said Grand County Commissioner Nancy Stuart (R-Granby). “Boulder will have far the majority of votes.”
The new district would have 60 percent of its population in Boulder County, with the remaining 40 percent distributed among the other four counties. Of that population, in 2010 44 percent were registered Democrats in the proposed district, 23 percent Republicans and 32 percent unaffiliated.
Upset about the changes in schedules, deadlines and procedures of map submissions, Republicans are now in an “active battle” within the commission, Kottcamp said.
Grand County political officials are in shock all the testimony and letters Grand County citizens submitted during the public process have been ignored. Grand County citizens were the most vocal of all citizens in the state during the reapportionment process, according to Jeremiah Berry, chair of the reapportionment staff.
“It kind of upsets me all the trips I took all over this state to keep them from boondoggling us,” said Grand County Democratic Party Chairman Bob McVay, of Hot Sulphur Springs. “And then they went and did it anyway. Once it went into court, the lawyers took over.”
McVay, who recognizes some members of his own party in Grand County disagree with him, doesn’t think Grand County is within the same “community of interest” as other counties in the proposed district. “Economically, socially, historically, we are worlds apart,” he said.
But Democratic Party member Jane Mather of Fraser is one member who sees the new district as appropriate for Grand County.
Agriculture, forestry (including beetle-kill mitigation) and ranching are just as prevalent in Boulder County as here, she said.
“I see as much cattle driving the 16 miles between Longmont and Boulder as I see in the same distance between Hot Sulphur and Winter Park,” she said.
And the values of citizens align when it comes to Grand County’s river water, she said.
“Those who live in Boulder likely have a strong interest in preserving our environment and supporting tourism. They believe in conservation and don’t want to take our water,” she said.
Mather cited a quote attributed to the pending district’s Rep. Claire Levy, which was published in East Slope newspapers following a recent town hall meeting during which Levy came out against the expansion of Gross Dam as part of the Moffat Firming Project: “We can’t keep sucking water out of a river and killing it,” Levy said.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603