Latest Colorado redistricting map lumps Grand County, western Boulder County | SkyHiNews.com

Latest Colorado redistricting map lumps Grand County, western Boulder County

Tonya Bina
tbina@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, CO Colorado

Grand County is now lumped with most of Boulder, Clear Creek and Gilpin counties in the preliminary statewide map of Colorado House districts.

Members of the commission to redraw or “reapportion” state House and Senate districts now will be taking maps on the road, touring Colorado to take public comments before a final map will be drawn and submitted to the State Supreme Court for approval by the Oct. 7 deadline.

But Grand County community leaders are coming out against the proposal to group Grand County with eastern slope counties while treating the Continental Divide as a “common boundary.”

“It’s like saying people on one side of Lake Erie are adjacent to the people on the other side of Lake Erie,” said Grand County Republican Chair Harry Kottcamp of Granby, who plans to attend at least three of the upcoming 25 public meetings statewide during the month of August. He invites members of the public to especially join him at the Boulder and Steamboat reapportionment meetings.

Kottcamp is part of a bipartisan movement to convince commission members that Grand County still belongs in a district with other Western Slope counties – Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco and most of Garfield counties.

Western Slope counties have common interests in tourism and agriculture, said Grand County Commissioner James Newberry (D-Tabernash), and share roles in the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, judicial districts and the Colorado River District.

“We really want to fight to stay represented on the West Slope,” Newberry said, “where we have so much more in common.

And Grand County is willing to “investigate all of its legal options” if it ultimately ends up sharing a district with Boulder, Clear Creek and Gilpin, Newberry said.

Grand County House district advocates are using the state’s own constitution as reason for committee members to change course.

In reapportioning state House districts, committee members are urged to consider “communities of interest, including ethnic, cultural, economic, trade area, geographic and demographic factors … wherever possible,” the Colorado Constitution reads.

“They have violated all six criteria to be used according to the Constitution,” Kottcamp said. “To me it shows they have ignored it. We should not be merged in a district with Boulder.”

Squeaky wheels

According to Redistricting Staff Director Jeremiah Barry in Denver, the reapportionment commission members “have heard more about Grand and Jackson counties than any other part of the state” during the present redistricting process. Redistricting occurs following the decennial Census.

But, he said, putting Grand County’s 14,843 people in District 57 (the West Slope district) would cause a “ripple effect” in all of western Colorado. Because Garfield County increased in population, he said, Grand County’s population would affect the district boundary in Garfield, affecting Mesa County and beyond.

But Kottcamp doesn’t buy it.

“I can’t figure out why they would do one thing in the Senate and another thing in the House,” he said.

In reapportioning the senate districts, the same committee ultimately left Grand County in a district on the Western Slope, where in the last decade Grand shared a district with Boulder, Summit and Gilpin counties.

“They’re washing away our (House) vote,” Kottcamp said.

A partial Boulder County population of 49,875 may merge with Clear Creek’s 9,088 people, Gilpin’s 5,441 people and Grand’s 14,843 in a newly formed District 13, if the reapportionment commission remains committed to the present proposal.

Such a district might comprise 41.25 percent Democrats, 24.65 percent Republicans and 33.13 percent unaffiliated voters, according to a compilation of party affiliations.

Meanwhile, there is a proposed amendment to put Jackson County’s population of 1,394 back into the Western Slope District 57; that county is presently grouped with Larimer County.

Newberry said there is one slight upside to the current proposal: At least Grand County is not merged with Larimer County.

When it comes to philosophies on water issues, “We have more in common with Boulder County than Larimer County,” the commissioner said. “That’s the only thing.”

Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603


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