Latest state Senate proposal pushes Grand County into District 8
June 23, 2011
A preliminary state Senate District map for the western slope region adopted this week by a 11-member reapportionment commission would move Grand County from its current spot in District 16 to District 8 with Summit, Garfield and other northwestern counties.
The commission, a bipartisan panel charged with redrawing district lines based on new census information, unanimously approved the map earlier this week, though it will also be vetted by the public and the Colorado Supreme Court before a final version is accepted later this year.
Jeanne Nicholson, a Democrat from Blackhawk, currently represents Summit, Gilpin, Clear Creek, Grand and parts of Boulder and Jefferson counties, in the state Senate. Jean White, a Republican from Hayden, holds the seat for District 8.
Commission members said the proposed map was developed based on logistics and legal criteria.
“Most of the reason that change was made was just due to the population shift within the western part of the state,” said former state Rep. Gayle Berry (R-Grand Junction), who sits on the commission.
A final map must lay out Senate districts of approximately 143,000 people that are contiguous and keep cities and counties whole wherever possible. Commissioners are also encouraged to consider communities of interest and to form districts that are politically competitive.
“This was the map that met the criteria,” Democratic commission member and state Rep. Matt Jones said. “Eagle and Summit needed to be split. You couldn’t add in Summit or Eagle without going over the total in adjacent districts.”
Though the proposed map moving Grand and Summit to District 8 would isolate the counties from fellow tourism economies in Pitkin and Eagle, it would join the county with other western slope communities connected on water and environmental issues.
The reapportionment commission began meeting in Denver in May and in August will travel the state to solicit public feedback on the proposed districts. Final maps must be submitted to the State Supreme Court for review by Oct. 7.
The commission is made up of appointees of varying backgrounds and political affiliations selected by Colorado’s three branches of government.
Berry, former Denver Mayor and Democrat Wellington Webb and Arnold Salazar, an Alamosa Democrat and executive director of Colorado Health Partnerships were appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.
The Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court appointed Denver lawyer and Democrat Dolores Atencio, Mario Carrera, an independent communications executive from Parker, Colorado College political science professor Robert Loevy, a Republican and former state Rep. Steve Tool, also a Republican to the commission.
State Sen. Morgan Carroll, an Aurora Democrat, Rep. Matt Jones, a Democrat from Louisville, Mario Nicolais, an attorney and GOPer from Lakewood and former Rep. Rob Witwer were all designated to the commission by current state Senate and House leadership.