Redistricting commissions schedule public hearings

Gatherings are chance to comment on proposed congressional and statehouse districts

Thy Vo and Sandra Fish
The Colorado Sun
Posted 7/13/21

Coloradans have a chance to have their voices heard on proposals for redrawn congressional and legislative districts at a total of 32 meetings around the state through the end of August. The …

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Redistricting commissions schedule public hearings

Gatherings are chance to comment on proposed congressional and statehouse districts

Posted

Coloradans have a chance to have their voices heard on proposals for redrawn congressional and legislative districts at a total of 32 meetings around the state through the end of August.

The gatherings are the public’s opportunity to address both the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission and Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, which will convene jointly at each meeting.

The Colorado Sun examined the initial congressional and legislative maps offered by nonpartisan legislative staff and comments submitted online by the public — most of which came before the preliminary maps were issued — from different corners of the state to get an idea of what concerns the commissioners might hear.

More attention — and public comments — have been directed toward remapping the congressional districts as Colorado is slated to get a new, eighth seat in the U.S. House. But the impact on state Senate and House seats could also be big, with control of the state Legislature — currently dominated by Democrats — at stake.

The commission will hold hearings in the Denver metro area on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and in other parts of the state on Fridays and Saturdays.

Most of the members of each 12-member commission will attend the hearings in person, though some will attend virtually. Typically, meetings will be chaired by a commission member from the congressional district in which they are held.

The venue for some meetings, especially those scheduled for August, aren’t yet finalized. View the redistricting commissions’ official calendar at redistricting.colorado.gov for the most up-to-date information.

Half of the state’s eight congressional districts would encompass all or part of the Denver metro area under the proposal from nonpartisan staff. And a significant number of state House and Senate districts are also in the area.

Ten of the commissions’ public hearings will be held in Denver metro communities, all on Tuesday or Wednesday evenings through Aug. 24.

More than 100 commenters from Lakewood already have chimed in, with most asking that Lakewood, which is in Jefferson County, be kept separate from Douglas County. The two are drawn together in the proposed 7th Congressional District.

Meanwhile, the proposed map places the new 8th Congressional District in the area northwest and north of Denver, including the cities of Arvada, Westminster, Broomfield, Thornton, Brighton and Platteville. The map resembles one recommended by the Colorado Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, though it doesn’t stretch as far into Weld County as that group suggested.

Legislative districts are likely to be a focus of the hearings, too. Three proposed metro-area Senate districts and five House districts would place incumbents in the same district.

Public comments sent to the commissioners asked them to consider:

• Black, Hispanic and minority communities, whose populations have shifted from central Denver to Aurora, Commerce City and other suburban Denver areas.

• The impact of affordable housing and the interests of renters.

• Oddly-drawn district lines in the proposed legislative maps, including splitting the dorms of the University of Denver between two state House districts.

The Interstate 25 corridor north from Denver saw some of the state’s most explosive growth between 2010 and 2020, as subdivisions popped up on former agricultural land. That’s part of the reason the new 8th Congressional District was drawn in this area.

The first draft also would shrink the 2nd Congressional District, still including the college towns of Boulder and Fort Collins, but no longer reaching across the Continental Divide into Eagle County.

The 4th District would include the northern and eastern parts of Weld County under the proposal, before stretching out to the Eastern Plains and south.

Residents of western Boulder County are upset at potentially being moved into the 3rd Congressional District under the proposed map. The 3rd District has been a Republican stronghold and it’s currently represented by U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert. Some 20 people submitted nearly identical comments to the commission objecting to the proposed change, which includes placing all of Summit and Eagle counties in the 3rd District.

Other comments received by the commissions thus far include:

• Concerns about Longmont’s grouping with Weld, Douglas and Eastern Plains counties in the current congressional map, rather than with Boulder.

• Urging a congressional district be drawn along the northern I-25 corridor, including to keep Larimer and Weld counties together and separate from the Eastern Plains. Others, however, want to keep Larimer and Weld separate from each other.

• How rapid population growth and development in Greeley has given it more in common with metro Denver than with Fort Morgan, Sterling and Yuma.

• How a significant Hispanic population in Greeley could be grouped with those in Longmont, Brighton and Commerce City.

This story is from The Colorado Sun, a journalist-owned news outlet based in Denver and covering the state. For more, and to support The Colorado Sun, visit coloradosun.com. The Colorado Sun is a partner in the Colorado News Conservancy, owner of Colorado Community Media.

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