Second Congressional map and first legislative map released as redistricting in Colorado marches on
After hearing days of public comments, and reviewing over 100 submitted maps, the Second Staff Plan of Congressional Districts was released late on Sept. 15. The map, quite different than the First Staff Plan, was based on public comments and used maps created by Commissioner Martha Coleman, a geographer with 35 years of experience, as a starting point.
Congressional District 1 is composed entirely of the area within the boundaries of the city and county of Denver. The population of Denver is 715,522. The population of the enclaves of Arapahoe County completely surrounded by Denver add an additional 7,348 for a total population within the boundaries of Denver of 722,870, or 1,156 over the ideal district size of 721,714. Nonpartisan staff moved the additional population from Denver into Congressional District 6.
Congressional District 2 is a mountain district consisting of the following whole counties: Eagle, Grand, Jackson, Routt, and Summit. It includes all of Boulder County except the census-designated place of Coal Creek, and all of Larimer County except for the cities of Loveland and Wellington, the portion of Windsor in Larimer County, and areas around those cities. It also includes portions of Weld County necessary to keep municipalities whole, including Berthoud, Longmont and Erie. The population was equalized between Congressional Districts 2 and 4.
Congressional District 3 is a western and southern district consisting of the following whole counties: Alamosa, Archuleta, Conejos, Costilla, Crowley, Delta, Dolores, Hinsdale, Huerfano, Garfield, Gunnison, La Plata, Las Animas, Mesa, Mineral, Moffat, Montezuma, Montrose, Otero, Ouray, Pitkin, Pueblo, Rio Blanco, Rio Grande, Saguache, San Juan, and San Miguel. The required population is then met by adding a small portion of southwestern Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley. This required a split of the town of El Jebel.
Congressional District 4 is an eastern district consisting of the following whole counties: Baca, Bent, Cheyenne, Elbert, Kiowa, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Phillips, Prowers, Sedgwick, Washington, and Yuma. It then includes most of the population of Douglas County, the eastern portion of El Paso County not in Congressional District 5, the eastern portion of Arapahoe County not in Congressional District 6, and the eastern portion of Adams County not in Congressional District 6 or 8. It then includes much of Weld County not in Congressional District 8. The population is then equalized by taking the portions of Larimer County not in Congressional District 2.
Congressional District 5 is composed of nearly all of El Paso County including all of Colorado Springs. The population of El Paso County is 730,395, or 8,681 over the ideal district size. Nonpartisan staff moved the excess population in the eastern portion of El Paso County to Congressional District 4.
Congressional District 6 consists of western Arapahoe County, including the cities of Sheridan, Littleton and Centennial. It also includes parts of Jefferson County including the Columbine and Ken Caryl areas and a portion of Bow Mar in Jefferson County. It also includes nearly all of the city of Aurora in Adams and Arapahoe counties. The population is equalized along the border with Congressional District 4 in Arapahoe County.
Congressional District 7 is a Front Range District consisting of the whole counties of Chaffee, Clear Creek, Custer, Fremont, Gilpin, Lake, Park, and Teller, plus part of the city and county of Broomfield. It includes nearly all of Jefferson County except for the portion in Congressional District 6. The required population is obtained by adding a portion of Douglas County.
Congressional District 8 consists of the eastern portion of Adams County including the cities of Brighton, Commerce City, Northglenn, and Thornton. It also includes the portions of Arvada and Westminster in Adams County. It then includes Greeley and the cities in southern Weld County, including Firestone, Frederick and Mead. The town of Johnstown is split between Congressional Districts 2 and 8 along the border between Larimer and Weld counties.
The population of each of the districts is within one person of the ideal district size of 721,714 When it was necessary for nonpartisan staff to divide a county to arrive at the required congressional district population, nonpartisan staff attempted to keep communities of interest together, such as keeping the Roaring Fork Valley together when dividing Eagle County and keeping cities together when dividing Larimer County. Of the 64 counties in Colorado only 11 were split, and all of these counties had to be split in order to equalize population across the congressional districts. To the extent possible, nonpartisan staff kept municipalities that include portions in two counties together or split those municipalities at the county border.
Judging the competitiveness of districts, the commission reported, is more difficult. The Second Staff Plan, according to a report by staff, creates three safe Democratic districts, three safe Republican districts and competitive 7th and 8th Congressional Districts. According to the Colorado Sun, the districts, much different from the First Staff Plan, look like this:
The 1st District centered in Denver remains safe for Democratic U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, with 57% Democratic advantage
The 2nd District still includes Boulder and Fort Collins, but stretches west to Routt County and includes Summit and most of Eagle County. It also includes Neguse’s home in Lafayette, and would give Democrats a nearly 34% advantage.
The 3rd District stretches from Moffat County in the northwest, south through Mesa and Pitkin counties to Cortez and La Plata counties, then east to Pueblo and Las Animas County. Unlike a map released earlier this month, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s Silt home remains in the 3rd District, and she’d have a nearly 10% GOP advantage.
The 4th District still includes much of the eastern plains, as well as Windsor and much of Douglas County. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Ken Buck of Windsor would have a nearly 27% advantage.
The 5th District includes most of El Paso, except for some eastern areas that end up in the 4th District. It would remain safe for incumbent U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn with a 20% GOP advantage.
The 6th District includes most of Aurora and Arapahoe County, a safe seat for incumbent Rep. Jason Crow, of Centennial, with a 15% Democratic advantage
The 7th District now includes most of Jefferson County, but also small portions of Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Douglas and El Paso counties as well as all of seven mountain counties. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, of Arvada, would find himself in a potentially competitive district with a 6% Democratic advantage.
The new 8th District includes much of Adams and Weld counties, including Greeley, Thornton, Commerce City and much of Westminster. Democratic state Rep. Yadira Carveo, of Thornton, recently announced plans to run in the district, which has a Democratic advantage of about 4%.
The political competitiveness of the districts is based on an average of election results from eight statewide races between 2016 and 2020. The percentages above represent the difference between the percent of votes cast for a Republican candidate and the percent of votes cast for a Democratic candidate.
In the First Staff Plan for the Legislative Redistricting, the Eastern Plains are almost entirely in Senate District 3. This district consists of whole counties plus the eastern portions of Adams and Arapahoe counties. Pueblo County is entirely contained in Senate District 35 with no other counties. The six counties of the San Luis Valley (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache) are kept together and included in Senate District 7, which extends to southwest Colorado. The Four Corners Area, Western Slope, and mountains are in Senate Districts 5, 6, 7, and 8, along with a portion of Senate District 16, which also extends into Jefferson and Douglas counties. The Roaring Fork Valley is kept together in Senate District 5. The northern I-25 corridor is included in Senate Districts 1, 13, 14, 15, and 17. City and county of Denver and North Metro Denver Senate Districts 32, 33, and 34 are wholly within the city and county of Denver. Senate District 22 contains southwest Denver with a portion of Lakewood (Jefferson County), and Senate District 31 contains some enclaves of Arapahoe County along with southeast Denver. A portion of eastern Adams County is in 2 Senate District 3 with the Eastern Plains, while North Metro Adams County is included in Senate Districts 21, 23, 24, and 25. South Metro Denver and West Metro Denver. A portion of eastern Arapahoe County is in Senate District 3 with the eastern plains, and some Denver enclaves and portions of unincorporated Arapahoe County are in Senate District 31 with Denver. Aurora and southern portions of Arapahoe County are included in Senate Districts 26, 27, 28, and 29. Jefferson County shares Senate District 22 with Denver, Senate District 23 with Broomfield, and Senate District 26 with Arapahoe County. Senate Districts 19 and 20 are wholly in Jefferson County, and Senate District 16 includes portions of Jefferson County with Chaffee, Douglas, Gilpin and Park counties. Douglas County is in Senate Districts 4 and 30, and it shares Senate District 16 with Chaffee, Gilpin, Jefferson and Park counties. Senate Districts 9, 10, 11, and 12 are fully contained in El Paso County. Portions are of El Paso County are also in Senate District 2, along with Elbert, Fremont, and Teller counties.
The state legislature has 35 state senators and 65 state representatives and the First Staff Plan will determine those boundaries under much the same constitutional requirements as those on the congressional side in terms of population, communities of interest, and competitiveness.
Members of the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, supported by non-partisan staff, are: Carlos Perez, U-CD 5, Chair; Kevin Fletcher U-CD 7, Vice-Chair; Hunter Barnett, R-CD 6; Heather Barry, D-CD 7; John Buckley III, R-CD 5; Samuel Greenidge, U-CD 4; Constance Hass, R-CD 4; Gary Horvath, D-CD 2; Aislinn Kottwitz, R-CD 2; Amber McReynolds, U-CD 1; Robin Schepper, D-CD 3; and Blanca Uzeta O’Leary, D-CD 3.
Comments from the eastern plains community included three regional advocacy groups that submitted comments proposing the creation of a congressional map designating two potential rural congressional districts and six potential Front Range congressional districts. The proposal included all of the eastern plains in a single district along with southeastern Colorado, the San Luis Valley and Pueblo. One of the advocacy groups who authored a comment supporting this proposal, Pro 15, represents interests in the northeastern part of Colorado. They listed the communities of interest for this area as industries related to agriculture, business, education, entrepreneurship, health care, oil and gas, renewable energy, transportation, and water needs. The following counties submitted resolutions from their boards of County Commissioners supporting this proposal: Baca, Crowley, Kit Carson, Morgan and Washington.
The commissions received a number of comments concerning southern Colorado and the San Luis Valley. Many of these comments requested that the six counties of the San Luis Valley (Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande, and Saguache counties) be kept together, noting key agricultural, cultural, economic, environmental, geographic, recreational, rural, and water issues that they have in common. Many comments noted the historic ties between the San Luis Valley and Pueblo, dating back to the time when the Arkansas River was the border between the United States and Mexico, and asked to keep these communities together. Many comments further supported putting Pueblo and the San Luis Valley in a district with the eastern plains, but some had other suggestions. One comment identified the watersheds of the Arkansas, San Juan, and Rio Grande River valleys as a community of interest and drew a congressional district encompassing these watersheds and river valleys along the southern edge of the state. Another comment suggested combining a portion of El Paso County, Pueblo, and some south central counties to create a southern Colorado congressional district.
A comment about keeping southwest Colorado together in a single state house district cited geography and economic integration. The comment identified the following counties as being in this potential state house district: Archuleta, Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan. This district would specifically exclude Gunnison, Hinsdale and Ouray counties. The comment highlighted that Gunnison County is separated by mountains, and in a different watershed than Archuleta, La Plata and San Juan Counties. One comment asked to keep the communities of Bayfield, Durango, Ignacio, Mancos, Pagosa Springs and Silverton together. Another related comment noted that the mountain passes, which can be difficult to traverse in the winter, should be considered as dividing lines between districts. Essentially, this comment argued that a representative should be able to travel easily through all parts of a district. Other comments requested keeping an existing state house district of Archuleta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, La Plata, and Ouray counties, stating that they have similar social, environmental, and economic needs, including economies oriented around tourism. These comments suggested that Montezuma County is primarily agricultural in nature and thus contains a community of interest distinct from other southwest Colorado counties.
According to the staff report, while the comments addressed most of the state, no specific comments were received for the following counties: Bent, Cheyenne, Custer, Delta, Hinsdale, Kiowa, Lincoln, Moffat, Phillips, Rio Blanco, and Sedgwick.
The Alamosa board of County Commissioners submitted a comment requesting that a state senate district combine the counties of the San Luis Valley with portions of Pueblo County and all of the Arkansas River Valley (Baca, Bent, Crowley, Custer, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, and Prowers counties). This comment stated that agriculture is the main economic driver in both the San Luis Valley and southeastern Colorado, and noted that the areas have similar water compacts and similarly declining populations.
Some comments the commissions received regarding Elbert County suggested the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission place Elbert County in the same congressional district as either Denver or Colorado Springs, rather than eastern plains counties. One comment suggested the commission place northwest Elbert County in a more urban legislative district because many residents in northwest Elbert County work in the Denver metro area and utilize services, such as retail and medical services, from the metro area. Another comment suggested the commissions combine Arapahoe, Douglas and Elbert counties, possibly with a portion of Colorado Springs, into a single congressional district because of economic and educational factors. One comment described wind energy generation on the commenter’s family’s farmland in Elbert County, noting that wind energy generation is linked to the companies that produce the turbines and those that transmit it to consumers. This comment noted that the commenter’s wind farm is part of a wind energy project that includes turbines in Arapahoe, Cheyenne, Elbert, Kit Carson, and Lincoln counties.
A few comments responded that the commission should place Larimer and Boulder counties should in separate congressional districts. One said that Larimer County maintains a more agricultural economy. One comment suggested that a region of shared interests for Larimer County would extend north to the Wyoming border, south to Interstate 70, west to the Continental Divide, and east to Interstate 76. Some comments suggested the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission place Larimer County with Weld County in the same congressional district due to agricultural, economic, energy and transportation issues. Other comments were very adamant about the commission not placing Larimer County in the same congressional district as Weld County, stating that they have very different economic concerns. One comment from Loveland asked that the commission keep Loveland distinct from Weld County due to differing approaches to oil and gas development. Comments were received that Berthoud, which is in both Larimer and Weld counties, is no longer rural in nature and the commission should include Berthoud in a more urban legislative district.
One comment noted the large Latino population in Las Animas and Otero counties as a reason for the commissions to place these counties in a district with Pueblo County and the San Luis Valley counties. Comments regarding Logan County discussed grouping it with counties with similar interests, specifically agriculture and energy production.
The Otero County board of Commissioners submitted a resolution supporting a proposal for two rural districts, one on the Western Slope, and one with the eastern plains and southern Colorado.
One comment from Prowers County discussed wind energy creation on the eastern plains. It also described a wind power transmission line from Brush to Douglas County as a reason for the commissions to keep the eastern plains together with Douglas County. The commissions received many comments asking that Pueblo County be kept in a single congressional district and arguing that Pueblo County has more in common with the San Luis Valley than the Western Slope. Several commenters, including major advocacy groups for the region, thought the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission should group Pueblo in a congressional district with the eastern plains, but other comments expressed a preference for the commission to keep Pueblo in a congressional district with the rural communities of the Western Slope. Some comments in the latter group cited the presence of the Colorado State Fair in Pueblo as evidence of a shared interest in agriculture with the Western Slope. One comment asked that the commissions place Pueblo in the same legislative districts as the rest of the Arkansas River Valley.
The commission received a number of comments from Weld County. Most of the comments distinguished the rural eastern part of the county and the more urban areas of Greeley and the Interstate 25 corridor. Some, however, argued that it was important for the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission to keep Weld County whole in a congressional district. Regarding Greeley, many comments noted that the city of Greeley is less like the rest of rural Weld County and that the commissions should consider Greeley as an urban center.
One comment said that rural areas, such as Yuma County, need full representation since this area’s economy is driven by agriculture production and energy.
There are a number of public comment sessions scheduled for the Legislative Redistricting Commission. While there are no additional congressional public hearings scheduled, comments may be submitted online.
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