District maps recommend new legislative landscape in the mountains | SummitDaily.com

District maps recommend new legislative landscape in the mountains

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
The proposed new House district map (top) essentially add Grand County and delete Lake from Rep. Millie Hamner's district while the re-drawn Senate map shifts Summit from Jeanne Nicholson's District 16 to Jean White's District 8.

A state reapportionment commission adopted new state legislative district maps Monday, moving Summit County into the rural northwestern Senate District 8 and reforming House District 56, a longtime Democratic stronghold, making it more competitive for Republicans.

Under the preliminary maps, Summit County would be moved from Senate District 16 – a seat held by Jeanne Nicholson (D-Blackhawk) – to SD 8, currently represented by Jean White, a Republican who’s alsot he wife of Colorado Tourism Office director Al White.

The new district lines also restructure the historically Democratic HD 56, represented by Millie Hamner (D-Dillon) adding Grand and removing Lake to form the new HD 63, expected to be a political toss-up.

If the maps are accepted, Hamner will contend for the more competitive HD63 seat in 2012.

“When I entered this new work as a state representative, I always assumed the race was going to be competitive and challenging for me,” Hamner said. “I expected it all along to be competitive no matter what the boundaries will be. I know I’m going to have to work hard and now – maybe just a little harder.”

Hamner was appointed to HD56 in November after elected Democrat Christine Scanlan was tapped by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration.

Hamner said she’d begin reaching out to Grand County residents to learn how to “best represent them.”

Some Summit Republicans were supportive of the maps adopted Monday.

“I think these new districts will be competitive and will be more in line with our natural interests, both culturally and recreationally,” said Steve Immer, a former candidate for the Summit Board of County Commissioners and long-time local. “I think the new districts are fair.”

The maps, revised from those presented to the public at a recent meeting in Frisco, take into account Grand County residents’ repeated requests not to be grouped with Boulder County in a house district, a move they worried would drown out voices from the more rural county.

Members of the reapportionment commission, an 11-person bipartisan panel charged with redrawing districts to bring them in line with the most recent census data, laud the adopted district maps, saying they would “keep both sides from over-reaching.”

Of Colorado’s 100 districts, the new maps designate 33 as “competitive,” meaning the difference in party voting within the district is within 10 percent.

Of the new competitive districts, 11 are in the state Senate, 22 are in the House and one is the newly formed HD 63.

Currently, the Democrats control the Senate with a 20-15 majority, and the Republicans hold the House with a 33-32 majority.

The redistricting (Congressional) and reapportionment (state legislative) processes take place every 10 years following the census. The reapportionment process tasks a bipartisan panel of 11 appointed members with redrawing state legislative district lines to ensure they are equal based on the new census counts. The panel is also asked to keep cities and counties whole and to ensure districts are competitive whenever possible.

The sitting reapportionment commission, headed by Mario Carrera, a Spanish-TV executive and the lone unaffiliated vote on the panel, approved the maps by bipartisan majority votes, though a few Republicans dissented on each map.

“The House map approved by the reapportionment commission today falls short of the bar of being a fair map for all Coloradans,” McNulty said in a statement. “It is, however, better than the partisan map adopted by Democrats 10 years ago.”

The district maps approved Monday will still be vetted by the Colorado Supreme Court, which may approve the plans by Dec. 14.

It is still unclear exactly what the new districts might mean for Summit County long term. The county will continue to be represented by Nicholson in the state Senate through the end of her term, another three years.

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.

Corrects earlier version with info on the counties in HD63.

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