Latest legislative district maps group Summit County into current state Senate and House districts
Summit County is no longer split in the House map, much to the relief of many community leaders
The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released a new set of state legislative district maps Thursday, Sept. 23, thus tweaking where Summit County falls. For the most part, community leaders are satisfied with the changes.
Take, for example, the state House district map. The first drawing originally split the county into two districts along Interstate 70. The north side of the county was lumped into House District 26 while the south side was grouped in with House District 46.
Summit County Commissioner Josh Blanchard was not in favor of the previous map, mostly because he felt like it would make it more difficult to advocate to state representatives.
“Our community geographically is relatively small,” Blanchard said. “You may have someone living in one town, working in another with a mailing address in another town, so it becomes a little complicated when you’re trying to advocate for specific issues when someone may actually have interests in what could be two districts.”
Blanchard, who lives in Silverthorne, said it also would have been tricky as an elected official to adhere to all interests of the community, whether locally or through the state. Blanchard would have been lumped into House District 26, whereas the rest of the community that he represents might have been in House District 46.
The second House district map no longer divides the county and instead groups it into House District 61, which is currently represented by Rep. Julie McCluskie, a Dillon Democrat. In the latest map, Summit is grouped with Lake, Park, Chaffee and Grand counties. Summit County Republicans Secretary Kim McGahey said he thinks this is much more beneficial for the county.
“I think all of Summit County should be in one district,” McGahey said. “We’re homogenous enough that we don’t have separate interests. Even though the northern part of the county is ranch and the southern part of the county is ski, they’re still intertwined because the economy works so closely together.”
Blanchard also said he favored the latest map much more than if the county were split. He pointed out that the majority of the county’s workforce lives near or outside county lines — in areas like Alma, Fairplay, Leadville and Kremmling — and that grouping communities of interest together is ideal.
“As it relates to the interests of our workforce, I think that makes a lot of sense,” Blanchard said. “We’re also experiencing a lot of the same housing challenges in these communities. We know when it comes to social infrastructure and social support, a lot of the foundations support the work that is taking place in these communities. … I think we’ve demonstrated that there are shared interests within these congruent five counties. I think the way it’s proposed now — (House) District 61 — makes a lot of sense.”
Blanchard had the same thoughts for the latest state Senate district map, too. In the first drawing, Summit County was grouped into Senate District 5 with counties like Lake, Pitkin, Eagle and some of Garfield. In the second drawing, the county is looped in Senate District 8, along with Clear Creek, Eagle, Grand, Garfield, Routt, Jackson and more.
Blanchard said he liked this plan, too, and that it kept Summit County with the rest of the I-70 corridor and with the majority of other ski resorts, most of which relate to the same issues, such as transportation and housing.
Silverthorne Town Manager Ryan Hyland said he supported the latest map mostly due to the fact that a good portion of I-70 was kept together. In addition to serving as Silverthorne’s town manager, he also serves as the chair of the I-70 coalition. In the latest map, Senate District 8 encompasses Clear Creek, Summit and Eagle counties, all of which have the interstate running through them.
“When you’re looking at the I-70 mountain corridor, transportation, economics, outdoor recreation, commerce, tourism … those are all huge issues that are really lined up,” Hyland said. “From that perspective, I think both maps maintain communities of interest.”
McGahey said he’d like the county to be kept with counties in the Western Slope as much as possible during redistricting for the state Senate and House as well as U.S. House of Representatives.
“I think for all of the redistricting … Summit County should be included in the Western Slope in all three of those redistricting maps because Summit County has nothing in common with Boulder County and Jefferson County other than the money those people spend here,” McGahey said. “We have more in common with the Western Slope when it comes to recreation, tourism, economy, transportation, agriculture and just general lifestyle. We have very little in common with the Front Range.”
Neither the state Senate nor House district maps group Summit in with Boulder or Jefferson counties, but the third iteration of the congressional redistricting map does. In the latest map, Summit County is in the 2nd Congressional District, along with counties like Boulder, Grand and Clear Creek.
Sen. Bob Rankin, a Carbondale Republican who represents Senate District 8, and McCluskie didn’t have much to say about the new maps.
“Coloradans voted for a redistricting process to be led by an independent commission,” McCluskie wrote in an email, adding that she’s “pleased with the opportunities people have had to weigh in and the high levels of community engagement.”
Rankin wrote in an email that he respects the process.
The congressional redistricting commission will continue to collect feedback on the proposal. A final draft has to be completed by Oct. 1. The Colorado Supreme Court must approve the plans by Dec. 15 for congressional redistricting and Dec. 29 for legislative redistricting.
Community members can still submit public comment at Redistricting.Colorado.gov, as well.
The 2022 elections for the U.S. House of Representatives and Colorado General Assembly will be held in the newly drawn districts.
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