Opinion | Kim McGahey: Summit County belongs in the 3rd Congressional District
Conservative Common Sense
In 2018, Colorado voters passed a law to curb the antidemocratic practice of gerrymandering by denying incumbent legislators the ability to draw their own district lines. That power now resides with the nonpartisan Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission. The law requires the commission to consider various factors in drawing U.S. congressional and state legislative district lines, including that communities of interest and political competitiveness be preserved. This commission will make gerrymandering difficult and will allow voters to pick their representatives rather than politicians picking their voters.
In 1812, Elbridge Gerry, a founding father of our country, was governor of Massachusetts and in control of the legislature. To gain more seats for his party, he created an oddly shaped district that opponents said resembled a salamander. Thus, “gerrymandering” began. Ever since, politicians across the country have practiced the art of gerrymandering.
The current configuration of Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District is a classic example of a gerrymandered district with rural Summit County on the Western Slope barely attached to the much bigger and more urban populated Boulder County on the Front Range. This has created misrepresentation of Summit County’s vital interests over the past 10 years while Boulder County has profited from our coerced participation in their Front Range interests.
Summit County’s power-hungry, liberal politicos spoke at the Independent Redistricting Commission public hearing July 31 at the Summit County Community and Senior Center, attempting to convince the commission that Summit County has strong ties to Boulder County and should remain in the 2nd Congressional District. Their false assertions of that necessary connection between Boulder and Summit fell mostly on deaf ears as the commissioners saw the shallow political move on the part of local Democratic elected officials to stay in the 2nd Congressional District for the sole purpose of retaining Democrat Rep. Joe Neguse.
The local liberal Democrats claimed at the public hearing that voters of our rural, agricultural, tourist-driven Summit County have a greater community of interest with the upper-class urban professionals in densely populated Boulder County than with the other Western Slope counties. I doubt that.
The only thing we have in common with Boulder County is the money its residents spend here, and that is no reason to be in the same congressional district with them. Summit County shares an economic, geographic and cultural community of interest with the Western Slope, and that’s where our representation in the U.S. Congress and the Colorado Legislature should be. Neguse will always vote for the interests of liberal Boulder County and ignore Summit County if we remain in the 2nd Congressional District.
The commission staff has drawn reasonable redistricting maps that place Summit County in the 3rd Congressional District, where we belong with other Western Slope counties. If approved, these new maps will secure Summit County’s best interests in transportation, water, energy, recreation and tourism.
This is crucial for Summit County’s future. We need to assert our desire to maintain proper control by “we the people” of Summit County.
You can comment on the Independent Redistricting Commission’s plan at Redistricting.colorado.gov/public_comments/new. Encourage the commission to put Summit County in the 3rd Congressional District with the Western Slope where it belongs.
Kim McGahey’s column “Conservative Common Sense” publishes biweekly on Tuesdays in the Summit Daily News. McGahey is a real estate broker, tea party activist and former Republican candidate. He has lived in Breckenridge since 1978. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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