Independent redistricting commissions are currently working to redraw Colorado’s political lines. The process is the state’s first “independent” attempt at the exercise without the lead of the state’s dominant political party — a reform passed by 70 percent of voters in the 2018 election.

For this reason, September marks a pivotal month for Colorado’s political future. The Herald looks forward to following along as the democratic experiment unfolds.

The state’s redistricting process is now led by 12-member congressional and legislative redistricting commissions. The commissions, which each include four Democratic, four Republican and four unaffiliated members picked from thousands of applicants, hold the task of rebalancing Colorado’s districts to account for population growth while trying to keep communities of interest together. Such groups could include towns and counties or racial and ethnic communities spread across the state.

After holding more than 30 public hearings across the state this summer, the Colorado Independent Congressional Commission (CICC) released its first draft of a new congressional map on Friday. The map was informed by public input and data from the 2020 census, the decennial count that resulted in Colorado gaining an eighth congressional seat due to its booming population growth.

The map, which is the first of three to be drawn by the commission, looks quite different than Colorado’s current congressional map.

For one, Colorado is divided by eight, not seven, congressional districts. The new eighth district would include much of Adams and Weld counties, as well as a sliver of north Denver.

Another notable change is the fragmentation of the third congressional district, a district that has historically encompassed Lake County, all of the Western Slope and Pueblo.

Under the new map, the third district would shrink geographically to cover just western and southern Colorado, including Grand Junction and the San Luis Valley. Northern areas of the third district would move to the second congressional district, meaning conservative counties like Garfield and Moffat would be grouped with liberal counties like Boulder and Summit. Lake County would also bid farewell to the third district, joining other Arkansas Valley counties and the southwest suburbs of Denver to make up the seventh congressional district.

If the map at hand is approved  Representative Lauren Boebert, a Republican who currently serves the third district from her home in Garfield County, would be moved to district two. This change could potentially lead Boebert to race against district two’s current incumbent, Democrat Joe Neguse, in 2022.

CICC is leading a slew of public hearings this week to garner feedback on the map. Leadvillians are invited to join the commission’s public meeting for the third district via Zoom from 1-4 p.m. on Thursday. Locals may also leave written comments online at www.redistricting.colorado.gov.

CICC plans to submit a final congressional map to the Colorado Supreme Court by Sept. 28 for approval. Stay tuned for the legislative redistricting maps which are set to be released next week.

Rachel Woolworth

Herald Editor

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