Commissioners want Garfield County kept whole in state Senate redistricting
Garfield County commissioners believe they have a better idea in the ongoing effort to redraw Colorado legislative districts when it comes to representing the county’s interests.
Commissioners on Monday ratified a letter sent Friday to the state’s Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, along with an accompanying map that groups Garfield County with Moffat, Rio Blanco, Delta, Gunnison and the northern portion of Mesa County in a proposed new Senate District 5.
“This plan keeps all of the (affected) county boundaries whole, except for Mesa County,” County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said of the proposed map he helped to put together.
Mesa County, with its larger population base to redistribute in the redistricting process, would have to remain split, he said.
As it stands, the latest staff plan released Sept. 23 by the Redistricting Commission breaks up Garfield County between the proposed Senate Districts 5 and 8.
Under that plan all of the county’s towns, including Carbondale where current SD8 Sen. Bob Rankin resides, would move into a redrawn SD5 with Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County, along with Gunnison, Hinsdale and parts of Delta and Montrose counties.
The less-populated portions of Garfield County would be in the new SD8 with the remainder of Eagle County, plus Summit, Clear Creek, Gilpin, Grand, Jackson, Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties, under the latest staff plan. Most of those counties are now in Rankin’s district.
A third and final plan from the nonpartisan staff is due out Tuesday and is to be presented to the Legislative Redistricting Commission on Wednesday. Additional meetings are tentatively slated for later this week, if necessary, and final plans are to be considered Oct. 12, to then be handed over to the Colorado Supreme Court for final approval.
“We believe our proposal … is more equitable and better reflects our communities of interests, economies, just transition, race, environment, family farms, ranching, public lands management and political subdivision,” the Garfield County commissioners wrote in their letter to the Redistricting Commission.
“Proposed Senate District 5 has common interest and economics based on natural resources and agriculture,” it continues.
Under Garfield County’s proposal, SD8 would group Pitkin, Lake, Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek, Grand, Jackson and Routt counties together.
“Proposed Senate District 8 represents the mountain resort communities with common economies and interests based on tourism.”
Part of the thinking with the latest state Senate districts staff plan, which was based on direction from the appointed bipartisan commissioners and public input to date, was to keep the greater Roaring Fork Valley region from Aspen to Parachute whole in one Senate district.
A similar approach has been taken with the proposed Colorado House districts, in which the redrawn HD57 would include Garfield and Pitkin County, and the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County.
State Rep. Perry Will of rural New Castle represents the current HD57, which includes all of Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties.
County commissioners had considered formally weighing in on the latest House district plan, but decided to focus instead on the Senate districts.
“The staff House plan is not the best from our perspective, but it does at least keep Garfield County whole,” Jankovsky said. “From my perspective, that is one of the key premises we are going on.”
The county commissioners have also been critical of past proposals before the separate Congressional Redistricting Commission to redraw the 3rd Congressional District. They are supportive, however, of the plan turned over to the Supreme Court last week that keeps most of the Western Slope in the 3rd District, including all of Garfield County.
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.