Eagle County changes legislative districts
House district expands, Senate district now 10 counties
One thing is sure about Eagle County’s proposed new state legislative districts: representatives will do a lot of driving.
The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions recently released those groups’ final maps for the Colorado House of Representatives and Colorado Senate. Those maps now go to the Colorado Supreme Court, which must approve final maps by Nov. 15.
In the state House, Eagle County for the past decade has been in House District 26, which was all of Eagle and Routt counties.
The new district 26 joins most of Eagle County with Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties. The portion of Eagle County in the Roaring Fork Valley is now in a district that contains all of Pitkin and Garfield counties.
The Senate map puts Eagle County into Senate District 8. That 10-county district encompasses essentially the northwestern quarter of the state, along with Clear Creek and Gilpin counties, which hold Idaho Springs and the gambling towns of Blackhawk and Central City.
A ‘more competitive’ district
Dylan Roberts, an Avon Democrat, is the current representative for House District 26. He plans to run in 2022 for the Senate District 8 seat.
Roberts said the new map makes House District 26 “significantly” more competitive between Democrats and Republicans. Roberts noted that Eagle and Routt counties have been trending more toward Democrats over the past few years. The new district still trends Democratic, but only slightly, given the Republican voting patterns in Moffat and Rio Blanco counties.
Whoever wins the District 26 seat in 2022 will have to “appeal to all political parties,” Roberts said.
The next representative will “need to recognize there (will) be differences between communities,” Roberts noted. That means the new representative will have to keep that in mind when writing or voting on legislation.
Roberts added that communities such as Craig, in Moffat County, “are communities in transition.” Coal mining, which once dominated the Moffat County economy, is in decline, but that presents “an opportunity to diversify the economy,” Roberts said.
The new Senate district will be even more diverse, with economies in the district depending on mountain resorts, gambling, agriculture and mining.
Whoever the new Senator is for that district will have to both work with other Western Slope legislators in an Eastern Slope-dominated legislature, and recognize and work for issues that all 10 district counties have in common, Roberts said. That includes workforce housing, transportation and water.
Eagle County Democrat Kerry Donovan currently represents Colorado Senate District 5. That district is also a big one, and includes Chaffee, Delta, Eagle, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Lake and Pitkin counties.
Donovan is in her second and final term representing that district.
Donovan said the new Senate District 8 keeps Eagle County in a district with mountain counties. That will be good, she said.
District needs a ‘true voice’
Donovan now represents a socially and economically diverse district. She acknowledged that’s a challenge. “But it’s where I find the most satisfaction, being a true voice for Vail and Delta.”
The next Senator from the newly-drawn district will have to advocate for economic diversity in Craig as well as lobbying for improvements along the Interstate 70 mountain corridor.
The new District 8 also looks like it’s more politically balanced between Democrats and Republicans.
Eagle County Republican Party Chairwoman Kaye Ferry had been disappointed in past draft maps from the redistricting commission. With the early drafts, “there’s no chance” a Republican would have a decent chance of winning a seat, particularly in a House race.
The map sent to the state’s high court “seems better” than those first drafts, she said.
• Colorado voters in 2018 passed Amendments Y and Z, establishing independent commissions for congressional and legislative redistricting.
• Redistricting occurs after every decennial census.
• The commissions are made up of 12 members, with four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters on each.
• Redistricting maps must be approved by at least eight commissioners, including two unaffiliated members. The Colorado Supreme Court has final approval of the new district maps.