Eagle County commissioners tackle mandated redistricting task
Commissioner boundaries don’t affect voters, but they do affect candidates
For the people who vote in Eagle County commissioner elections, redistricting doesn’t really matter. For people running for the office, it matters a great deal.
Eagle County’s three commissioners are elected at large, which means all county residents vote in all three races. However, commissioner candidates must reside in the district they are elected to represent, and with redistricting — as required by state law after the U.S. census — the boundaries are about to change.
The current Eagle County Board of Commissioners discussed the redistricting process at a work session this week. A shift in district boundaries will be necessary because of population gains in the western part of the county, Eagle County Clerk and Recorder Regina O’Brien said.
O’Brien said the new census figures show there are 19,494 residents in District 3, which includes the town of Gypsum, areas north of Eagle and the Basalt-El Jebel area. But there are only 16,954 residents in District 1 — the eastern area of Eagle County that includes the towns of Vail, Minturn and Red Cliff. That’s a problem, she said, because state law mandates that the population size of the three districts must be within 5% of each other. There’s another problem, O’Brien said, because the population from District 3 can’t just shift to District 1. District 2 lies between them.
The solution is to tweak the boundaries of all three districts to achieve parity. But that’s not the only goal.
“You want to look at what logically makes sense,” O’Brien said. “We try not to cut apart neighborhoods, but population is what we have to keep in consideration.”
The county’s geographic information system staff, together with a working group that included representatives from various county departments, has developed three redistricting proposals. Their work will be published on the county website for public comment, and when a preferred alternative is selected, the county commissioners will hold a special adoption hearing. The county hopes to conduct that hearing by the year’s end.