Grand County takes stand on redistricting, wants out of CD2 |

Grand County takes stand on redistricting, wants out of CD2

As the state works through redistricting, Grand County’s leaders have said they want the congressional district to be a part of the Western Slope.

Colorado is currently moving through the redistricting process for both the state and congressional districts. The process happens every 10 years, coinciding with the US Census.

This year is unique because of data delays from the pandemic and the state’s new independent redistricting committee. Passed by Colorado voters in 2018, Amendments Y and Z enact two 12-member commissions to redistrict the congressional and state legislative districts.

Additionally, Colorado will likely see a new seat in the United States House based on population growth. However, that growth has been along the Front Range with many rural counties actually losing population in the last 10 years, according to 2019 population estimates.

Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke explained Tuesday that organizers of Club 20, representing 20 counties on the Western Slope, along with organizers from Action 22 and Pro 15, representing the southeast and northeastern parts of the state, are working on a proposal to the Colorado Congressional Redistricting Commission that would keep rural counties together.

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Grand County commissioners reiterated this week that all three of them favor the change, stating that their current congressional district has not been the best representation for county interests. Linke pointed out that when it comes to water issues, the county’s current congressperson is split between Grand, the most water-diverted county in the state, and Front Range water interests.

Grand County sits in Colorado’s 2nd Congressional District, along with Larimer, Summit, Clear Creek, Gilpin and Broom counties. Parts of Boulder, Eagle, Jefferson, Park and Weld counties also sit in the district.

Having a congressperson representing the disparate interests of these areas has been a point of contention for Grand.

CD2 is represented by Congressman Joe Neguse, a Democrat based in Lafayette. In 2020, 50.4% of Grand County voted for the Republican challenger, but Neguse won the district with 60.5% of the vote. Similarly, in 2018, Grand County voters favored the Republican candidate, but Neguse won the district by 60.3%.

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Joe Neguse meet at the Coon Hill trailhead on the west side of the Eisenhower Tunnel in Dillon on Sept. 4, 2020, to discuss the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.
Photo by Liz Copan/Studio Copan

The drafted districts released Tuesday by Club 20, Action 22 and Pro 15 representatives propose putting all Western Slope counties, including Grand, into one congressional district. This would move Grand, Summit and part of Eagle County into the 3rd Congressional District, while shifting the southeastern part of the district, including Pueblo County, into a new district covering the southeastern quarter of the state.

Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District has leaned much more conservative in recent years, currently represented by Republican Lauren Boebert. Before Boebert, Republican Scott Tipton held the district.

Rep. Lauren Boebert, winner of the U.S. House seat for Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks to supporters at a rally outside her restaurant in downtown Rifle on Nov. 2, 2020.

The rural committees proposing this geographic-based districting hope to make a final recommendation by late spring.

Ultimately, the decision lays with the citizen congressional panel made up of four registered Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated commissioners. Districts must be roughly equal in population with an emphasis on preserving “communities of interest.”

There will be public hearings for each current congressional district to give feedback on any changes. With Census data not being released until Sept. 30, the redistricting commissions are currently considering a new timeline to reflect the delays.

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