Redistricting Commission Holds Public Hearing

An Update on the Western Slope July 30, 2021 public hearing.

By Delta County GOP Chairman Dave Bradford

I have written several times now about the Colorado Redistricting Process – on July 14 and July 18. As I have said before this is the most pressing local political issue for Delta County voters. So I have an update to give.


Last Friday, July 30, 2021 the two Redistricting Commissions held two hearings in our area. These were Joint Commission hearings with the commissioners from the Congressional Commission and the Legislative Commission in attendance. Commissioners attended either in person or remotely through a Zoom Meeting type application. The first hearing was in Montrose at the Ute Indian Museum at 11:00 am and the second was in Grand Junction at the Meyer Ballroom in the University Center on the Colorado Mesa University campus at 7:00 p.m. I attended the session in Grand Junction.


It was worth attending, or you could listen through the Redistricting website – https://redistricting.colorado.gov . The opportunity to see how the hearings were conducted, the presentations made by all the speakers and the questions asked by the Commissioners made it very worthwhile. There were 9 Commissioners present and a comparable number participating virtually. I didn’t get a complete count but it seemed a number of the 24 Commissioners were not present. There were fifty or so citizens in attendance and twenty were signed up to speak. Speakers were given three minutes to make their presentation, and then the Commissioners were given an opportunity to ask questions. I had signed up ahead of time and ended up being the second speaker.




The following are the comments I had written up to make to the Commissioners. Obviously, I did not read all the comments because there are more than three minutes worth.


“Commissioners, I appreciate the efforts you all have made to produce these maps. I am commenting on both the Congressional Redistricting Map and the Legislative Redistricting Maps. My comments are as follows:


1) Congressional Redistricting Map – My area of concern lies with CD3. I believe this is a fair and balanced configuration. Removing the area around Pueblo and the San Luis Valley and placing it in CD4 and adding Eagle, Summit, Grand, Park, Teller and Fremont counties, as well as some of western Boulder County seems like a fair and balanced adjustment. While overly large in land area, the composition of counties seems to be similar enough in interests to meet the community of interest test. Please keep this configuration as currently drawn.


2) Legislative Senate District Map – My primary area of concern is Delta County. The current configuration splits Delta County in half, with the west half of the county being placed in SD 7 (comprised of western Delta County, Montrose County, Ouray County, San Miguel County, Dolores County, San Juan County, Montezuma County and La Plata County). This extremely large district includes all or parts of 3 separate mountain ranges, i.e. San Juans, Uncompahgre Plateau and part of the Grand Mesa. It also has 4 major drainages, flowing in opposite directions – the La Plata flowing to the south, the Dolores, the Uncompahgre and the Gunnison all flowing to the north. Since rivers are the lifeblood of the West, these different drainages have different uses and concerns. Splitting Delta County and putting it in SD7 injures Delta County by splitting its voice between two Senate Districts. This will require citizens, leaders and businesses to communicate with two different state senators and reducing the effectiveness of their voices. The second Senate District is SD 6, which includes the eastern half of Delta County and Mesa County. While Delta County has much more in common with Mesa County than the other 7 counties in SD 7, Delta County is injured by requiring citizens, leaders and businesses to communicate with two different state senators and reducing the effectiveness of their voices. I strongly request that you keep Delta County whole and place it in SD6 with Mesa County. This is a more natural configuration keeping the district with all its natural resources in the Colorado River/Gunnison River/Uncompahgre River watershed, with one National Forest (Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest). This will best serve the citizens of Delta County and also well serve the citizens of Mesa County.


3) Legislative House District Map – Again my primary concern is Delta County.

This configuration places the northern part of Delta County in HD 55, which includes Mesa County, except for Grand Junction, and includes a small part of Garfield County around Silt and Newcastle. The southern part of Delta County is included with Montrose County, San Miguel County, Ouray County, Hinsdale County, Dolores County, San Juan County, and part of Montezuma County. This is probably the worst configuration. All of Delta County should be placed with Mesa County. It shares the same watershed and most of the Grand Mesa. As described above, splitting Delta County reduces its voice and places undue hardship on the citizens, businesses and governing officials of our county. In fact this configuration splits our county between two districts where the people of Paonia are in HD 55 and the people of Hotchkiss are in HD 53. The Paonia High School was just combined with Hotchkiss High School to form the North Fork High School located in Hotchkiss. So now the parents of the Paonia-area students are in one House District (55) and the parents of Hotchkiss-area students are in another House District (53). This should not and does not need to happen. Place all of Delta County in HD 55 with Mesa County; place all of Garfield County in HD 57. Don’t force county residents to have to deal with two different representatives.


I realize that you are following the principle of one citizen, one vote. However, because so much of Colorado’s population is now residing along the Front Range, this has created an increasing disparity between the rural parts of the state and the urban areas. In the Congressional Districts, six of the eight districts represent the urban areas (which consist of less than 20% of the state’s land mass). The remaining two districts, CD3 & CD4, represent the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains or 80% of the states’ land mass. This fosters the urban/rural divide. This issue is also occurring with the State Legislature’s and it is much worse at the state level. In the state Senate of the 35 Senate seats only eight or 22% (SDs 1,5,6,7,8,10, 34 & 35), represent the rural parts of the state. However these eight districts account for over 80% of the state’s land mass. In the state House, it is even worse. Of the 65 House Seats, only 12 (HDs 34,35,40,41,51,52, 53, 54,55,57,58 and 65) represent the rural areas. These 12 seats represent 18% of the House seats but they cover over 80% of the state’s landmass. This disparity has gotten much worse over time. Look at the districts in 1960. Another issue is when the Western Slope counties are split or blended with Front Range counties, it dilutes our voices. Delta County becomes a small part of a district that has either one large county (Current proposed HD55) or a small part of a district with numerous other counties (Current proposed HD53). At times it even puts the representative in a position where the interests of one county are in conflict with the interests of another county. Such as trans-basin or trans-mountain water diversions. Please, keep Western Slope counties whole and base their boundaries on the natural landscapes. Thank you.”


My comments seem to be well received. The Commissioners only asked me one question – “What were the House and Senate Districts that represent 80% of the land area of Colorado.” Most of the presentations made mirrored the comments I made, to a more or less degree. I believe being the second speaker helped set a tone for Delta County. I was the only speaker from Delta County, the rest were from Mesa County. The Commissioners did not seem to ask a lot of questions until the later half of the presentations. I don’t know if this is because they were getting a sense of what the concerns were or they felt the evening was not going to drag on until midnight. The audience was very respectful; there were no outbursts or angry presentations. We finished a bit after 9 p.m.


I’ll repeat my plea from my last Blog - Please consider making a comment to the Redistricting Commissions. If we can get CD3 locked into the current configuration, and Delta County kept in one district and included with Mesa County for both the Senate and House seats, we will be better represented in the State Legislature for the next ten years. The last 10 years have been terrible for Delta County as Kerry Donovan and Julie McCluskie (and Millie Hamner before her) have done nothing positive for Delta County residents and helped pass numerous harmful pieces of legislation. The website, https://redistricting.colorado.gov, has a portal for making comments. It also has more information about the process. Please let the Commissions know we need to be kept whole and with Mesa County. The Commissions are accepting comments until the last hearing, which is scheduled for August 28, 2021.


This is your chance to help make a difference!


UPCOMING EVENTS


Tuesday, August 3rd, 2021

Monthly Central Committee Meeting Announcement

at Surface Creek Church in Austin (21987 Austin Road, near Hwy 92)

at 6:00 pm. We will be hosting Colorado gubernatorial candidate Jon Gray-Ginsberg to share with us his vision for Colorado and why he is running for the Governorship. Here is his website for your review. Jon Gray-Ginsberg


His appearance is part of Delta County Republicans efforts to meet the various candidates running for Governor. So far, we have had Greg Lopez and Danielle Neuschwanger. Both appearances were very informative and gave our members a good chance to meet these candidates and see what they are all about. We are hosting Mr. Gray-Ginsberg for the same reason. We have invited the other candidates as well but so far we've received no other responses. His appearance at the DCRCC meeting is intended to give our community an opportunity to form their opinions about all the 2022 candidates.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Greg Lopez

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate

Daveto's Italian Restaurant, 520 Main Street, Delta.

It's never too early to meet the candidates running for office. Join us for lunch and a speaker presentation. 11:30-1:00 PM. RSVPs to Ginni 970-275-9537. Early Bird tickets $20, at the door $25. RSVP deadline August 11 at 5pm.

Note: This event is a DCGOP fundraiser. It is not a fundraiser for Mr. Lopez.

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