Collbran, Mesa belong in same House district

The task of drawing state legislative district boundaries so that each district has roughly the same number of people is geographically sensible and politically acceptable has never been an easy one.

This year, as a statewide commission takes its first stab at drawing those boundaries in western Colorado, it faces formidable difficulties in cutting the geographical area of several districts because their populations have grown too large in the past decade.

Even so, we agree with state Rep. Laura Bradford: It makes no sense to divide House District 55 — which Bradford represents — along the lines currently proposed by the redistricting commission and place the communities of Collbran and Mesa in two separate House districts.

If that plan were enacted, Bradford would have to drive through parts of Rep. Ray Scott’s House District 54 to get from one end of her district to the other, and he through hers.

More importantly, two rural Mesa County communities that have many things in common — from youngsters who attend the same school to reliance on agriculture and Grand Mesa recreation for economic survival — would be separated and served by two different state representatives.

That’s illogical. It makes far more sense, as Bradford suggested, to simply move the boundary between House District 54 and House District 55 in the city of Grand Junction to adjust the populations as needed. Grand Junction has long been split between the two House districts, and changing the boundary there wouldn’t be nearly as traumatic as placing Collbran and Mesa in separate legislative districts.

We recognize that these proposed boundaries are simply preliminary suggestions by the redistricting commission. Like Rep. Randy Baumgardner — who would no longer live in House District 57, which he represents, if the preliminary maps were enacted — there’s no reason to “get all bent out of shape” at the first attempt at redrawing Western Slope legislative districts.

But there is ample reason for people who live in those districts to voice their concerns to the redistricting commission when they see something in a preliminary proposal that’s unacceptable.

Dividing Collbran and Mesa fits that description.


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