Legislative redistricting work begins
Western Slope residents will have their first opportunity Monday to make their feelings known about how their legislative districts should be redrawn.
That’s when the Colorado Reapportionment Commission will begin accepting public comments about how it should redraw Colorado House and Senate lines for the Western Slope.
Though some local folks plan to make the trip to Denver, those who can’t still should comment, said Gayle Berry, a former Grand Junction state representative and member of the panel.
Berry said the hearing is an important first step in helping the 11-member commission determine what it should and should not consider when drawing the map.
“This particular public testimony is helpful because some of the districts have lost population, and some have gained, so we have to shift those lines,” Berry said. “It’s helpful to get that feedback even before we do a preliminary map. The public hearings that will come later around the state, which will include Grand Junction, will be to get input on those preliminary maps.”
Berry said House District 54 and 55 are good examples. The two districts that include Mesa County and western Delta County have too many people. As a result, both need to shrink. The question, Berry said, is: How best to do that?
The commission already has taken public comments on legislative districts in several Front Range counties, and it plans to do the same for the rest of the state in the coming weeks.
Once that is done, and preliminary maps are created for redrawing the state’s 35 Senate and 65 House districts, the commission will hold more public hearings around the state in August and September.
Berry said that round of hearings will include Grand Junction, Montrose, Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs.
In the meantime, Berry is encouraging as many people as possible to make their feelings known now.
“As all of those pieces start fitting together and shifting, it would be really helpful to hear folks say, ‘It would be most helpful to have the line here,’ or ‘it would be most helpful to keep these counties together,’ or ‘it would be most helpful to take a portion of this county here or there,’ ” Berry said.