Staff legislative redistricting map dramatically alters State Sen. Cleave Simpson’s District 35
by cvlopez | email@example.com
THE Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission released its first legislative staff maps this week, and the state senate districts map dramatically changes where the 6-county San Luis Valley shows up and who current state Senator Cleave Simpson represents.
Alamosa and the San Luis Valley are drawn into state Senate District 7 in the staff map, moving the six counties of the Valley out of state Senate District 35 which Simpson of Alamosa represents. SD35, meanwhile, would become a complete Pueblo County district.
“Well, it is and will continue to be an honor to work for the constituents of SD35, SD10 or SD7 whatever the case may be,” Simpson told Alamosa Citizen. “The latest staff map is a significant change of historical representation of communities of interest. The San Luis Valley and the Southwestern portion of Colorado do share a variety of communities of interest, largely around hotter and drier conditions and those impacts on the landscape and the people. We also place tremendous value on our water resources and the ever increasing pressure on those resources, particularly pressure from downstream and out of basin interests.”
In addition to the six Valley counties, Archuleta, Custer, Dolores, La Plata, Ouray, Montezuma, San Juan and San Miguel counties show up in SD7.
Meanwhile, the initial state house redistricting maps keep the six San Luis Valley counties in state house district 62, currently represented by state Rep. Don Valdez, but it does change the current house district 62 boundaries. All the redistricting maps can be found here.
The Colorado Redistricting Commission released the initial staff maps on Monday, with the following information:
The state senate and state house plans were prepared using 2020 Census Data, public comments and input from the
legislative commission. The legislative commission must approve the final plan by Oct. 11. As stated in the Colorado Constitution, the new legislative districts must:
- Have equal population, as required by the U.S. Constitution, with a population deviation of no more than 5 percent between the most populous and the least populous district in each chamber;
- Be composed of contiguous geographic areas;
- Comply with the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965,” as amended;
- Preserve whole communities of interest and whole political subdivisions, such as counties, cities, and towns; however, a division of a county, city, city and county, or town is permitted where a community of interest’s legislative issues are more essential to the fair and effective representation of residents of the district. When the commission divides a county, city, city and county, or town, it shall minimize the number of divisions of that county, city, city and county, or town;
- Be as compact as is reasonably possible;
- and thereafter, maximize the number of politically competitive districts.
Districts cannot be drawn for the purpose of:
- Protecting incumbents in or declared candidates for the Colorado General Assembly or any political party; or
- Denying or abridging the right of any citizen to vote on account of that person’s race or membership in a language minority group, including diluting the impact of that racial or language minority group’s electoral influence.
The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission has approved several policies, which provide official direction from the commissioners to nonpartisan staff regarding compactness, competitiveness, prisoner allocation and more. The full text of these policies can be viewed at https://redistricting.colorado.gov/content/legislative-policies.
As announced last week, the Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission will hold virtual public hearings on Sept. 17 and Sept. 18. Individuals must sign up in advance to testify and sign ups will be limited to the first 40 people for each hearing. These hearings will be the final opportunity for members of the public to speak to the redistricting commission. Written public comments will remain open and available through the public hearing process and the consideration of final maps.
After the hearings on the legislative staff maps conclude, the commission can approve a final plan and submit it to the Supreme Court up until Oct. 11.
Simpson said the “the other glaring outcome is a huge Senate district (#3) that is made up of 19 counties and extends from Wyoming to New Mexico, very challenging for a state legislator. I am most interested in the comments of Coloradans and their initial thoughts around the first draft map.”
All of the first legislative staff plans can be viewed or downloaded at https://redistricting.colorado.gov/content/staff-legislative-1.
The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission earlier in September released initial staff congressional maps. The 6-county San Luis Valley would remain in the vast Congressional District 3. The initial staff congressional maps are here.