Several Western Slope politicians are unhappy with a proposal from the the state’s congressional redistricting process that would split the Western Slope into different congressional districts.
A staff map released by the independent redistricting commission Sept. 3 splits the northern part of Western Colorado into the 2nd Congressional District, which also contains Boulder, and the southern part of western Colorado, including Mesa County, into the 3rd Congressional District.
The Garfield County Commissioners released a statement Friday saying they were “disappointed and appalled” by the proposal.
“This split recklessly dilutes the voice, and thus the representation, of rural, western Garfield County among the urban centers of Boulder, Broomfield, and parts of Larimer counties, all with whom Garfield County shares little in common,” the statement read.
The Garfield County commissioners said the proposal ignores watersheds and the natural geography of the state.
“When conflicts arise between competing interests, Garfield County will have no congressional support,” the statement read.
The statement called the proposal “blatant gerrymandering” and said it would destroy Garfield County’s voice at the federal level.
”It weakens our shared policy concerns on public lands, agricultural issues, housing, environmental concerns, education, public health, water quality, and transportation,” the statement read.
The statement concluded by saying Garfield County should stay within the 3rd Congressional District.
Scott McInnis, a Mesa County commissioner and former congressional representative for the 3rd district, said he also disagreed with splitting the Western Slope.
The split would further concentrate power in the Denver area and likely “take a congressperson away from the Western Slope,” McInnis said.
“They’re usurping the voice of western Colorado,” McInnis said. “Whether it’s Democrat or Republican.”
McInnis said the map, if adopted, would take away any chance rural communities have at representation.
“Patronize us, pat us on the back, tell us that they love us and then gut us,” McInnis said.
McInnis said if he had a say in the process he wouldn’t tinker much with the Western Slope at all.
Congresswoman Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) touched on redistricting at Club 20’s fall conference in Grand Junction Saturday. The staff map released earlier this month would put Boebert in the 2nd District, though Boebert has said she intends to run in the 3rd District regardless of redistricting, which is allowed.
“I’m not allowed to say too much about redistricting, but I will say that we need to put our water first, and we don’t need to include certain areas of Colorado into Western Colorado’s water.”
Alan Philp, a Republican lobbyist who also spoke at Club 20 about the redistricting process, said things are going to move very quickly in the process during the next two weeks.
The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission has three meetings and three public hearings scheduled for the upcoming week, starting Tuesday.