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Public redistricting forum discusses county election representation

graphic illustration depicting three hands in three different colors marking boundary lines for districts in Colorado
(Graphic illustration by Robbie Haynes | The Collegian)

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission has completed preliminary drawings for how Colorado should be divided for federal and state representation and is now heading to every county to hear input on these first preliminary maps. 

Commissioners received public comments from people in person and over Zoom and posed questions to the commentators to fully understand and consider their input during a public forum July 17. Each commenter had three minutes to stake their claim and then ask a small question and answer from the commissioners.

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Kristin Grazier has lived in Fort Collins since graduating from Colorado State University. As an activist affiliated with multiple political organizations, Grazier came to the forum to express her concerns with the congressional map and the district that incorporates Larimer County. 

“(Boulder and Larimer counties) share a lot of things in common,” Grazier said. “I don’t think that’s necessarily a reason to put them together. I think (Larimer County) still has more in common with Weld County, so I think going back to the map that puts Weld and Larimer together is better.”  

The majority of speakers at the forum came to speak on this issue because it determines the course of federal elections for the next 10 years. The federal district has been largely noncompetitive when grouped with Boulder these last 10 years, almost always guaranteeing a Democrat, according to William Leone, Colorado independent congressional redistricting commissioner from the 7th District.

Shadduck-McNally commented on the pattern of partisanship within the two counties since 2011, attributing it to not only an increase in the number of unaffiliated voters but also a shift in the morals and values of Larimer County over the past year. 

“We want to do something better for the people so that their votes really do matter so that we don’t have 40% of the people in each congressional district feeling like they’re disenfranchised because they have no chance of ever electing someone who’s going to pay attention to their views,” Leone said. 

Although the majority of speakers came to advocate for the change to an east-west division and the incorporation of Weld County, there were still a substantial number of speakers who want to keep the currently drawn north-to-south district that incorporates Larimer County with Boulder County.

Larimer County Commissioner from District 3, Jody Shadduck-McNally, gave public comments that advocated for keeping Boulder and Larimer counties together. She believes there have been important economic, agricultural and progressive relationships built in the last 10 years while being incorporated with Boulder County. 

“I believe Larimer County is in a good place with this current congressional representation, and I believe that it would be great to have these political subdivisions kept whole,” Shadduck-McNally said. 

Shadduck-McNally commented on the pattern of partisanship within the two counties since 2011, attributing it to not only an increase in the number of unaffiliated voters but also a shift in the morals and values of Larimer County over the past year. 

“I feel that those elections, though they may not seem competitive, are mostly because the values in common areas of interest have changed for Larimer County, but those are hard-fought elections,” Shadduck-McNally said. 

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The commission will continue to travel around Colorado taking public input before drafting the final maps to submit to the Colorado Supreme Court. The timeline can be found via the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions website. 

Isaiah Dennings can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @isaiah_dennings.

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