Westside big part of legislative reapportionment changes
Heading into the 2012 election season, many Westsiders will find themselves living in different legislative districts than in the past for both the State Senate and House.
Why? It's because of a process known as reapportionment - essentially a redrawing of district boundaries. Such is required every 10 years to reflect census-produced population changes.
A Democrat-favored reapportionment plan - vigorously opposed by Republicans, who had their own ideas, disliked by Democrats - was approved by the Colorado Supreme Court late last year after a months-long process by the State Reapportionment Commission.
The new districts technically won't take effect until 2013, when November election winners begin their terms; however, the changes are already a reality for statewide candidates, who must use those districts in their campaigns.
Also, with party caucuses coming up soon (Feb. 7 for Republicans, March 6 for Democrats), the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder's Office plans to mail cards before the end of January to all active registered voters in both parties - 386,053 in all, according to the office's website - telling them their new districts.
The Westside (defined as west of I-25, north of Cheyenne/Broadmoor, east of Manitou Springs and south of Garden of the Gods Road) currently has Senate Districts 11 and 12 and House Districts 18 and 21. Now, it will have Senate Districts 2 (a small piece), 9, 11 and 12 and House Districts 18 and 20.
Arguably, the most visible Westside impact will be in State Senate District 12, currently represented by Republican Keith King. Giving up its northern Westside area and taking in a new, broad swath of eastern Colorado Springs, SD-12 is so altered that its boundaries now include the home of fellow Republican Senator Bill Cadman (the Senate Minority Leader, who represents old Senate District 10).
In a prepared statement last month, King said he will not seek a second term this fall so as to avoid competing with Cadman. “I am disappointed that the Democrats intentionally grouped two senators together in El Paso County,” said King, who plans to focus more time on the Westside's Early Colleges High School, which he founded. “I will not give them the satisfaction of watching close colleagues primary each other in the 2012 elections.”
Senate Majority Leader John Morse, who represents SD-11, said the King-Cadman doubling was an unintentional result of seeking fairness and that in another part of the state the same thing happened to two Democrat state senators. He also pointed out that the first map from the Reapportion-ment Commission did not include the doubling. The second one did, after the Supreme Court remanded the first one back to the commission in response to Republican complaints about how it split up some counties. “Be careful what you ask for,” Morse said of the ultimate result.
Bob Gardner, currently the Republican representative for House District 21, has to deal with another kind of change - his district number. He lives in the new House District 20, so that's where he must run for re-election this fall. As far as the Westside goes, new 20 won't be that different from old 21, with areas north, west and south of Old Colorado City. But 20 will stretch farther north - to the Douglas County line, including Palmer Lake (but not Monument) - and not as far south. A military element remains. Old 21 includes Fort Carson but not the Air Force Academy; the new 20 will be just the opposite.
Like King, Gardner criticized the final reapportionment, questioning if the new 20 meets a criterion known as “community of interest.” “As an Air Force Academy graduate, I'm pleased to have it be part of my house district, but as a community of interest, it isn't one,” he said. “I suppose it's no worse than my current district, which has the Broadmoor and Penrose. Was I able to represent them? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes. But does it make sense from a reapportionment standpoint? Absolutely not.”
The least amount of reapportionment changes on the Westside will be to House District 18, represented by Democrat Pete Lee; and to Morse's Senate District 11. Both have areas that include Old Colorado City as well as Manitou and the downtown.
The main changes to HD-18 will be adding the Skyway area (formerly in HD-21) and a couple of neighborhoods east of downtown. SD-11 will pick up the Midland neighborhood south of Highway 24 (which had also been in the old SD-12). Both districts needed to add population so as to have enough numbers to still qualify as districts, Lee and Morse pointed out.
Note: Morse's seat will not be up for election this year. His term expires in 2014.
Lee distanced himself from the reapportionment process, saying he was not personally involved. But he defended his party's involvement, saying that one of the benefits of the final map is “more competitive districts” [in terms of party affiliations in voter registrations].
As for his district, in which he plans to seek re-election in November, Lee said he is “delighted” with its layout. “I'm pleased to pick up Skyway,” he added, “even though it's a redder [more Republican] area.” He noted that he'd walked that neighborhood previously in his unsuccessful race against King for Senate District 12 in 2008 and has some friends there.
Two other senate districts will now touch on the Westside because of the reapportionment:
The Reapportionment Commission consisted of 11 appointees from several sources - one each by the Senate majority and minority leaders and the House's speaker and minority leader; three by the governor; and four by the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. The goal is equal representation, Morse explained - in fact, the chief justice, appointing last, is supposed to “fill in the gaps” of party affiliations that might result from the other appointments. Thus, the commission ended up with five Democrats, five Republicans and one unaffiliated. It was the latter's decision to side with the Democrats that resulted in the map that went to the Supreme Court, which ultimately approved it.
Westside Pioneer article