As a state commission moves closer to redrawing Colorado’s congressional districts, residents of Adams and Jefferson counties made their voices heard on how they want to be represented in …
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As a state commission moves closer to redrawing Colorado’s congressional districts, residents of Adams and Jefferson counties made their voices heard on how they want to be represented in Washington at a July 13 public meeting at Red Rocks Community College’s Arvada campus.
An ongoing tour across the Centennial State to gauge community feedback to its preliminary map brought the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission to Arvada, where many voiced their concerns about the proposed redistricting.
After gaining more than 750,000 new residents in the last decade, Colorado was awarded an Eighth Congressional District in April — the state’s first new district in 20 years. The proposed boundaries for the 8th Congressional District would include parts of Arvada, Broomfield, Brighton, Fort Lupton, Thornton, Westminster, Firestone and Platteville, among other communities.
Over 40 attendees of the meeting gave oral testimony over the course of the evening. Residents from the proposed district and the surrounding areas expressed concern over how the congressional district would split county lines, which some commenters said would hinder their community’s ability to vote together on issues of shared interest.
Arvada Mayor Marc Williams spoke first, voicing his desire to keep Jefferson County cities in the same congressional district.
“Arvada’s community of interest lies primarily with Golden, Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Edgewater and Westminster,” said Williams, “in other words, the Jefferson County cities. These are all Jeffco cities who will be getting a letter from the Jeffco mayors indicating a very unified voice that we think that we should all be in one congressional district.
“And that’s because we work well together,” Williams continued. “We’ve worked together on the homelessness issue; we’ve done a great Navigator program that we’ve put together in Jefferson County to address that issue. We’re working on attainable housing. We also have common transportation issues… that commonality of interest is not something I want to lose.”
Under the preliminary map proposal, Arvada would break from current CD7 and Jefferson County counterparts Lakewood, Wheat Ridge, Golden and Edgewater, among others.
Ken Fellman, who served as mayor of Arvada from 1999 to 2007, wrote into the commission voicing his desire to keep Jefferson County communities of interest in the same congressional district.
“The 7th Congressional District today,” said Fellman, “includes centers of aerospace, technology, environmental leadership and manufacturing in the communities that surround us from Westminster to Golden to Lakewood. Many Arvada businesses support these industries and even more Arvada residents work in these neighboring communities. Keeping these communities of interest together in one House district is critically important to all of us living here.”
Red Rocks Community College President Michele Haney advocated for her own community of interest; the College’s two campuses, which would be split into separate congressional districts under the preliminary map proposal.
“If you look at the preliminary maps,” said Haney, “they divide our campuses in two; Arvada in one district, Lakewood in another ... I would ask you to consider keeping the community of interest together, and keeping the Arvada and Lakewood campuses in one (district).”
The meeting also saw many residents of Lakewood voicing their concern about the city’s grouping in the revamped CD7, which it would now share primarily with Douglas County cities Highlands Ranch, Castle Rock and Parker.
“I reside in Lakewood,” said Sandie Weathers in an oral testimony. “Although most of the bonds I have made are in Lakewood, many of them have been made with folks in Wheat Ridge and Arvada. It is to my chagrin to hear that Republican commissioners are trying to group Lakewood in a district in Douglas County. Lakewood shares nothing with Douglas county. The only purpose would be to try to turn a traditional blue district red. This is quite obvious. I ask for fairness and transparency.”
“Lakewood is connected by a community of interest, geography, and history to other municipalities in Jefferson County,” said Tami Tanoue in an oral testimony, “such as Arvada and Wheat Ridge. We are part of the service area of Denver Water and, along with many other Jeffco municipalities, are served by distributor agreements with Denver Water. There are numerous intergovernmental agreements in place, and Lakewood’s concerns and priorities are not congruent with those of Douglas County.”
The Commission will continue to hold community meetings through the end of Aug., with upcoming meetings slated for Denver on July 27, Aurora on July 28, Centennial on Aug. 3 and Golden on Aug. 4, among others. A full schedule of the Commission’s meetings can be found at redistricting.colorado.gov/meetings.
The first elections under the new districts will be in 2022.
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