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Jefferson County opposes proposed redistricting map

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Congressional district would contain Teller, El Paso and Jefferson counties

By Emile Hallez

Staff Writer

The Jeffco commissioners filed a court document last week opposing a proposed congressional map that could slice the county into five districts and lump South Jeffco with Teller and El Paso counties.

The state legislature attempted earlier this year to redraw congressional maps following results of the 2010 U.S. Census. But because no proposed maps received adequate support, the process stalled and now rests on the results of two Denver lawsuits that could be heard next week.

“Jefferson County opposes this plan, and any plan that may be proposed that would divide Jefferson County into even more districts, thereby violating the criteria to preserve political subdivisions and communities of interest,” an excerpt of the county’s amicus brief reads.

Because the lawsuits, which have since been consolidated, were filed months ago, Jeffco is not a party to the suits. Rather, the filed brief merely represents its opposition to what it deems the most disruptive proposed map.

Particularly, the county opposes a map submitted by two plaintiffs in the suit — the Colorado Latino Forum and Colorado Hispanic Bar Association.

“South Jeffco would be with Teller and El Paso counties,” County Attorney Ellen Wakeman said. “We don’t think we have a community of interests.”

Instead, the county favors two proposed maps that keep larger portions of the county intact. One of the two maps would place nearly all of the county in District 7, excluding District 6 entirely. Another map, which bears the most resemblance to the current one, would split the county largely between the two districts.

Currently, portions of Jeffco lie in House Districts 1, 6 and 7. However, only three votes were recorded for District 1 in the 2010 election — a tiny sliver of the county is in that district.

Notably, the opposed map significantly alters District 6 incumbent Mike Coffman’s voter base. However, the map of second preference to the county would cut Jeffco residents out of his district entirely.

In their court filing, the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association and Colorado Latino Forum cited a need to preserve communities, particularly those of the Hispanic population.

“The sizable and cohesive Hispanic communities throughout Colorado represent unique communities of interest bonded through strong economic, social, familial, cultural, economic, trade area, geographic and demographic ties that should be considered,” the lawsuit’s complaint states.

Regardless, since the county is not an official party to the lawsuit, any effect the amicus brief will have on a court’s decision may be minimal.

“There are so many interests in this,” Wakeman said. “I don’t know if it’s going to have a huge impact.”

 

Contact Emile Hallez at emile@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22. For updates, check www.ColumbineCourier.com.