Douglas County residents and leaders came together Aug. 18 to provide input for the once-a-decade redistricting process during a public hearing with the commissions in charge of drawing the new district boundaries.
For the first time, twin independent redistricting commissions — instead of the state legislature — are creating the districts for Colorado’s state legislative and congressional districts.
Among the 35 speakers who signed up to speak at the meeting in Ranch View Middle School in Highlands Ranch were the Douglas County commissioners, the mayor of Parker, Wind Crest Senior Living Community residents, former state Sen. John Evans and Stu Parker, the chairman of the county’s Republican Party. Speakers were given three minutes to speak and were then asked questions by the commission.
The commissions released preliminary maps June 23 and are now in the process of hearing from the public. The commissions’ maps must be approved by the Colorado Supreme Court no later than Dec. 15 for the congressional map and Dec. 29 for the legislative maps.
Several of the speakers advocated for Douglas County, the Town of Parker and Wind Crest Senior Living Community to each remain whole in their districts rather than be divided as they are under the preliminary maps.
“I would ask that you keep (Douglas County) whole as much as possible and keep it in the metro area,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, the first to speak during the meeting.
It was the commissions’ 29th public meeting and they had seven more meetings to go during their tour.
During their comments, each of the three Douglas County commissioners spoke about separate district maps.
Commissioner George Teal focused on the state Senate map, arguing that Castle Rock and Parker have shared interests and should be in the same district. He suggested redrawing District 15 — which includes Castle Rock, Castle Pines and parts of Parker under the preliminary map — and giving it a “distinct Parker, Castle Rock alignment.”
Commissioner Lora Thomas spoke about the state House districts, specifically Districts 33 and 22, which divide both Highlands Ranch and the Wind Crest community. Thomas echoed earlier comments from representatives of Wind Crest, who said they would like to see their community kept whole, preferably within District 22.
“We have the same water provider, the same road district, the same community association, we have the same metro district,” Thomas said. “Highlands Ranch would like to be kept as whole as possible.”
Commissioner Abe Laydon spoke about congressional redistricting, focusing on the Town of Parker’s desire to remain whole within proposed District 7.
“When maps were originally drawn, Douglas County was included with Weld and others and rural communities based on oil and gas interests,” Laydon said. “We actually have no significant oil and gas interests in Douglas County so we’re really in a position to be more focused as a community of interest representing 360,000 citizens.”
Parker Mayor Jeff Toborg, another speaker at the meeting, provided proposed changes to the map that would keep the town together.
“Literally you are splitting up our business community all the way down through and out to I-25 for us,” Toborg said. “Parker belongs as a whole community, Parker belongs to Douglas County. That’s who we have our relationships with in terms of government.”
In June, the Parker Town Council agreed to send a formal request to the commission asking not to be split between two districts and instead be entirely included in the 7th District.
“To cut my town in half, to give half to one district and half to another is completely nonsensical,” Toborg said. “I fully expect the commission to live up to the constitutional responsibilities to keep me as a whole town.”
A recording of the meeting is available by visiting redistricting.colorado.gov then selecting “meetings” followed by “meeting archive.”