Changing lines mean state government changes

Column by Linda Rockwell
Posted 11/30/21

The times they are a-changin’. More precisely, the lines they are a-changin’. Redistricting and reapportionment have upended much of Jefferson County, especially the mountain area. After the 2022 election, we will no longer be represented by Congressman Joe Neguse, State Sen. Tammy Story nor State Rep. Lisa Cutter.

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Changing lines mean state government changes

Posted

The times they are a-changin’. More precisely, the lines they are a-changin’.

Redistricting and reapportionment have upended much of Jefferson County, especially the mountain area. After the 2022 election, we will no longer be represented by Congressman Joe Neguse, State Sen. Tammy Story nor State Rep. Lisa Cutter.

The last four years have been sweet for us Democrats, with such fine people serving us so well. They have embraced our issues, particularly fire mitigation, and worked hard to stay in touch with their constituents.

These changes have come about because of constitutional requirements to redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries based on the decennial census. Voters passed two constitutional amendments in 2018 that created two commissions to do this job, one for congressional districts and another for the state legislature.

The commissioners were chosen from a pool of applicants in a complicated process, and four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters were ultimately appointed to each one. They held numerous public meetings seeking input on maps created by nonpartisan staff.

Earlier this month, their final maps were approved by the State Supreme Court, which found they met the mandated criteria for compactness and competitiveness.

The Supreme Court may be happy, but many Jeffco Democrats are not. Sen. Story, who lives west of Evergreen Meadows, is only a mile and a half from the undulating boundary of a new, strongly Republican district that includes seven rural mountain counties to the south.

Lisa Cutter was cut out of House District 25 by less than a mile. She is now in the same district as Lakewood’s Kerry Tipper. Senators Petterson and Danielson were also drawn into the same district.

I’m hesitant to cry foul, but if someone had consciously tried to dilute the power of Jeffco’s Democratic women, they couldn’t have done a better job.

Sen. Story tells me that women’s strong presence in the legislature “has done transformational things.” Some legislation that might not have been proposed without women leading the way were bills regarding equal pay for equal work, paid family leave and universal pre-school.

Rep. Cutter is equally proud of her work on environmental issues, particularly recycling and fire mitigation. She has embraced the opportunity to make a real difference, but what she’ll miss the most are the people she has come to know in the mountain communities.

All is not lost, however. Almost all of Jefferson County is now in Congressional District 7, which has long been represented by Ed Perlmutter. He is favored to win in this newly drawn district, which includes six mountain counties to the south.

It’s also highly likely that a Democrat will prevail in the new Senate District 20, which extends north from the Evergreen area to the Boulder County line and east to Wadsworth Blvd in the south.

Evergreen remains in House District 25, which is now all of Jeffco south of Interstate 70 and west of C-470. The current HD 22 representative, a Republican, lives in the new HD 25, but even if he runs, he could lose to a Democrat with strong ties to the community.

As I write, my friends are abuzz with speculation about who will do what, or not, in the coming year. It will be awhile until everything gets sorted out, but I have confidence that the combination of good public policy and hard work will lead Democrats to victories again in 2022.

Change is hard for most of us, but as we know from our personal lives, it can create new opportunities and better outcomes in the long run.

Linda Rockwell moved to Evergreen with her family in 1982. She got involved in local land-use issues in 1984 and in the Democratic Party a few years later. She served as chair of the Jeffco Democrats from 1993 to 1997. Good government and principled politics remain her passion.

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