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September 20, 2011
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Final legislative district map groups Grand with Summit and Eagle counties

Those who argued against Grand County being part of an East Slope Colorado House district can claim a tentative victory, with the final vote of the state reapportionment committee clustering Grand County with Eagle and Summit counties.

The final plan, which creates House District 63 of Grand, Eagle and Summit counties with a population of 79,309 (within 1,937 people of the targeted population) was approved around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19.

The plan was a last-minute map introduced by Chairman Mario Carrera, the sole independent on the Reapportionment Committee board.

"He took a look at the maps discussed the week before, took some districts from each of the Republican and Democratic plans, and drew some of his own," said Jeremiah Berry, chair of the reapportionment staff.

"The commissioner and Mr. Carrera certainly heard loud and clear Grand County didn't want to be with Boulder, or anything on the Eastern Slope," he said.

Grand County citizens, he said, were the most vocal of all throughout the reapportionment process.

The numbers did not work to keep Grand County in with District 57 of Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and most of Garfield, he said. Now, a portion of Mesa County has been lumped into District 57, splitting that county three ways.

"I doubt if they're happy," Berry said.

Grand County replaces Lake County as sharing a district with Eagle and Summit.

Instead, Lake has joined Chaffee, Freemont and Custer counties. Although it has a "strong connection" with Chaffee, it is less in "communities of interest" with Freemont and Custer.

During meetings at Gunnison, Montrose and Grand Junction, the reapportionment committee also heard loud and clear that Gunnison County wanted to remain whole, Berry said, which it does in the final approved map.

Carrera's House map was approved with an 8-3 vote. Three Republicans, Steve Tool, Mario Nicolais and Rob Witwer, voted against the plan. The vote rejects other proposed plans that had Grand County grouped with Boulder or Larimer counties on the Front Range.

A large contingent of citizens came out against those proposals in both Republican and Democratic camps, although a faction of Grand County Democrats ended up in favor of sharing a district with Boulder County.

The new House District 63 reflects about 28 percent registered Democrats, 31.5 percent registered Republicans and 39.6 percent unaffiliated voters, according to a population summary by the reapportionment staff.

Meanwhile, the Reapportionment Commission voted in favor of a less controversial map that shows Senate District 8 with Grand County, Jackson, Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Summit, Garfield and a portion of Boulder counties.

The final maps will now be reviewed by the Colorado Supreme Court, and citizens can file objections with the court.

- Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603


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The Sky-Hi News Updated Sep 21, 2011 12:07PM Published Sep 20, 2011 08:00PM Copyright 2011 The Sky-Hi News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.