As the Colorado Reapportionment Commission meets to try and finalize a complicated legislative map, Montezuma County officials are sticking to a simple request: Make us whole or leave us alone.
Montezuma was one of 10 counties represented earlier this month during oral arguments on state legislative districts before the Colorado Supreme Court. While larger counties such as Jefferson and Weld sent attorneys, Montezuma was represented by a letter from County Clerk Carol Tullis and a set of geographic information system maps illustrating the impact the initial redistricting would have on the county.
The district lines were going through subdivisions and right through a house and up to somebodys back door. That was the map (the commission) had proposed, Tullis said.
The Colorado Reapportionment Commission is required to resubmit a reapportionment plan for state legislative districts by 5 p.m. Dec. 6. The commission is scheduled to meet Monday and Tuesday to consider final plans.
New maps are drafted by the commission every 10 years after the census. The purpose is to balance the states population among districts.
Tullis said the most disconcerting aspect of the new map was the way one corner of Montezuma County was split off as part of the 59th district while the rest of the county was part of the 58th.
When we saw that, that is when I got really concerned, Tullis said. It just didnt make any sense for that one little portion of the county to be split off.
Under the current legislative map, Montezuma County is somewhat evenly divided, with the eastern portion part of the 59th legislative district along with La Plata, San Juan and Archuleta counties, and the western portion joining Dolores, Montrose, Ouray and Delta counties in the 58th district.
The new map would have taken the majority of the county and put it in the 58th district, retaining the northeast corner of the county for the 59th district.
In Tullis letter to the court, she argued the corner of the county did not have like interests with the redesigned 59th district.
Montezuma County is basically a farm and ranch community with some tourism, Tullis wrote in the letter. This little portion of Dolores, Colorado, does not have any like interests as Telluride does.
Tullis was not the only one in the state arguing for county unity. Opponents argued the maps drawn by the commission had 43 House seats contained within single counties, while 47 were possible, and Senate maps had only 23 seats wholly within counties, while 26 were possible.
The highest court in Colorado agreed. In a decision issued Nov. 15, the court directed the reapportionment commission to modify the maps because the finalized Reapportionment Plan is not sufficiently attentive to county boundaries.
Tullis said county officials are pleased and hope the new map will either stick closely to the current district lines or keep Montezuma County whole.
While other complaints regarding redistricting in the state have focused on disenfranchised voters, the concerns in Montezuma County center on keeping like interests together.
firstname.lastname@example.org The Associated Press contributed to this report.