Screenshot 2021-06-23 141050.jpg

Following an order of the Colorado Supreme Court, the state's independent congressional redistricting commission has adopted a new timeline, culminating in a submission of the new U.S. House of Representatives district boundaries by Oct. 1.

The commission's new schedule anticipates the U.S. Census Bureau will release final population data on Aug. 16, and the posting of a staff plan the first full week in September. The commission will hold hearings the week of Sept. 7-11 in each of the state's congressional districts, and could put forward additional plans as needed.

In accordance with the constitution, the commission will then file its final proposal to the Supreme Court for review on Oct. 1. The Court has decided to hold oral arguments on Oct. 12, and issue an opinion no later than November 1 on whether the commission abused its discretion in drawing the maps. The constitution provides a deadline of Dec. 15 for the Court to approve the district boundaries that will be valid for the next decade. 

Last week, the commission and its counterpart for drawing state legislative districts held joint public hearings in Denver and Aurora. On Tuesday night, the Black community told redistricting commissioners that the preliminary draft legislative maps do not reflect communities of interest in the central and northeast Denver, Adams County and Arapahoe County.

Reps. Leslie Herod and Jennifer Bacon, both Democrats, and  former Denver mayor Wellington Webb were among those who testified. Joining them were religious and civic leaders, as well as people active in local party politics.

The following evening in Aurora, current and former lawmakers appeared before the commissions to stress the importance of respecting the north-south divide in Aurora: keeping communities on either side of Colfax Avenue — the boundary between Adams and Arapahoe counties — together. Legislative redistricting commissioners heard the suggestion to adhere to the current districts as closely as possible.

Some community members spoke of a need for more competitive districts in Aurora, while others wanted to reduce the number of ways that the proposed maps split the city. Commission members heard that the city itself could fit into two Senate districts and five House districts.

Witnesses complimented the congressional redistricting commission for keeping Aurora whole in Congressional District 6. A representative of the Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network said it was important to maintain the privately-run immigrant detention facility in CD6. Although detainees cannot vote, Aurora provides police and EMS services to the facility, and the diverse Aurora community purportedly has experiences most aligned with detained migrants.

Representatives of other immigrant communities also spoke to the congressional redistricting commissioners about keeping those constituencies unified. One man living in Denver mentioned the influence the Armenian community has historically had with CD6's congressional representatives. Additional speakers from the Asian-American and Ethiopian communities also sought to keep their communities represented by one congressperson, preferably in CD6.