(CBS4) – Colorado’s new legislative redistricting map is drawing criticism from people who say it’s racially gerrymandered. The preliminary maps for the State Legislature and Congress were drawn by non-partisan staffers at the State Capitol.
Independent Redistricting Commissions are now holding hearings across the state to get input on the final maps. Their slogan is “Your state, Your maps, Your voice” and it’s being put to the test as Black and Brown community leaders voiced their concerns at a hearing in Denver on Tuesday night.
“Quite frankly we see remnants of those redlines in those maps that are drawn,” said State Rep. Leslie Herod.
Herod says the new legislative map splits many communities of color, diluting their voting power. In her district in Northeast Denver, the Black vote in Five Points and North Park Hill is now divided between two districts.
“They draw northeast Denver down Colorado Blvd., capturing north Park Hill with Crestmore. These areas are so very so different not only in the racial makeup but also in the economic differences,” said Herod.
Black communities in Aurora, she says, see the same cracks. Several Latino neighborhoods are also divided.
Sen. Julie Gonzalez says her District has gone from 47 percent to 24 percent Latino. Representatives Alex Valdez and Serene Gonzalez Gutierrez are now drawn into the same district.
“What I want to see in this next round of maps are equity and equality and communities of interest placed at a higher priority, cause right now you can tell that it is not,” Herod said.
If the final map doesn’t reconnect communities of color, Herod says issues important to those communities – like police reform and equity in education – may not be priorities at the State Capitol either.
“I’m confident that we’re going to see new maps that really do reflect the vibrant diversity of this community and ensure its representation at the Capitol,” she said.
The commissions hired an expert on the Voting Rights Act to make sure the final maps comply with the law. Those maps are required by the State Constitution to be complete by September but, because final census data was delayed until August 16, the State Supreme Court has given the commissions until October to hand in their final maps.
Public hearings on this map as well as the Congressional redistricting continue to be held around the state. You can find out more here.