Reapportionment moves forward

White, Taylor see shuffling in their districts


— State Rep. Al White, R-Winter Park, is preparing to say his good-byes to Vail, and State Sen. Jack Taylor, R-Steamboat Springs, may be about to get acquainted with portions of Mesa and Delta counties.

Both men represent Steamboat Springs in the state Legislature and both men are facing changes to their districts under a plan that won tentative approval this week.

The state's 35 Senate districts and 65 House districts are being revamped, or reapportioned, based on the results of the 2000 Census.

The reapportionment is mandated in order to assure the state's population is distributed as evenly among them as possible.

Jay Fetcher of Clark is the vice chairman of the Colorado Reapportionment Commission and the only representative from the Western Slope. He was White's Democratic opponent in last fall's election.

Fetcher confirmed the reapportionment committee tentatively approved a plan for Colorado's Western Slope on Wednesday that would take the eastern-most portion of Eagle County, including Vail, and possibly Avon, out of White's district.

That would effectively remove about 10,000 of the 15,000 constituents House District 56 needs to lose to come within balance.

The other 5,000 will come from Basalt, El Jebel and Carbondale, a plan White recommended before the committee began meeting.

"I don't like it," White said. "I come out of the tourism industry and Vail is the biggest player in Colorado's pond."

The plan moves Vail to Democrat Carl Miller's House District 61, which includes Pitkin, Lake and Chaffee counties.

White said the plan to separate the communities in the Roaring Fork Valley from his district makes sense.

"It's not because I don't love those people," White said. "It's because it's a difficult area for me to service."

Fetcher said he's aware that Taylor is unhappy with the reapportionment plan that takes Eagle County and parts of Grand County out of his district.

Eagle County would be shifted to Republican Sen. Ken Chlouber's Senate District 4 under the plan, along with Summit, Lake, Pitkin, Gunnison and Chaffee counties. That plan units the ski towns of Central Colorado in one district.

Taylor would gain the eastern- most precinct of Mesa County and all of Delta County. He would have to drive through Grand Junction to reach Delta County or over McClure Pass through Paonia to reach Delta.

Taylor estimated a trip through his district will now span 300 miles one-way.

"There are a lot of problems with this," Taylor said. "I also have to drive out of the district now to get to Garfield County. I can tell you from the last campaign, it was pretty difficult to be everywhere I need to be with a compact district."

Taylor said he believes the plan for the Western Slope is being driven by a desire to put Eagle and Summit counties together in one district.

But he said that will drive up campaign costs all across the Western Slope. And he thinks it's inconsistent to split Eagle County roughly in half for the new House District 56, but pull the entire county away from his Senate district.

Fetcher said the reapportionment plan isn't about individual legislators, but about a 10-year plan that takes into account growth patterns in the state.

"My logic is you're bringing together a real strong agricultural and mining base," in the newly apportioned District 8, Fetcher said.


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