District changes may affect Nov. vote

County population shift forces Routt redistricting

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— The redrawing of Routt County Commission districts could have an impact on the 2002 election when the 3rd District seat will be up for grabs.

Recently, Routt County Commissioners Nancy Stahoviak, Doug Monger and Dan Ellison approved new district boundaries that had to be changed because of state statute requirements.

To get equal population in the three districts, county officials had to switch two precincts, which could have an effect on the 2002 election.

According to the new boundaries that were approved Tuesday, a resident who lives in the 3rd Precinct is no longer eligible to run for the 3rd District seat.

This precinct, which consists of the Fairview neighborhood, has been moved to the 1st District.

To make up for the loss in population, county officials moved the 6th Precinct from the 1st District into the 3rd District.

For the 2002 election, a resident from this precinct, which is located on the southern edge of Steamboat, now has the opportunity to contend for the seat currently held by Ellison.

"The districts are not a line where people can vote," Assistant County Attorney Jonathan Krauss said.

"The districts are used to determine if a person is eligible to be a candidate for that district."

Krauss and two other county employees spent about three months redrawing the district boundaries.

"Our intent was to shift the boundaries without impacting existing precincts," he said.

After each census, state statutes require counties to redraw district boundaries to ensure the number of residents in each district is equal, Krauss said.

What the committee came up with are three districts that have populations of about 6,500 residents each.

"There really is not a huge amount of change," County Clerk Kay Weinland said. "I was really surprised."

The 1st District continues to be South Routt County and has a population of 6,596.

Stahoviak, who was elected in 2000, is the commissioner of this district that includes Oak Creek and Yampa.

With the new boundaries the district will lose Precinct 6 but gain Precinct 3.

The 2nd District remains intact and is comprised of West and North Routt.

This area, which consists of Hayden and Clark, has a population of 6,541 residents. Commissioner Doug Monger was also elected from this district in 2000.

The 3rd District is the smallest geographically and consists of the majority of Steamboat Springs. This district has a total population of 6,553 residents.

This district loses Precinct 3 but gains Precinct 6 because of the change.

This district elected Ellison in 1998.

Krauss worked on the project with Weinland and Robert Felinczak, who was responsible for mapping the districts using Geographic Information System software.

"We were able to create three districts that are close in population as possible and are geographically compact," Krauss said.

The project took the most of the summer to complete and the county had to approve of the changes by today.

The last time the county changed the district boundaries was in 1997.

According to state statutes, the county has the authority to change the boundaries in 2003.

To reach Gary Salazar call 871-4205

or e-mail gsalazar@steamboatpilot.com

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