Steamboat Springs Declared candidate Jim Hansen likely will have to wait until at least 2012 to make a run for Routt County commissioner. But there’s also the chance that his eligibility will change again in 2011.
Hansen was nominated at the Routt County Republican Assembly on April 10 to challenge Democratic Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush, of District 3. However, after filing papers for his candidacy with the Routt County Clerk’s Office, he learned that he lives on the wrong side of Broad Street to be eligible to run for the District 3 seat.
“I was pretty excited to run, but I erred when I was at the assembly. At this point, it’s clear that I’m not (living) in the district,” Hansen said. “What’s frustrating is that so many people in the county were coming up to me and urging me to run.”
The east side of Broad Street, in Old Town Steamboat Springs, is in District 3, but Hansen lives on the west side of the street, in Commissioner Doug Monger’s District 2 territory. That seat comes up for election again in two years.
“I looked at his paperwork and thought something was wrong,” Election Supervisor Vicki Weber said. “I thought, ‘That poor man. He’s 25 feet on the wrong side.’”
Hansen is the managing broker and an owner of Old Town Realty. In 1983, he served as a legislative intern with former U.S. Sen. Bill Armstrong.
It’s not difficult to understand how Hansen formed a mistaken impression about which commissioner district he lived in; when he bought his home near the intersection with Deerfoot Avenue at 863 Broad St. in 1994, the residence was within the boundaries of District 3.
The three commissioner districts are redrawn, just like congressional districts, every decade after the census is complete. The purpose is to equalize the population of each district as closely as possible. The population of all three districts, which were redrawn in 2001, lies between 6,540 and 6,600.
The boundaries are due to be reconsidered again in 2011 after the results of the 2010 census are available. In Routt County, the most effective place to equalize the population of the three commissioner districts is in the population center of Steamboat Springs (which lies mostly within District 3), where it’s easy to add or subtract 100 people from the surrounding rural districts (District 1 largely comprises South Routt, and District 2 largely comprises West and North Routt). Shifting the boundaries by a block or two can add people to one district and subtract them from another.
However, Weber said, when the county commissioners sit down to equalize the districts next year, they won’t just look at changes in the existing populations but also at where they expect growth to take place in the decade ahead.
The reason is to ensure the districts are as fairly drawn as possible into the future.
If the most effective equalization strategy in 2011 turned out to be to return Hansen’s residence to District 3, that might represent the ultimate political irony.
For now, Hansen said, he is “weighing his options.”
— To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org