Our View: County better served by new house district

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Editorial Board, Sept. 25, 2011, to January 2012

  • Scott Stanford, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

Partisan politics may have led to the recently approved redistricting maps of Colorado’s house districts, but the end result is a new district that better fits Routt County interests.

The Colorado Supreme Court upheld the new maps — previously approved by a 6-5 Democratic majority in the Colorado Reapportionment Commission — in a ruling last week. One of the results is the creation of the new House District 26, which will consist of Eagle and Routt counties. Routt County has been part of H.D. 57, which includes all or portions of Moffat, Rio Blanco, Grand, Garfield and Jackson counties.

One characteristic of H.D. 57 has been that its elected representative often isn’t the candidate supported by the majority of Routt County voters. Current Rep. Randy Baumgardner, a Republican from Hot Sulphur Springs in Grand County, has been elected twice for the seat despite losing both times in Routt County, and once by a significant margin. He’s been victorious because of the strong conservative voter base in all of the other counties that make up H.D. 57.

That will change with the creation of H.D. 26. According to 2010 voter registration records, the new H.D. 26 will have barely more registered Republicans than Democrats — 10,899 to 10,731 — with unaffiliated voters totaling 13,356. What it means is that a strong candidate from either major party has a good chance of winning the H.D. 26 seat beginning next fall. More important than particular party affiliation, it also means the candidate chosen by a majority of Routt County voters to represent their interests in the state Legislature actually might get elected. That’s a good thing.

Local Republicans who consider the new H.D. 26 a roadblock to Election Day success ought to think again. At least one centrist candidate from the GOP consistently won over a majority of Routt County voters in the past decade. That person — Al White — regularly defeated his Democratic rivals here, even in years when Democratic candidates won every other election on the ballot. The lesson to be learned by local party leaders on both sides of the aisle is that attracting candidates closer to the center of the political spectrum is a winning strategy, especially in a district that no longer is dominated by a particular party.

There’s something else we really like about H.D. 26 — the similarities among the communities that make up Eagle and Routt counties. Eagle County is home to the cities and towns of Vail, Avon, Edwards, Basalt and Minturn, among others. It’s a county that depends heavily on recreation-based tourism but also has longstanding agricultural ties. We can’t speak to the impact of the redistricting elsewhere in the state, but we think Routt County is better served by the results. Cheers to the new H.D. 26.

Comments

kathy foos 2 years, 9 months ago

Now maybe South Routt Citizens will have a bus service for instance.We travel down that Vail Corridor alot for shopping and work.Tourists and business's drive right up 131 to Steamboat all the time.It would make sense that both of our communitys share the same issue's in common.Instead of courting gas and oil at all cost,we will be for protecting the natural asset's which protect tourist industry , agriculture,and the National Forest's, which is what the tourist's and resident's really want .Thats property value protection for the many people that have located here for those specific reason's.

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BeCoolHoneyBunny 2 years, 9 months ago

Dear Santa,

Please bring kathy foos a working space bar for her computer, and the notion that not everything revolves around gas and oil. Thanks.

Yours truly, BCHB

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 9 months ago

The Democrats were very clever in drawing the district lines. The number of competitive districts make it a map that the courts would uphold as a good plan, but the dirty trick was how they "coincidentally" wrote districts that lumped currently elected Republicans into the same district.

The fact that the tragic tank explosion occurred in Rio Blanco County makes the rant about Routt County oil and gas even harder to follow.

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trump_suit 2 years, 9 months ago

Are you scared of Latino voters yvb? Do you have your facts straight about how bad those "city types" will vote? Why is your opinion so much more important than those opinions that reside in Eagle County?

I don't really have any strong concerns about the new district one way or another, but reading the harsh words written by yvb makes me wonder. With 10,899 to 10,731 — with unaffiliated voters totaling 13,356 this seems like an evenly balanced voting district to me.

Do you have a real concern or are you just ranting about how things are a changin' and you don't like change.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 9 months ago

Routt county is even more liberal than Eagle county if the 2008 presidential election is any indication. Routt voted around 64% for Obama, Eagle was at about 60%, so now it look as if Colorado Dems have created another safe house district seat for themselves. More than triple the number of Mexican voters in Eagle county and the "city types" probably won't make a bit of differance. Routt county (Steamboat) already is liberal and doesn't have a clue about the needs of Northwest CO. anyway. Yeah team :-(

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 9 months ago

Well, first off, it makes little difference to residents of the political leanings of their representative in the Colorado legislature. That person is just one vote in the legislature and has no special administrative power.

This is hardly a safe Democratic seat. Yes, Obama won big because he got a huge percent of the independent vote.which demographically matched up well with Obama's strong appeal among college educated voters. But a fiscal conservative libertarian with views like Ron Paul would be a tough match up for a typical Democrat. Our current representative Randy Baumgarter has no chance in this district, but now he doesn't even live in our new district.

I think these new districts could easily come back to haunt the state house Democrats. Yes, this year they messed with several elected Republicans, but these new districts will create a new generation of elected Republicans, some of which may have the broad appeal to win statewide offices.

As for city folk vs rural folk - if you look at the population changes in Routt County then that contest is over. People interested in SB recreational lifestyle have overwhelmed the locally born ag people.

As Scott Ford has observed, demographically we are pretty much like Boulder.

And if it really bothers people like YVB then move a county west where demographically it still is a lot more like it was once here.

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exduffer 2 years, 9 months ago

Maybe now we can get that I-70 spur that we so desperately need.

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the_Lizard 2 years, 9 months ago

No house members don't have particular administrative power unless they are a member of the majority party, which means that every seat is important and does count.
Also, I think the new house district could be safe for Dems; Scott Ford's comment kinda makes that opinion seem even more legitiment. Sad really because the new house district may represent Steamboat, but not South Routt. North Routt. or any other rural parts of the county It probably won't represent the ag areas of Eagle county either. I agree that the rec people have overwhelmed the locally born ag people, but perhaps rather than advising people like YVB to move,....... they should, What do ya think? :-) How will this come back to haunt the Dems, I'm not sure why you think it will create a new generation of elected Republicans.

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Scott Wedel 2 years, 9 months ago

The new map has more seats that are closer balanced. And so more races that will have to attract independents. Repubs such as Al White have done well here among independents. And that sort of candidate has a better chance of winning a statewide election than Randy Baumgarter whom can win in a pretty strongly republican district without many independents.

I am not saying that a Republican will win our new district. But this is not a big city democratic core constituency sort of district. A Republican candidate that is a social libertarian (as was Barry Goldwater) and is Ron Paul could be a really strong candidate.

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kathy foos 2 years, 9 months ago

GM just invented a car that will run on water.....Only thing is it has to use water from the Gulf Coast. Santa does not give me anything anymore,guess you will have to skip reading my comments,who ever you are?

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mavis 2 years, 9 months ago

On voting..... from an email I recieved a while back... If you are on Medicaid, Welfare or ANY type of Government support your right to vote should be REVOKED until you are NOT technically supported by the government. That way we can get back to the basics and maybe restructure so we have a system that is self sustainable and WORKS....

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Troutguy 2 years, 9 months ago

No worries. If we could just get Newt Gingrich in the White House, he could send US Marshals to arrest those activist judges that signed off on this. The funny thing is the Republican Party brought this to the courts in the first place. The original map they were disputing in the courts was more favorable towards them. Oops.

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