April 26, 2011
About 30 El Paso County officials and residents came together Tuesday night to voice their disgust with congressional redistricting maps proposed by Capitol Democrats.
At the heart of their discontent was that all six maps the Democrats drew remove Fort Carson and Schriever Air Force Base from the 5th Congressional District.
“They drew something like they’re on LSD from the 60’s,” Colorado Springs resident Dennis Moore nearly shouted.
“Were they at Coors or something? Because that’s ridiculous,” said Hispania News Editor Bob Armendariz.
Under the Democrat’s maps, both Carson and Schriever would move into the 3rd Congressional District to the south, which would also include Pueblo and the rest of the southern half of the state.
Much of the 5th District would also change significantly under those maps— all six would remove Chaffee, Park, and Fremont Counties from the district, and most would remove Teller County. The maps also would remove most of El Paso County from the 5th District.
All of the Republican maps would keep El Paso County whole, keeping all five of the county’s military bases in the 5th District.
Congressman Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, appeared at the meeting to vent his outrage. Lamborn, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, said that splitting the military bases would “injure the interests of the people of this entire state.”
He also held up a decision from the battle a decade ago, when redistricting was settled by the state Supreme Court. He read, “There exists a large segment of the people of El Paso County with community interest revolving around the military. For this reason, it is imperative that El Paso County not be split.”
Capitol Democrats have said their maps were drawn to create competitive districts, to avoid having “congressmen-for-life,” and to keep cities and towns intact.
County Commissioner Amy Lathen said she’s convinced the Democrats are trying to make Colorado’s seven districts lean more to the left than to the right.
“It’s about political power,” she said. “They want to take away the conservative base we have, and the only way they can do that is to break up our district.”
Rep. Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, urged everyone to attend committee hearings on each redistricting bill, in part because testimony can be evidence in court.
On Monday, Democrats announced they will introduce a redistricting bill this week. Republicans are working on a bill of their own.
Contact the writer 476-4825.