First members of Colorado congressional redistricting commission selected

By: - February 2, 2021 3:40 pm

Election workers process ballots at the Arapahoe County Elections Facility in Littleton, on Nov. 3, 2020. (Carl Payne for Colorado Newsline)

The first members of a new commission charged with updating the boundaries of Colorado’s congressional districts were selected Monday.

The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions announced that the first six members of the congressional commission are Democrats Paula Espinoza, of Roxborough Park in the 4th Congressional District, and Elizabeth Wilkes, of Colorado Springs in the 5th Congressional District; Republicans Danny D. Moore, of Centennial in the 6th Congressional District, and William J. Leone, of Westminster in the 7th Congressional District; and unaffiliated voters Jolie C. Brawner, of Denver in the 1st Congressional District, and Lori Smith Schell, of Durango in the 3rd Congressional District.

Every 10 years, based on updated census data, states have the opportunity to redraw the boundaries of districts for members of Congress and members of the Colorado Legislature. In 2018, Coloradans voted to implement two amendments — Y and Z — focused on reforming the way the state conducts legislative and congressional redistricting. The amendments created two independent commissions — each with 12 members — that will be tasked with redrawing the state’s political maps in a way that focuses on fairness and minimizes the potential for gerrymandering.

This table shows the number of qualified Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated applicants for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions.

The selection of six commissioners Monday was undertaken by a panel of three retired Colorado judges — Daniel Taubman, Robert Hawthorne and Alan Loeb — who randomly chose two names each from 50-person pools of Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated applicants. Those pools had been established by a previous round of random selection from larger pools of qualified applicants. Applicants from all walks of Colorado life were encouraged to apply. 

A second panel of retired Colorado judges — Karen Ashby, Dennis Graham and Gale Miller — is expected to randomly select the first six members of the legislative commission Feb. 12.

The final six members of each of the two commissions will be selected in March. For each commission, the majority leaders of the state House and Senate will supply two lists of 10 Democrats and the minority leaders of both chambers will supply two lists of 10 Republicans, and the panel of judges will choose one commissioner from each list. They will also choose two more unaffiliated members for each commission from the original applicant pool.

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