Redistricting and Your Right to Representation
Redistricting is the process of redrawing electoral boundaries to balance population growth and protect one person’s power, one vote. The remapping of local, state, and federal political districts occurs once every ten years and is guided by the decennial United States Census; designed to preserve voting equity and equality in our ever-expanding electorate.
2020 Census population statistics show that over the last decade, Denver’s population has both grown and diversified with more than 115,364 new residents, nearly 85% of whom represent marginalized populations. Census data is foundational in the re-precinct process done by the Denver Clerk and those precincts guide how Denver City Council is charged to redo City Council district boundaries. This data is also augmented by criteria adopted by a Council Resolution
that requires we must draw eleven, compact, and contiguous districts inclusive of full and complete state house precincts that divide our 715,522 residents as evenly as possible. Districts 8, 9, and 11 all grew significantly due to the amount of housing development over the past 10 years in those areas. To balance this growth and prepare for the next ten years, we must redistrict to ensure fair and equitable representation.
Denver’s Redistricting Work Group and Committee of the Whole have worked to create a transparent process, safeguard communities of interest as much as possible while balancing all other criteria and defend everyone’s right to elect a Denver City Council representative that reflects the diversity of people who live in respective districts. This is extremely important as voting rights become a target of debate and an effort to limit citizens’ ability to cast their vote in coming elections increases.
Several maps by city council were submitted for consideration and are available to view on our redistricting website
. These maps were discussed at five public meetings held in February. This input has been shared at the weekly Redistricting meetings and will continue to be discussed until a final map is submitted for adoption on March 29th
Your involvement and input have been critical to developing new districts through an open and transparent process. Like a Rubik’s Cube, which requires consideration of all sides, Council will review and consider community feedback on the proposed maps to arrive at a map that reflects a variety of criteria. The new districts will be in place for Denver’s 2023 April general and May run-off elections. They will remain in place for subsequent municipal election cycles until the 2030 Census data is available.
I will focus on the criteria in the resolution adopted by City Council with an emphasis on one person; one vote and not splitting neighborhoods or communities of interest. Each of the proposals under consideration has less than a 10% difference between the smallest and largest districts. Each maintains at least four minority-majority districts although this is not an indicator of who will be elected. Three current Latina or African American Councilors were elected from majority-white districts and one Anglo member was elected from a minority-majority district.
I will look to the future as I study the maps. I do not think the boundary-setting process for new districts should be about the people currently serving in the seats. Term limits will continue to cycle people out of these seats. New district boundaries provide clarity for future candidates, not incumbent protection. In fact, in 2023, four current city council members will leave. Denver will elect new people for two district positions, two at-large positions, and a new mayor. You will undoubtedly begin hearing from those candidates soon.
Deborah "Debbie" Ortega
City of Denver Councilwoman At-Large
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