Feb 2, 2022 - News

Crunch time arrives for Denver's 2022 redistricting process

Illustration of the city of Denver with moving districts inside it.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver elected officials are shifting into high gear to redraw precinct and district boundaries for city council seats by the end of March.

Why it matters: The decennial remap will lay the foundation of Denver politics for the next decade based on population shifts reflected in 2020 census data.

  • Even minor boundary changes can spur leadership shakeups. For example, Denver's Montbello neighborhood was split in half 10 years ago.

Driving the news: Twenty-three maps were submitted to the city as of Tuesday, seven of which were drawn by council members while the rest came from the community.

  • In a first for Denver, the city gave residents through January to draw and submit their own maps for consideration to help identify areas with cultural, historical or economic significance and ensure a fairer drawing of voting districts.

State of play: Many residents are calling on city leaders to protect "communities of interest" β€” such as neighborhoods, business corridors and ethnic or language groups β€” in the new political boundaries.

  • One hundred fifty-seven communities of interest have been proposed, city officials said Monday during the council's redistricting committee meeting.
  • Reworking the boundaries of West Denver will be among the top challenges due to its large Latino population, whose collective voice could be diluted if certain neighborhoods are divided.

What they're saying: City leaders heard "loud and clear that people really wanted us to respect neighborhood boundaries," said councilwoman Amanda Sandoval, who's leading the redistricting process.

  • "It's very important for all of us to continue to hear from the public," she added.

How it works: Each of the city's 11 council districts will have about 65,000 people β€” the largest average district size in Denver's history β€” to equally split the population. That means some will shrink while others grow.

  • The largest council district can't be bigger than 10% of the smallest district's population, and most district lines need to follow geographic boundaries, like major highways and rivers.

Between the lines: The city of Denver's population grew by nearly 20% over the last decade and now tops 715,000.

What's next: Council will spend the next several weeks reviewing the maps and vote on the final version March 29, when a public hearing is also set, Sandoval said.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard. Subscribe here.

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