Jan 18, 2023 - News

Denver's new municipal boundaries may change city politics

Illustration of the city of Denver with moving districts inside it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Denver's fast-approaching municipal election will reveal the real impact of the redrawn council district boundaries β€” and the stakes are high.

Why it matters: April's municipal election will be the first to use new Denver City Council district boundaries adopted last year by local lawmakers.

  • With multiple council members not running for re-election or term-limited, and a public financing tool intended to make running for office more accessible, more people have tossed their hats in Denver City Council races.
  • It means there will be plenty of new faces β€” and new policy ideas β€” on the 13-member council.

Catch up quick: The boundaries, reflective of population shifts in the 2020 census, dictate what sections of the city the 11 council members represent (there are two at-large seats, too).

Several neighborhoods switched districts, including East Colfax, Country Club, Cherry Creek, Rosedale, Valverde and Union Station, while others saw smaller tweaks.

  • Emily Lapel, a former legislative analyst with the city who helped with redistricting, noted residents in neighborhoods like Union Station and East Colfax lobbied to be moved to other districts.

Flashback: East Colfax residents wanted to be looped into a district with similar, working-class and ethnically diverse neighborhoods like Montbello and Northeast Park Hill, who often have different priorities

Now, Lapel is watching whether the shared boundaries between the three neighborhoods will make for a strong enough voice compared with bigger, wealthier neighborhoods, like Central Park.

Yes, but: It's too early to say whether the new boundaries will shift political power in the city, Lapel said.

By the numbers: Each of the city's 11 council districts is split to represent about 65,000 people.

What they're saying: The new boundaries are pushing City Council candidates, especially first-timers, to be vigilant about where their districts start and stop.

  • District 10 candidate Shannon Hoffman, who lives in Capitol Hill, tells Axios she had supporters who weren't eligible to sign her petition because they lived in a part of the neighborhood that sits outside the district's new boundaries.
  • Cap Hill is among several neighborhoods broken into multiple districts.

What we're hearing: Some households will need to familiarize themselves with their new district neighbors, University of Colorado Colorado Springs assistant research professor Rebecca Theobald tells us.

  • This could help voters determine priorities they want their council members to focus on.

Be smart: A website with current council districts is expected to be updated to display the new boundaries by next week, Denver Elections spokesperson Lucille Wenegieme said.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Denver stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Denver.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more