Our community of interest should be kept whole
Voces Unidas Executive Director Alex Sánchez today gave testimony at Carbondale's redistricting meeting. To learn more about the redistricting process, visit www.vocesunidas.org/advocacy.
Below are his complete remarks:
Good afternoon. My name is Alex Sánchez. I grew up in Eagle County and now live in Garfield County.
I am here today representing Voces Unidas de las Montañas, the first Latino-created 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, based in Garfield County and doing work in the Roaring Fork, the Eagle River and the Colorado River valleys. I serve as the executive director.
The Latino communities in the tri-county region are a community of interest. We are connected by the I-70 and Hwy 82 corridors, which are subject to federal and state legislative actions. We are connected by race, ethnicity and language. And we are connected because we live in close proximity.
In Eagle County, which includes this part of the mountains (El Jebel and Basalt) and on the other side (Edwards, Avon and Vail), the Latino community represents 30% of the population. In Garfield County, from Parachute to Glenwood and ending just past Carbondale, Latinos also represent 30% of the population. In Pitkin County, the smallest county, 10% of the population is Latino. As we think about the next 10 years, Latinos will play an important role in the projected growth in the region. And we have evidence of that now. For example, our school districts -- Eagle County Schools, Roaring Fork School District, Garfield School District 2, and Garfield School District 16 are now minority majority school systems.
First, we believe that the proposed legislative and congressional maps fail to keep our community of interest in one single district for purposes of ensuring fair and effective representation.
For example, the Latino communities in the region, from Parachute to Vail and Parachute to Aspen, all living in close proximity, on the I-70/Hwy 82 corridors, are being unfairly broken up into four separate house districts and two separate senate districts, reducing our community’s voice and creating unfair representation for a community of interest. At the congressional level, the proposed CD3 map drastically reduces the Latino population percentage from 25% to 15%, because the San Luis Valley and Pueblo communities have been removed for CD3.
The proposed legislative and congressional maps fail the state’s criteria to be contiguous and preserve whole communities of interest.
Second, we believe that the proposed maps, at both the legislative and congressional levels, have prematurely and inappropriately focused on competitiveness while not yet meeting the constitutional requirements, for example, of ensuring that communities of interest are considered first before considering competitiveness.
As I close, I want to thank you for your service, and request that you keep our community of interest whole and that you first meet the community of interest requirement before considering competitiveness. We also request more public hearings, especially with communities of interest once the final census data is received.