We are now within just weeks of the 2020 general election and I imagine that many of us are experiencing a somewhat overwhelming mix of feelings–from anxiety, frustration, and potentially anger, to excitement and anticipation. While we are in fact incredibly polarized as a nation and as a people, that’s not the complete story. When I talk with friends on both sides of the political divide and we get beneath the rhetoric, I find that we are not as far apart as one would think or as much as MSNBC or Fox News would have us believe. In listening closer, I find shared values around wanting a better life for our children, fairness, opportunity, and pride in our history and nation, as troubled as it has been at times.

As a student of that often-troubled history, I enjoyed the musical Hamilton. It provides me hope to reflect on the bitter divisions and rancor of the election of 1800. The fact is that even in those most divisive times, we survived and moved on to better days. Our founders, all deeply human and flawed in their own ways, had real genius in designing our government and the system of checks and balances built into it. Our government was built to encourage conversation and to disincentivize extreme positions and hostility. They realized that there were and would be complicated issues that flamed passions and that the best way through them for the good of the nation was through dialogue and compromise.

Regrettably, we have strayed further and further away from that ideal in our political arena over the past decades. So much so that not much gets done and what is done primarily benefits solely the party in power.

In 2018 Colorado voters recognized this reality and that something needed to be done to address the situation. They passed Amendments Y & Z addressing congressional and legislative redistricting.  Ironically, this was an issue that was bi-partisan and had very broad support, with each amendment getting greater than 70% approval. These amendments intended to help end gerrymandering by creating two politically balanced citizens commissions: one to redraw congressional districts and one to redraw legislative districts every ten years in conjunction with the census.

So, what does that mean to me? To you? Well, it means that fairness is a commonly shared value and these balanced commissions have emerged as a solution with broad support. And it means that you can apply to be a part of the commissions enacting these important changes.

I’ll borrow from the Colorado Neighborhood Coalition:

Ensuring a fair redistricting starts with citizens like you!  Applications for both the Congressional and Legislative Redistricting Commissions are now live.  (You can apply for both.)  Please see https://redistricting.colorado.gov/ to complete your application.

Have questions about whether you qualify and how the system works?  Visit Colorado Neighborhood  Coalition.  If you have questions or need guidance about the application process, call the citizen information hotline at (720) 295-1662 or email admin@coloradoneighborhoodcoalition.org.

Denver South has been successful over the years in large part due to a commitment to collaboration. Even with a diversity of political perspectives in our community, the vast majority of us value fairness and a level playing field.

Fairness in the redistricting process seems like a great place to extend that spirit, so please consider applying today. (Applications are due Nov. 10th.)

If you’ve been looking for an opportunity to make a difference, here’s a great one!

Legislative Districts