If you’re confused about county commissioner districts in Elbert County, about which commissioner represents whom, about why one of the commissioners represents a district he doesn’t live in, and about why the county commissioner who is running unopposed in the upcoming election managed to magically reside in the open commissioner district without actually physically relocating……you’re not alone! Let’s dig a little deeper and provide some easy-to-prove documentation about commissioner districts in EC.
Elbert County has three commissioner districts and, per law, a county commissioner has to live in the district which he/she is elected to represent. All commissioners are elected at-large, which means all citizens vote on all commissioners. But the intent of the living-in-your-district law is to ensure that all citizens have a commissioner who is their go-to elected official, who will listen to their concerns, and who will advocate specifically for the citizens residing in his/her commissioner district.
Per state statute, all counties in Colorado redraw county commissioner districts every 10 years, after the official census has been completed. The purpose of redrawing the districts is to balance the population, as closely as possible, in each of the commissioner districts.
So, after the 2020 census, it was time to redraw commissioner districts. The county clerk is in charge of the method which will be used to review and redraw these districts. As a member of the 2010 committee that was utilized to establish commissioner districts, I can speak to the method used in Elbert County: the county clerk sets up a bi-partisan committee to look at maps, neighborhoods, population centers, etc., to draw boundary lines for the commissioner districts with the goal of equalizing populations as closely as possible in each district.
In 2021, the Elbert County Clerk, Dallas Schroeder, asked for names of citizens from both major political parties to form this bi-partisan committee. The Democratic Party sent two very well qualified, long-term EC residents to assist with this process. Republicans also sent representatives. Together, this committee studied maps presented by the county clerk and arrived at proposals for the county commissioners to study as they finalized the boundaries for the new county commissioner districts.
Interestingly, the two maps presented to the county commissioners were not any of the maps that had been agreed upon by the committee tasked with redrawing the districts. In fact, the representatives for the EC Democrats stated that neither of them had ever seen the map that was eventually approved by the county commissioners, and the county clerk refused to send the final maps to the Democrats’ representatives when asked.
And even more interesting, if you can call it that instead of the fraud that it actually was, the county clerk RENUMBERED the districts….again without informing the bi-partisan redistricting committee that this was going to happen. In doing so, the current county clerk (who is running unopposed for county commissioner) coincidentally now lives in the one county commissioner district that is open for election in 2022….a district he did not live in prior to the 2021 redistricting. So he can play musical chairs and move from the county clerk chair into a county commissioner chair. Had the districts remained numbered as they have been for at least the last 30 years that I have lived here, the county clerk would not be eligible to run for the open county commissioner seat.
You can go to the video of the county commissioner meeting where the county clerk presented the newly redistricted map to the county commissioners, and he clearly states that the commissioner districts are the “same as they always have been.” While I believe that the county commissioners were complicit in this whole renumbering scheme because they prefer to have the current county clerk as their fellow commissioner, it continues the never-ending corruption that has plagued Elbert County for so long.
As an example of this malfeasance, we now have a commissioner who represents District 1 living in District 2 for the remaining two years of his term. Had the numbering of the districts not been “flipped” to solely benefit the current county clerk, District 1’s commissioner would still live in District 1. The county clerk would not have been eligible to run for county commissioner in District 2 because he didn’t reside in District 2. So rather than physically move to a different location, the county clerk “moved” the numbers on the county commissioner districts to guarantee himself a job at the taxpayers’ expense. Does it make sense that, after the general election, EC will have two of the three commissioners living in District 2, and zero commissioners living in District 1? As a resident of District 1, this is an unacceptable outcome of gerrymandering the commissioner districts.
In Colorado, the redistricting was not actually required to be completed (because of the delayed 2020 census) until 2023. However, waiting until 2023 to redistrict would have prevented the current county clerk from running for county commissioner in 2022…..so he rushed the process to benefit himself. This is further evidence of violating public trust and misusing the power of the county clerk’s office.
Just keep in mind that even if someone runs unopposed for a county office, if you can’t in good conscience support that person, leave the ballot blank as a potential recall is based on a set percentage of the votes cast for that person in the general election….less votes cast equals a smaller number of signatures needed for a successful recall. Just a thought