Happy endings for redistricting 

Rep. Pete Lee wanted to hold on to Manitou Springs. House Majority Leader Amy Stephens wanted nothing to do with it.

Both were looking at the numbers — and the proposed redrawing of their state House districts by the Colorado Reapportionment Commission.

For Lee, the first-term Democratic state representative, keeping Manitou meant keeping his district evenly divided in thirds among Republican, Democrat and independent voters. House District 18 is a "truly competitive district," he says, and one of the very few in El Paso County.

For Stephens, getting Manitou meant getting an influx of left-leaning voters who would take away her very comfortable advantage in House District 20. Instead of having 71 percent registered Republicans in her district, she'd be looking at 58 percent.

Both legislators got their wishes Monday, when the state commission voted to approve final maps for the House and the state Senate. The maps still have to go to the state Supreme Court, but as of now, the new House map will leave Manitou untouched. And Stephens still has her GOP stronghold in northern El Paso County.

Also pleased with the outcome is former county commissioner Jim Bensberg.

For months, Bensberg had been wondering what district he'd wind up in — after having announced his candidacy last December for the House District 16 spot.

Earlier maps had moved Bensberg's home address into the district of Republican Rep. Bob Gardner, and Bensberg had made it clear he was not interested in challenging a GOP incumbent. In the end, though, another shift put Bensberg back where he had been.

"I am squarely in House District 16," Bensberg tells the Indy, "and thankfully it is still called House District 16."

Republican Rep. Janak Joshi, whose fate was also in flux during the redrawing process, had planned to run for another term no matter where he landed, even if it meant a primary. But, in this map, he will remain in House District 14.

The commission members appear to have taken to heart hours of criticism that they heard when they visited El Paso County this summer. Gardner's HD 21 now has been drawn completely inside the county, shedding a small chunk of Fremont County.

There was considerably less drama on the Senate side for El Paso County with, essentially, Republican districts being redrawn around the more-divided island of central Colorado Springs, now represented by Democratic Senate Majority Leader John Morse.



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