Steamboat Springs looks to redraw City Council voting precincts

The proposed district boundaries would move hundreds of residents into different election precincts in Steamboat Springs.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy

Hundreds of Steamboat residents may soon change election precincts, meaning they could find themselves represented by a different City Council member.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, Steamboat Springs City Council approved moving forward with a staff-recommended map with redrawn City Council voting districts meant to bring the number of registered voters in each precinct closer into alignment.

“Each district shall be contiguous and shall include as nearly as possible the same number of qualified electors,” or registered voters, reads the Steamboat Springs charter.

The city evaluates the three district’s boundaries every five years and if there’s a 10% discrepancy between the lowest and highest numbers of registered voters in their respective districts, the city’s policy is to redraw the boundaries.

District 1, which comprises the downtown area to the west edge of city limits, had its boundaries extended from Fifth Street to Third Street, meaning the district will encompass all of “Original Steamboat Springs,” from the west side to the end of the downtown streets.

City Council members Robin Crossan and Gail Garey represent District 1.

The yellow line shows the current borders of the first and second voting districts in Steamboat Springs, while the green line shows what the city’s staff is proposing.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy image

While District 2 loses that downtown territory, it absorbs some District 3 turf on the other end. Its southern border will move from Burgess Creek Road to absorb all of Ski Time Square and Storm Meadows Drive. 

Council Members Michael Buccino and Joella West represent District 2. 

The third district, comprised of the neighborhood around Walton Creek Road known as “Condo Land”, had the most registered voters and would concede Ski Time Square and Storm Meadows Drive without gaining anything elsewhere. 

Council Members Heather Sloop and Dakotah McGinlay represent District 3. 

The yellow line shows the current borders of the second and third voting districts in Steamboat Springs, while the green line shows what the city’s staff is proposing.
City of Steamboat Springs/Courtesy image

The city provided data on each of the three districts using 2020 census data and voter registration records from a few months ago. According to that data, District 1 has the highest population but the fewest registered voters, with 4,642 people but only 3,510 of whom are registered voters. 

District 3, however, has 4,299 people and 4,162 registered voters. 

The difference between the first and third dirtricts is 18.6% — well above the 10% threshold the city uses for guidance. 

In the proposed redrawn map, District 2 would have the most registered voters with 3,973, while District 1 would still be on the bottom but with 3,809 registered voters, reflecting a disparity of only 4.3%. 

The distribution of eligible voters would be brought to within a 4.6% between the districts with the highest and lowest numbers after the city redraws the map.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the council members had the opportunity to keep the boundaries as they are, or recommend a different configuration with the intent of equalizing the distribution of qualified electors.

Unanimously, City Council advised staff to move forward with the map presented.

Deputy City Manager Tom Leeson said the city plans to elicit feedback from the community before putting the map into an ordinance to be voted upon by City Council.

“We would probably send a letter or reach out to all of those property owners that would be affected by the change,” Leeson said. “Give them an opportunity to comment and then bring an ordinance back to you after that.”

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