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For The Politically Disenfranchised: A New State Or A Change At The Legislature?

Kent Landerholm
Creative Commons

Weld County Commissioners will now float two ideas at upcoming community meetings aimed at addressing what they say is a growing feeling of rural disenfranchisement from the political process.

In addition to polling Weld citizens on the idea of forming a 51st state, Weld Commissioner Sean Conway says a group of 10 counties are exploring whether to propose changing the make-up of the Colorado House or Senate so that each county would have at least one representative.

“The model comes off how we’re governed in this country,” said Conway. “We have a House that’s represented by population. And we have a U.S. Senate which is predicated on land mass, two senators from each state. In this case we’d have one senator from each county in Colorado.”

The idea was first proposed at a Monday meeting on the topic with Phillips County Commissioners and nine other Northeastern Colorado counties. Right now the Colorado House has 65 members, each representing a district of about 75,000 people while the Colorado Senate has 35 members, who represent a district of about 123,000. Under the proposal, one of the bodies would end up with at least 64 members, one for each of the counties in Colorado.

Much like the independent statehood idea, accomplishing the proposal will not be easy. It would require a change to the Colorado Constitution, which could be accomplished by the Colorado State Legislature or the voting public.

Credit Google Maps / maps.google.com
Graphic illustration of the ten counties discussing forming a new state.

Despite comments proclaiming that commissioners are picking a partisan fight, Commissioner Sean Conway says the upcoming meetings—which haven’t yet been scheduled—aren’t about pitting Democrats against Republicans.

“There are many Democratic County Commissioners that feel the same [that] I as a Republican County Commissioner [feel]. This is an issue that’s been talked about for many months of feeling disenfranchisement and being ignored.”

Weld County Commissioners expect to set dates for the meetings within the next week.

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