SAN LUIS VALLEY — The names have been announced of the final six individuals selected to be on the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions. Jason Kelly, a Republican and the attorney for the County of Alamosa, has been selected to represent Congressional District 3.
Kelly has been the Alamosa County Attorney since March of 2008. After obtaining his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs in 1998, he was awarded his juris doctorate from the William H. Bowen School of Law in Little Rock, Arkansas in 2004. In 2006, Kelly opened a private practice in Colorado ultimately taking a full-time position with Alamosa County in 2011.
Kelly is a member of the Colorado Bar Association and the San Luis Valley Bar Association where he has served as Secretary/Treasurer, Vice-President and President.
For more than a decade, he has also been an active board member of the SLV Pro Bono Project and was recently named to the Colorado Diverse Attorney Community Circle (CODACC). He serves on the Unmanned Aircraft Operation Advisory Board for Trinidad State Junior College and is an adjunct professor at Adams State University.
Lori Schell, an Unaffiliated voter from Durango, was selected to be the other representative from Congressional District 3.
Kelly, who was selected from thousands of applicants, will serve as one of twelve commissioners on the Independent Colorado Redistricting Commission, which was created with the passage of Amendment Y by Colorado voters in the 2018 election. The commission is charged with drawing Colorado’s congressional districts in 2021.
There are 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives with the number of seats per state apportioned by a state’s population and reapportioned, if necessary, by the U.S. Census that is conducted every ten years.
Colorado currently has seven seats in the U.S. House, one for each of the seven Congressional Districts. Prior to the passage of Amendment Y, the state legislature was responsible for drawing the boundaries that created those districts, a process that was often ruled – if not stymied – by partisan differences. Failure by the legislature to complete a new map led to legal challenges, which ultimately resulted in state courts drawing the map.
This has been the case the last four times congressional restricting took place. Amendment Y transferred the authority to draw congressional district maps from the state legislature to the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission.
The 12 person commission -- comprised of four Republicans, four Democrats and four Unaffiliates – must abide by specific criteria in drawing the Congressional map for Colorado. The districts must have equal population, and justification is required for any variance, no matter how small, as outlined by the U.S. Constitution. The districts must be composed of contiguous geographic areas and comply with the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965. They must preserve whole communities of interest and whole political subdivisions, such as counties, cities and towns and be as compact as reasonably possible. And they must maximize the number of politically competitive districts.
In drawing Congressional districts, the commission is also prohibited from protecting incumbents or declared candidates for Congress or any political party. They are also prohibited from “denying or abridging the right of any citizen to vote on account of race or membership in a language minority group.” That also includes drawing districts that dilute the impact of that racial or language minority group’s electoral influence.
In short, the intention of the commission is to draw districts using criteria that is as immune to partisan considerations as possible.
The process is also designed to be as transparent as possible with meetings open to the public and multiple opportunities for the public to provide input. Anyone interested in more information can search online for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions where the process, including procedures for drawing and voting on maps, is explained in more detail.