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Yolanda Avila

Southeast, this is a call for you to engage in the redistricting effort. 

This is crucial for each and every one of us to ensure that voters choose their elected officials instead of the elected officials choosing their voters. Here’s the skinny and how you can get involved in ensuring an equitable redistricting process. 

As a result of the 2020 Census, redistricting of state and senate local seats as well as U.S. Congressional districts has begun through various commissions. I would like to call your attention to the state House of Representatives district map. Currently, for the most part, the Southeast is in House District 17. In this preliminary map, this district has been split into districts 44 and 45. House District 17, therefore, has been split in half in this map along Fountain Boulevard. The area north of Fountain Boulevard is combined with communities as far north as Austin Bluffs Parkway, and the area south of Fountain Boulevard is combined with the Broadmoor and the heart of downtown. You can then see how our voices will be diluted across two districts and drowned out by communities with starkly contrasting priorities.

These maps are nowhere near final, and there are multiple ways you can provide your input and concerns to create change. First, Colorado residents may submit a public comment at any time in the process via the redistricting website: redistricting.colorado.gov/public_comments/new Second, the commissions will be conducting public hearings throughout the state including a visit to Colorado Springs on August 28. (The location and time have not been set but the latest information may be found at redistricting.colorado.gov.) You may sign up to testify remotely or in person at these hearings. By signing up to testify, you will be granted three minutes to speak to the commission regarding your thoughts and concerns with the preliminary districts. 

Every Monday at 6 p.m., All On The Line, a nonpartisan organization working to ensure fairly drawn district lines, will be hosting a virtual workshop to prepare citizens who wish to testify at the redistricting commission public hearings. It is crucial that your voice is heard and that our districts truly represent our community. 

In council news, the council attended a retreat on June 24 to listen to and come to understand each members’ different perspectives. The council chambers are still under renovations and we will not be using those chambers until our September council meetings at the earliest. Presently, we are meeting at the Colorado Springs Utilities building at 121 S Tejon St on the fifth floor. Council meetings are now open to the public. The COVID-19 era brought on many technical challenges, and it provided another way to have meetings. Therefore, we will continue to meet in a hybrid format allowing citizens to comment virtually and in person. 

Let’s continue to enjoy the waning days of summer before the kiddos go back to school. Kids on Bikes is hosting a PopCycle ride at the Southeast YMCA on August 15 and will provide bikes and helmets on request. As for Puma and I, we continue to enjoy our walks around Prospect Lake and are very excited about the newly renovated Beach House.

Yolanda Avila is a city councilor serving Southeast Colorado Springs.