Connecting Colorado for Fair Redistricting: A Public Symposium and Call to Action
Saturday, September 19, 2020, 9 AM—4 PM
Zoom webinar, free and open to the public.Stream on Facebook Live through League of Women Voters Colorado at https://www.facebook.com/lwvcolorado/Join on Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/
Sponsored by: Colorado College, the Interdisciplinary Research Institute on the Study of (in)Equality (IRISE) at the University of Denver, and the League of Women Voters of Colorado.
Gerrymandering is the process of manipulating the boundaries of electoral districts for political gain. This is considered by many to be deeply unfair, but it has been a common practice in the US for more than 200 years. Partisan gerrymandering has become even more of an issue in recent years with the rise of powerful technologies and focused strategies. The US Constitution mandates that all states must draw new maps in 2021, and people across the country are looking for ways to ensure that the new maps are fair. Colorado passed new laws in 2018 changing the way that maps will be drawn for our US House and State Legislative districts. These laws create an independent commission to choose the maps, a process for public input, and forbid partisan gerrymandering. Though full of hope and potential, this process is uncharted territory for Coloradoans. This symposium aims to inform the general public about redistricting in Colorado, while connecting specialists from many different perspectives in meaningful dialogue about fair redistricting.
The symposium will consist of a series of public conversations with redistricting experts, government staff, activists, and concerned citizens on redistricting, why it matters for everyone, and how all Coloradoans can help. We focus throughout on how redistricting will impact Colorado’s communities of color. We invite you to join us and to contribute to the conversation live on September 19--stay for the whole day or to come only for what matters most to you. In case you cannot attend live, each segment will be recorded and available to stream after the event.
For more information, email Beth Malmskog at firstname.lastname@example.org
Schedule of talks and panels
9:00 -- 9:05 AM Welcome and Introduction
9:05 -- 9:30 AM Democracy, Representation, and the Stakes of Redistricting
Talk by Elizabeth Coggins, professor of Political Science, Colorado College
9:30 --9:55 AM A Brief History of Redistricting in Colorado
Talk by Jeremiah Barry, Colorado General Assembly Legislative Legal Services
10:00 -- 11:00 AM Colorado Today: Amendments Y and Z
Moderator: Marianne Goodland, journalist with Colorado Politics
Bernie Buescher, former State Legislator, former Secretary of State of Colorado
Toni Larson, Colorado League of Women Voters
Olivia Mendoza, All On The Line
Jessika Shipley, Colorado General Assembly Legislative Council Staff
11:05 -- 12:00 PM Colorado in Context: Mathematics, Redistricting, and Colorado
Talk by Jeanne Clelland, professor of Mathematics, University of Colorado Boulder
1:00 -- 1:55 PM Counting and Connecting: The US Census, Mapping, and Why Data Matters
Moderator: Rebecca Theobald, professor of Geography, University of Colorado Colorado Springs
Haley Colgate, Graduate Student in Applied Mathematics at University of Wisconsin Madison
Louis Pino, Colorado General Assembly Legislative Council GIS and Economist
Nicholas Schwartz, US Census Bureau
Hannah Wheelen, Princeton Gerrymandering Project
2:00 -- 2:55 PM Communities of Interest: What is a Community of Interest and Who Decides What Matters Most
Moderator: Bente Birkeland, journalist with Colorado Public Radio
Kathleen Curry, former State Legislator
Tamra DeBrady, President Colorado Black Women for Political Action
Amanda Gonzalez, Common Cause
Amanda King, Colorado General Assembly Legislative Council Staff
Peter Wattson, former National Conference of State Legislators
3:00 -- 4:00 PM Colorado Tomorrow: How We Can Shape Our State
Moderator: Jillian Jaeger, Political Scientist and City of Colorado Springs Office of Innovation Analyst
Julia Jackson, Colorado General Assembly Legislative Council Staff
Toni Larson, League of Women Voters Colorado
Denise Maes, ACLU
Hilary Rudy, Deputy Director of Elections for the Colorado Secretary of State
Schedule information and panelists are updated as confirmed, check back for additional information.
Jeremiah Barry is an Assistant Director and Team Leader in the Office of Legislative Legal Services with the Colorado General Assembly where he has worked for twenty-four years. He supervises a team of twelve who draft bills and amendments in the areas of criminal, civil, and juvenile laws; courts; public benefits; education; and higher education. Hehe served on the staff in 2001, and was the Staff Director in 2011, of the Colorado Reapportionment Commission that redrew the state senate's and state house of representatives' districts. Prior to his work for the Colorado General Assembly, he supervised litigation for the Resolution Trust Corporation and was in private practice. He graduated from the University of Denver College of Law and Claremont McKenna College.
Bernie Buescher is “Of Counsel” with the law firm of Ireland Stapleton Pryor and Pascoe, P.C. A lifetime resident of Grand Junction, Bernie practiced law in Grand Junction with Williams Turner and Holmes for 14 years, and served as President and CEO of West Star Aviation from 1986 through 1995. He served two terms in the Colorado General Assembly and for two years served as Secretary of State for Colorado. For four years Bernie was a Deputy Attorney General, managing the State Services Section of the office. He has served on approximately 40 non-profit boards.
Jeanne Clelland is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics at CU Boulder. She received her Ph.D. in 1996 from Duke University and works in differential geometry and the application of geometry to the study of partial differential equations. Specifically, her work has focused on conservation laws, Backlund transformations, intermediate equations, and sub-Finsler geometry with applications to control theory. Professor Clelland is the author of the textbook, from Frenet to Cartan: The Method of Moving Frames. She is the 2018 winner of the Burton W. Jones Distinguished Teaching Award, from the Rocky Mountain Section of the Mathematical Association of America. Professor Clelland also studies the mathematics of redistricting and is part of a team of mathematicians applying the mathematical technique of ensemble analysis to redistricting in Colorado.
Elizabeth Coggins is an associate professor of political science at Colorado College, where she joined the faculty in 2014. She earned her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Elizabeth’s research interests center on political behavior in the United States context, with a focus on ideological identification, public opinion, policy mood, and political psychology.
Haley Colgate is a graduate student in Applied Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin Madison, who is part of a research team on redistricting in Colorado and can speak to how data is important to researchers studying fair redistricting. She graduated from Colorado College with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. Her current research uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to model human decision making with applications to mental health.
Kathleen Curry is a former Colorado State Representative, serving her five county West Slope district from 2004-2010. She and her husband run a cattle and hay operation in Gunnison. After leaving elected office, Kathleen worked with a group of interested entities to develop the two ballot measures adopted in 2018 creating independent redistricting commissions. She is currently a registered professional lobbyist and works on behalf of several water, agricultural and natural resources organizations to track the activities of the legislature. She also serves as an election judge in her home county. Kathleen has a bachelors degree from the University of Massachusetts in Resource Economics and a graduate degree from Colorado State University in Water Resources Planning and Management – and has never taken a political science course much to her regret!
Tamra DeBrady was born in Frankfurt, Germany and grew up in Fontana, California. She graduated from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems and a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Shortly after moving to Denver in 2009, she finished her Masters in Business Administration. Tamra is currently an Account Executive for Cigna.
In addition to her professional career - Tamra is an activist and leader in the community. She is currently the President of Colorado Black Women for Political Action and on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Lobby of Colorado and ProgressNow Colorado Education (PNCE). Tamra pledged Alpha Kappa Psi (AKPsi) Professional Business Fraternity as an undergrad at California State University of San Bernardino. She is a co-founder of the AKPsi Denver Alumni Chapter and is currently the Regional Manager of Professional Development for the Western Great Plains Region. She is a Precinct Committee Person (PCP) for the Democratic Party. Tamra has worked on and consulted for political organizations, elected officials, and campaigns.
Tamra is passionate about educating, empowering, and advocating for the community. “The task is to transform society; only the people can do that – not heroes, not celebrities, not stars.” – Huey P. Newton
Amanda Gonzalez is the Executive Director of Colorado Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that works to create open, honest and accountable government. In her role as executive director she served as a member of the coalition that drafted and passed Amendments Y&Z, which created Colorado’s independent redistricting commissions. Prior to joining Colorado Common Cause Amanda worked for more than a decade in nonprofits serving as a grant writer, staff attorney, program manager, and executive director. Today her work focuses on improving voting rights, campaign finance, election administration, and advancing fair representation. Amanda holds a BA in Cognitive Science and Psychology from Occidental College and a law degree from the University of Denver Strum College of Law.
Julia Jackson is the public information officer and a redistricting analyst for the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commissions. She has worked for Colorado Legislative Council Staff for the last ten years, staffing the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, working with various interim committees, and coordinating the statewide initiative process and publication of the state ballot information booklet (Blue Book). Julia has previously worked for the Denver City Council, the Office of the Legal Adviser at the US Department of State, and an advocacy group for nuns. She has a BA in international relations and political science from the University of Southern California and a Master of Public Administration degree from CU-Denver. Julia grew up in Reno, Nevada, and lives in Denver with her husband and their 7-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.
Jillian Jaeger is an analyst for the City of Colorado Springs' Office of Innovation. In that role, she is responsible for crafting and implementing creative solutions to complex problems while balancing the social, economic, and environmental concerns of the city's residents. Before joining the City, she served as an assistant professor of government at St. Lawrence University, where she taught courses on race and ethnicity and state and local politics.
Amanda King has worked for the Colorado General Assembly for 19 years, including serving on the staff for the Colorado Reapportionment Commission in 2011. Amanda was a legislative editor in Colorado’s Office of Legislative Legal Services for ten years, before joining the Legislative Council Staff as a senior research analyst in 2011. She is currently the committee staff for the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, which generally considers matters concerning elections, campaign finance, military and veterans affairs, and other topics related to state government. Before moving to Colorado, Amanda worked as a legislative aide for the Nebraska Unicameral. She graduated from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, with a B.A. in political science and communication studies.
Dr. Toni Larson has been involved in the nonprofit sector for 50 years. She has served in several capacities and has worked on several topics. Chief among the organizations are the League of Women Voters, Colorado Nonprofit Association, Independent Higher Education of Colorado, Colorado Academy for Lifelong Learning, and homeowners’ associations. She has worked on environmental, higher education, international relations, the arts, and fund-raising issues, as developed through policy. She was an affiliated faculty member at the Masters/Ph.D. levels at Regis University and the University of Denver and received a Distinguished Service Award from the Denver Regional Council of Governments, an Excellence in Teaching Award from Regis University, and an Academic Excellence Award from the College of Education, University of Denver. She received a national award, Dissertation of the Year, from the Association for the Study of Higher Education. In 2020 she received the Public Service Lifetime Achievement Award from the Colorado Nonprofit Association. Education: Colorado College, BA, English and Zoology; Regis University, Master’s Nonprofit Management; University of Denver, Ph.D. Higher Education Policy.
Rebecca Theobald currently holds an appointment as Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs where she directs GeoCivics, an effort to engage students and community members in asking geographic questions to address apportionment and redistricting, with an emphasis on the role geospatial technology plays in drawing electoral districts. From 2008 through 2018, she served as coordinator of the Colorado Geographic Alliance, part of National Geographic's Network of Alliances for Geographic Education, providing professional development for teachers across the state. She has served as editor of the National Council for Geographic Education’s journal, “The Geography Teacher”, since 2015. Theobald earned doctoral and masters’ degrees in geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Middlebury College.
Peter S. Wattson served as Senate Counsel to the Minnesota Senate from 1971 to 2011 and as General Counsel to Governor Mark Dayton from January to June 2011. He assisted with drawing, attacking, and defending redistricting plans throughout that time. He represented the Senate and its members in lawsuits concerning redistricting, the appropriations process, and legislative immunity. He has lectured on redistricting, appropriations, legislative procedure and immunity, elections, campaign finance, and gifts to public officials.
Mr. Wattson is beginning his sixth decade of redistricting. He served as Staff Chair of NCSL’s Reapportionment Task Force in 1989, its Redistricting Task Force in 1999, and its Committee on Redistricting and Elections in 2009. Since retiring in 2011, he has participated in redistricting lawsuits in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Florida. During the 2019-2020 regular session, he failed to persuade the Minnesota Legislature to put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment to create an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission to draw congressional and legislative plans.