Proponents of Restoring Colorado persuaded to continue petition drive after suspending it Monday
July 12, 2014
The petition drive for a ballot initiative that would realign Colorado House of Representatives districts to coincide with county boundaries and give each of the 64 counties one representative is back on after it was suspended by organizers Monday.
Phillips County Administrator Randy Schafer told The Tribune on Friday morning that due to feedback from volunteer circulators statewide who see strong bipartisan interest in ballot initiative 111, proponents of Restoring Colorado are reinstating a push for 100,000 signatures by Aug. 1.
"We got lots of pressure. We got lots of calls from people, especially on the West Slope and the southeast part of the state," Schafer said. "They did not want to quit. They still feel like they can make it. After listening to a number of people we decided, 'Well, why are we standing in their way? Let's go for it.' We've got a really active group that think they've got enough people to get it done."
Schafer and Phillips County Commissioner Joe Kinnie, proponents of Restoring Colorado, announced on Monday the suspension of the petition drive to make the November ballot this year. Schafer said in a phone interview with The Tribune on Monday that plans were to build a wider base for support for the issue to circulate petitions for the 2016 ballot.
That all changed by the end of the week when the signature drive got a second life.
Schafer said the signatures have to be back to Restoring Colorado by Aug. 1, and then to the secretary of state by Aug. 4. He said the goal is still 100,000 signatures, even though 86,105 is the number needed to make the Nov. 4 ballot. On Monday, Schafer thought they had around 35,000 signatures.
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"The people on the West Slope have shown us a way where they think they can get it done. We'll see if that proves true," he said. "Even if we still fail, in the process we've educated a whole bunch of new people to the cause."
The effort behind the legislation started with the 51st state initiative in 2013 that was a reaction against legislation decided without enough rural input. A resolution by state Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, to try to get the state legislature to put the Phillips County proposal on the ballot failed in the latest session.
If the petition drive fails to get the necessary signatures, Schafer said Restoring Colorado will work toward putting it on the 2016 ballot.
"Nothing changes on our plan for that," Schafer said.
Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, who was the face of the 51st state initiative, is in favor of putting the Phillips County proposal to the vote of the people.
Conway couldn't be reached for comment Friday, but he said Monday that the momentum hasn't died down on initiatives such as the 51st state or the one by Phillips County.
"When you have something like this, an educational effort needs to be out there," Conway said. "This is still a growing movement around the rest of the state."