The Utah Legislature’s Redistricting Committee is recommending a map that could, if approved by the legislature during a special session on October 3, leave Salt Lake City intact as a congressional district for the first time in twenty years. That same map divides Salt Lake County, once again weakening the state’s democratic base.
Instead of leaving the largest urban area in the state whole, the map divides Salt Lake County into three “pizza slices,” but leaves the city itself in one piece and combines it with all of southern Utah, western Davis County, and all of Tooele County.
The map was drawn by Representative and House chair of the committee Ken Sumsion-R, American Fork, and modified by House Speaker Rebecca Lockhart-R, Provo. It also gives Utah County two districts, practically guaranteeing two Republican seats from the most conservative county in the nation. Lockhart felt it was important to keep Utah County in one district, but said, “I feel the people of Utah County would be best served by having two members in Congress.”
Democrats maintain this is designed to further dilute the state’s only democratic foothold and strengthen its republican base, and is an attempt to ensure all of Utah’s four seats in Congress will be held by Republicans. State Democratic Party chair Jim Dabakis said the map is gerrymandering, and will discourage Democrats from voting.
Lockhart referred to the plan as a “hybrid,” containing both the doughnut hole (Salt Lake City) and the pizza slice (carved up the county) approach. She believes the approach gives each congressional representative balance by representing urban and rural interests.
Many rural voters have complained that putting their interests in with urban interests means their needs are not met, and asked the committee to allow them a district that focused on the priorities of rural Utahns.
You can see the recommended maps at the legislature’s redistricting website by clicking here. The Salt Lake City whole map is under the title of “Congress: Sumsion 06 Modified A, and you can access it here.
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Source: Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News, Utah Legislature