If Summit County voters are confused about which state legislative candidates will appear on their individual ballots, it is no wonder. Thanks to the post-2010 Census redistricting effort, the county is divided among two state Senate districts and three state House districts. There are parts of the county, especially on the West Side, where strange peninsulas of one district jut into another and neighbors end up arguing more about which district they are in than whom to support.
During the redistricting debates, some cried foul, saying the new boundaries were designed to dilute certain voting blocs. But the lawmakers claimed, given the shifts in population growth, they were forced to make difficult decisions.
Be that as it may, it is now up to the voters to identify their districts, study the candidates in each particular race and make an informed choice. Maybe this will help.
Residents in the 28 precincts located in Utah Senate District 26 which includes Park City, South Summit and some parts of the Basin, can relax. Their state Senator, Kevin VanTassell, is not up for election this year.
Residents in the 17 precincts within Senate District 19, spanning from North Summit to parts of Jeremy Ranch and Pinebrook, will be voting in the race between incumbent Senator Allen Christensen and Democratic challenger Peter Clemens. Clemens, a physician from North Ogden, says he is running to bring balance to the Republican-dominated legislature and opposes some of the more controversial bills that were passed last year like the Land Transfer Act.
Christensen, a dentist, also from North Ogden, has been in the state senate since 2005. If you approve of how the legislature has been operating over the last eight years, he is your man. If not, it may be time for a change.
Residents in the tiny sliver of Summit County that falls in House District 28 -- Summit Park and lower Pinebrook -- must choose between Democratic incumbent Brian King and Republican Rick Raile.
King, a lawyer from Salt Lake City, says he is running to represent those who typically do not have a voice. Raile, a business owner in Salt Lake City, touts his experience in business and with the Republican Party. Based on their answers to The Park Record voter guide questions, we believe King provides an important and well-informed counterpoint to the dominant party's views and should be elected for another term
Unfortunately, Representative Mel Brown's constituents in House District 53 have no alternative. No one in the 25 precincts in Summit County that fall under his jurisdiction bothered to run against him. That might be acceptable if he had done such a spectacular job that no one dared to challenge his record. But he hasn't. It is a shame that no Republican challenged Brown in the primary and even more disappointing that not one Democrat in North or South Summit or the Basin even bothered to put up a fight. As a result, Brown barely campaigned, did not give The Park Record the courtesy of outlining his platform, and has been given a free ticket to another term in the Legislature where he has repeatedly voted for the most conservative initiatives.
Which brings us to the newly reconstituted House District 54 where there are two outstanding candidates running vigorous campaigns. The boundary of House District 54 now combines Park City and Wasatch County and may be one of the only logical decisions the redistricting committee made. The choice for residents in most of Park City, as well as the Basin neighborhoods of Highland Estates and Silver Creek, is between incumbent Republican Kraig Powell, a lawyer from Heber, and Democratic Summit County Council member Chris Robinson.
This is an extremely tough choice.
Powell has proven to be an independent lawmaker who has successfully advocated for much-needed reform at the Legislature. He is familiar with issues important to the community including education and tourism and has conducted an energetic and open campaign.
Robinson, too, has a record of local leadership -- he is known on the council as a skilled mediator and supports conservation and progressive land-use policies. He would also provide a much-needed counterpoint to the Republican agenda and a refreshing Summit County-centric eye on Capitol Hill.
On the negative side for each:
Powell supports the Land Transfer Act which is a misguided effort to privatize public lands. His environmental record does not measure up for many Summit County residents.
A vote for Robinson would mean that he would likely step down from the County Council where he has two more years to serve. With the county in the throes of several controversial issues, Robinson's leadership and continuity is still needed there.
This race in particular represents the political system at its best.
For a complete list of precincts within each jurisdiction, log on to: http://parkrecordonline.com/Election/NewDistricts.pdf